Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard Manager Mimi Nye to Retire after 35 Years
After 35 years in viticulture with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Mimi Nye will retire April 9th. Her departure will mark the end of an era for Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard where she has been the sole manager since the vineyard’s inception in 1991. Mimi’s achievements and involvement in the advancement of the Washington wine industry was recently honored by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers when they named her “Grower of the year” at their annual meeting in February.
“Mimi’s contributions are incalculable,” said Mike Means, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Director of Vineyard Operations. “She has been the only vineyard manager Canoe Ridge Estate has ever had. She has poured her heart and energy into the development and nurturing of this now iconic Washington state vineyard and the results of those efforts are captured in the bottle of each and every vintage. She often refers to the vines as her babies and she has spent the last 25 years raising those vines to produce exceptional grapes.”
Mimi leaves behind a legacy of stewardship, innovation and dedication. In her career, she led her team of dedicated employees in the planting and development of nearly 600 acres and grew Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard into the icon it is today, known throughout the state as among the finest producing vineyards of premium wines. Through Nye’s expertise and commitment to sustainable vineyard practices, she helped secure third party LIVE and Salmon Safe certification for the Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard in the fall of 2009.
“Looking back on my 35 years in viticulture, I am most proud of what this vineyard has achieved,” explained Nye. “To me, the vineyard is like a person, with its own personality and its own challenges. My job as vineyard manager is to get to know the vines so I can understand what they need in order to produce exciting wines that bring joy to the people who will drink it.”
During Nye’s tenure, three Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate wines made Wine Spectator magazine’s prestigious “Top 100 Wines of the World” list. (2006 Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet, 2004 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay and 1999 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot.)
“I will miss the Ste. Michelle family, because we truly are a family.” Nye said of her decision. “I hope to find things to do that are as fulfilling as growing grapes for great wine. It will be a new chapter in my life and I can’t wait to find new things to learn and enjoy.”
In her stead, Kari Smasne has been promoted to Vineyard Manager at Canoe Ridge Estate and Pedro Flores, currently Production Supervisor at Canoe Ridge Estate, has been promoted to Assistant Vineyard Manager.
Smasne began her career with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates as an intern in 2004 and after graduating with her bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in 2006, began working in the viticulture department. From 2006 to 2008, she held a Viticulture Technician position and was promoted to Viticulturist in 2008. Most recently she has supported the winery’s Cold Creek and Col Solare vineyards and has worked with a number of the winery’s high tier contract growers. In her new position, she will be responsible for coordination of daily vineyard operations and the continuation of vineyard replanting and expansion projects.
“Kari has been working in our Viticulture department for nearly a decade.” Means said. “She has worked closely with our winemaking staff to insure delivery of the highest quality grapes possible and will do a great job managing this iconic vineyard.”
Pedro Flores began his career with Ste. Michele Wine Estates in 1987 during which time he helped develop various vineyard sites including Canoe Ridge Estate. In 1991, Pedro became a team member of Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard under Mimi Nye. He has overseen the day-to-day work of the vineyard staff that manage the vines to ensure production of the highest quality grapes.
“Pedro has been instrumental in the development of the vineyard.” Means added. “He has an innate aptitude for identifying planting sites that has contributed to the current landscape of the Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard. His dedication and passion for producing high quality fruit has influenced the esteemed culture of our wines at Canoe Ridge Estate.”
Looking to the future of Canoe Ridge Estate, Nye said she feels she is leaving the vineyard in good hands.
“I hope they will find joy in managing the vineyard and producing delicious wine from it,” Nye said. “They are both capable and passionate about the vineyard, so I know they will do great things.”