When Allen Shoup came to Washington four decades ago, the state’s wineries were few in number and small in scale.
By the time of Shoup’s death on Nov. 7 at age 79, Washington wines were well-regarded worldwide and the state had become second only to California as the nation’s largest wine producer. Much credit for both the quantity and quality of Washington wines can be laid at Shoup’s doorstep.
Shoup took a gamble in 1980 when he left the well established E & J Gallo winery in Modesto, California, and joined a fledgling enterprise called Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville as head of marketing. He saw something that others did not. “He brought a vision of what Washington wine could be and guided us out of the naive, provincial mindset of the time,” Bob Betz, founder of Betz Family Winery in Walla Walla and a former colleague of Shoup’s at Chateau Ste. Michelle, said in an email to The Seattle Times.
Shoup became president and CEO of Stimson Lane Vineyards and Estates, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s parent company, in 1983. He guided the company to a preeminence that cannot be overstated: Washington has nearly 1,000 wineries, but Stimson Lane accounts for more than half of the state’s production.
Shoup retired in 2000, but two years later opened a winery of his own — the award-winning Long Shadows Vintners.
Shoup understood that no winery thrives on its own. Rick Small, founder and co-owner of Woodward Canyon Winery in Walla Walla, told The Times of a freeze that threatened his supply of a particular grape. Shoup made sure Woodward Canyon got the grapes it needed.
“Allen always saw the bigger picture,” Small said. “He knew that our cabernet sauvignon in the market was just as important as his. We needed each other to succeed!”
Big-picture thinking led Shoup to pursue formal American Viticulatural Area designation for the Columbia Valley in 1984, and to press for the formation of the Washington Wine Commission in 1987.
His life wasn’t all wine, though. He understood that his industry was embedded in Washington’s larger economy and culture. Shoup helped lead the Auction of Washington’s Wines in 1987, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for Seattle Children’s Hospital. His patronage of the arts ranged from collaborating with glass artist Dale Chihuly on an exhibition at Long Shadows to serving on the board of the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Anyone in Washington with a broad taste for the finer things in life owes Allen Shoup a heartfelt toast of appreciation.