Allen Shoup, whose leadership, background in marketing and eye for winemaking talent turned what is now Ste. Michelle Wine Estates into a national power while helping the Washington wine industry onto the global stage, died Monday of natural causes at his home in Seattle. He was 79.

His death was announced by Long Shadows Vintners, the company he created in the Walla Walla Valley with a constellation of international winemaking stars attracted by the vision and success that seemed inherent in Shoup.

“He was to Washington wines what his friend and mentor, Robert Mondavi, was to Napa Valley,” Napa Valley vintner Agustin Huneeus Sr., said in a statement released by Long Shadows.

Among Shoup’s legacies is the Auction of Washington Wines, which, since its creation in 1988, has raised more than $59 million for Seattle Children’s hospital and wine-related research at Washington State University. Shoup also was the driving force behind the petition to establish the Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area in 1984, the Washington State Wine Commission and the Washington Wine Institute, a lobbying organization.

“Allen challenged the parochial naiveté that our industry had when he arrived in 1980,” said Bob Betz, a master of wine and acclaimed winemaker whose career as an executive for Ste. Michelle, known as Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates until 2004, overlapped that of Shoup. “We were so Washington-focused from a production and marketing standpoint that we didn’t really consider what was going on in the rest of the wine world to the extent we needed to.”

Shoup grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, and received a business degree from the University of Michigan. He added a master’s degree in psychology from Eastern Michigan University while working for Chrysler, then was drafted into the Army. His two years of service, which ended in 1969, were spent primarily working in the Pentagon.


His marketing savvy led him to product development at Amway and then to California cosmetic company Max Factor. E. & J. Gallo Winery soon learned of Shoup’s skills and hired him in 1975. After three years with Gallo, he nearly took a job with Stimson Lane. Instead, he spent a short time as communications director for Boise Cascade in Idaho.

In 1980, there were fewer than 20 wineries in Washington and much of Stimson Lane’s inventory included wines from fruit other than the classic vinifera grapes that had transformed California into a rising power. Within three years of his arrival, Shoup was named president and CEO of what has grown into the eighth-largest wine company in the United States.

Investments by U.S. Tobacco, which owned Stimson Lane, included vineyards, state-of-the-art wineries, elevated consumer experiences and research that was shared with the rest of the Washington wine industry.

“I had a vision for what could happen, but the fact of the matter, the credit doesn’t go to me, it goes to the parent company that gave me the resources to do what I did,” Shoup told in a recent interview.

That includes the construction of massive production facilities in Eastern Washington, namely Columbia Crest Winery, that were overseen by a seemingly endless string of winemaking talent. In 1994, Stimson Lane created its merlot-focused Northstar brand and later built a winery for it in Walla Walla.

Along the way, Shoup admired the success of Opus One in the Napa Valley — Mondavi’s innovative collaboration with France’s famous Rothschild family. That concept led to Stimson Lane’s creation of Col Solare, a brand launched in 1995 with Italy’s Antinori family. The Eroica riesling partnership with German icon Ernst Loosen followed in 1999.

The next year, after two decades of corporate leadership and reporting to stockholders, Shoup was ready for a new challenge. In 2002, he launched Long Shadows. By 2007, Food & Wine Magazine named Long Shadows its Winery of the Year.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen, son Ryan Shoup, stepson Dane Narbaitz, and three grandchildren. Both sons hold leadership positions at Long Shadows, which will be opening a new tasting room in Woodinville in early 2023.