E&J Gallo, which purchased Columbia winery in June 2012, is rolling out new packaging in stages: on premise in the Pacific Northwest during the first quarter of 2014 with a national launch during the second half of 2014.
Gallo has made a number of other changes at Columbia, its first winery in Washington. The company hired winemaker Sean Hails who had been working at their Modesto facility. Canadian by birth, Hails also has worked in British Columbia.
A previous owner moved the production facility to Sunnyside, in the Yakima Valley. The barrel room remains in Woodinville, as they truck the barrels back to the main public facility. Hails and his family are living nearby Sunnyside in West Richland.
Kristina Kelly, a Gallo spokeswoman, confirmed: “We will launch our value-priced wines in the Northwest in January; and we will take them national in September 2014.” These wines are a 2012 Chardonnay, Merlot, and a Cabernet, in addition to a non-vintage blend. These wines should retail around $14.
The 2012 wines were a smaller vintage, down to about 80,000 cases.
While the winery lost the Red Willow contract (as a result of a previous owner), home to the first syrah in the state, Hails is trying to get that fruit back into production. Other wines in production are: a Syrah, 2 Cabernet Sauvignons (including a Red Mountain version), Viognier, Grenache rosé, Riesling, an off-dry Muscat and Wahluke Slope blends.