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One of Washington’s largest wineries gets OK to add tanks for up to 8 million gallons

What happens after wine grapes are harvested

Freshly harvested Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapes wait to be processed at the Halter Ranch winery in Paso Robles, Calif.
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Freshly harvested Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapes wait to be processed at the Halter Ranch winery in Paso Robles, Calif.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is expanding the tank farm at its massive Columbia Crest Winery in Paterson by up to 8 million gallons — enough to fill Pasco’s two water towers on Road 68.

Benton County authorized the $600,000 storage project in March after first determining it would not significantly harm the environment.

Ste. Michelle characterized it a minor expansion at Columbia Crest, one of Washington’s largest wineries.

“The new tanks are part of our ongoing efforts to maximize efficiencies and storage space at the winery,” said Ryan Pennington, spokesman for the parent company.

Columbia Crest already has more than 60 tanks of varying sizes at Paterson, where it is an anchor for the Horse Heaven Hills American Viticultural Area spread along the Columbia River.

Ste. Michelle
Columbia Crest winery, formerly called Chateau Ste. Michelle’s River Ridge Winery, is in Paterson, is authorized to expand its wine storage tank farm by up to 8 million gallons. File Tri-City Herald

Ste. Michelle does not disclose its total tank storage capacity.

And Pennington said it currently is not building the full 8 million capacity allowed under the permit.

Still, 8 million gallons is a breathtaking quantity of vino.

A gallon fills five standard wine bottles, so 8 million gallons could fill about 40 million bottles.

According to project documents, the new tanks and pads will be built to the west of the current tank farm.

The project will displace about six acres of vineyard and includes moving 90,000 cubic yards of soil to create a new platform for the tanks to sit on.

MH Construction is building the project.

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Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.
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