Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington State, will step down on 1 October 2018.
“Ste. Michelle has been my other home for more than three decades,” said Baseler. “However, it’s time to live life away from the winery, which means transitioning the company to new leadership.”
Baseler has been with the company for 34 years, including 17 years as president and CEO. Over that period, he increased operating company income from $21m in 2000 to $146m in 2017, with a compounded annual growth of 12.1%. Wine shipment volumes grew from 2.8m cases to 8.5m cases over that same period.
He has focused on building a high-quality portfolio that now includes such storied wineries as Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Conn Creek in California, as well as a number of wineries in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Chateau Ste. Michelle. The company also entered into a number of prestige winemaking partnerships, including with Antinori, Miguel Torres and Villa Maria. The portfolio, owned by Altria – the giant tobacco company once known as Philip Morris – buys close to three quarters of all the state’s grapes.
Beyond that, Baseler is widely credited with establishing Washington’s reputation, while also being known for his philanthropy and his commitment to wine education. He was appointed by the Governor of Washington to the Washington State University (WSU) Board of Regents in 2006.
“Ted’s innovative approach to building Ste. Michele into a premium powerhouse, driven by his ‘string of pearls’ philosophy, will be a lasting legacy,” said Howard Willard, chairman and CEO of Altria Group.
Baseler will be succeeded by Jim Mortensen, who has “global experience in consumer packaged goods businesses,” according to a company statement.