Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the third largest producer of premium wine in the U.S. and the Northwest’s oldest and most acclaimed wine company, has named Rob Bigelow MS the senior director of wine education and on premise development.
In this newly-created role, Bigelow will develop comprehensive programs to educate staff, trade and consumers about the distinctive wine estates featured in Ste. Michelle’s domestic and imported wine portfolio. In addition, he will bring strategic focus to programming that is directed to the on-premise channel.
“I returned to Seattle because of the opportunity to join Ste. Michelle,” Bigelow said. “Ste. Michelle is unparalleled in its commitments to building a portfolio of quality wines estates and leading the growth and development of the Washington wine industry.
“It’s a dynamic wine company that is always looking forward to the next initiative or partnership that will bring excitement to the marketplace,” Bigelow said. “I look forward to leveraging my experience to bring greater focus to the Ste. Michelle portfolio and the outstanding wines produced in Washington state.”
Frank Genovese, Ste. Michelle’s executive vice president for sales, said that Bigelow’s accomplishments as an educator and in the wholesale and on-premise channels lend extraordinary credibility to his advocacy for the Ste. Michelle portfolio.
“Rob will elevate Ste. Michelle’s ability to convey the attributes of our portfolio to strategic audiences,” Genovese said. “He is an expert about the world’s great wine producing regions and a recognized leader within the Court of Master Sommeliers. His critical understanding of all aspects of the wine business will be a great asset to our company.”
Bigelow holds the coveted title of Master Sommelier, which he was awarded in 2002 as the 50th American recipient and the seventh American to pass all three parts of the rigorous exam on the first attempt. He is a member of the board of directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers and served as its education chair in 2011.
He most recently was the director of food and beverage for ARIA Resort & Casino. He opened Aria as the director of wine and maintained those duties after being promoted to food and beverage director. As wine director, he was responsible for the resort’s entire wine program, overseeing 16 sommeliers as well as wine sales and service for all restaurants, bars, catering facilities, buffets, banquets and room-service.
Prior to that, Bigelow held wine education and fine wine sales director positions with a large Nevada distributor and was responsible for overseeing the wine sales and distribution efforts for the state. He also was the wine director for Bellagio Resort and Casino here he was responsible for the hotel’s entire wine program, one of the largest and most successful in the world, overseeing 18 sommeliers as well as wine sales and service in 32 restaurants, bars, lounges, catering, banquets and room-service.
During his time at Bellagio, he also served as adjunct professor in the Food & Beverage program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Bigelow was recognized as the Sante’ Magazine Wine Professional of the Year in 2007.
Earlier in his career, Bigelow was the wine director for Seattle’s prestigious Canlis Restaurant (1994-2001). Under his leadership, the wine program received the coveted Wine Spectator Grand Award in 1997 and was voted Seattle’s Best Wine List by Gourmet, Food & Wine and Seattle magazines.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, located outside of Seattle, Washington, has a long and distinguished history that dates back to 1934. Wines under the Ste. Michelle label were first introduced in 1967, and since that time the company has expanded its vineyard holdings to more than 3,700 acres in Washington and California. Today the Washington portfolio includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Northstar, Spring Valley Vineyards, Col Solare, Domaine Ste. Michelle, Red Diamond, Snoqualmie and 14 Hands. The company also owns Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (with Italy’s Antinori family), Conn Creek and Villa Mt. Eden in the Napa Valley of California, and Erath, in Dundee, Oregon. In 2006, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates became the exclusive U.S. importer for the acclaimed Antinori wine company of Italy and Chile’s Haras wines, for Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte of France in 2009 and for New Zealand’s Villa Maria Estate in 2010.