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Stag’s Leap backer steps down after 17 years as president of Ste. Michelle

Published:  23 August, 2018

Ted Baseler, the man who brought Stag’s Leap winery under the auspices of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is retiring after 34 years with the company.

Baseler has been president and CEO since 2001.

At that time, Ste. Michelle was almost exclusively focused on wines produced in the Washington area where the company is based, but Baseler is credited with significantly growing the business with several high-profile acquisitions.

The most famous is Stag’s Leap winery of the Judgement of Paris fame, which Ste. Michelle purchased along with Italian winemaking icon Marchese Piero Antinori in 2007.

Baseler’s successor has also been announced.

Jim Mortensen will over the reigns when Baseler steps down on October 1, bringing expertise from outside the company.

After joining in 1984 as director of marketing, the now 64-year old Baseler said it was “time to live life away from the winery” and hand over to new leadership.

During his 17-year tenure at the top, operating income grew from $21 million to $146 million last year, while shipments grew from 2.8 million cases to 8.5 million cases over the same period.

Stag’s Leap – not to be confused with Treasury Wines Estate’s Stags’ Leap– has been distributed by Enotria since 2014. 

Stag’s Leap stamped its name in the minds of the international community at the 1976 Judgement of Paris, where it’s California cabernet won in a blind tasting against four Bordeaux and five other Cali-produced wines.

Baseler also initiated an importer division.

Exclusive arrangements were made with several leading producers in their regions, including Marchesi Antinori (Italy), Miguel Torres (Spain, Chile), Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (France) and Villa Maria (New Zealand).