Food & Drink

Great Northwest Wine: ‘I knew nothing about wine’ — now he’s hooked on grapes

Not too many years ago, David Rosenthal was reading a “Wine for Dummies” book while he and his father were driving from Colorado to California.

It was 2001, and Rosenthal — a University of Puget Sound grad — was heading to Napa Valley, where he had picked up a harvest job at Robert Mondavi Winery. Rosenthal, a Colorado native, earned a degree in marine biology, so this gig was just to keep him busy while he figured out what was next for his life.

Nearly 15 years later, Rosenthal is in charge of white winemaking at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s oldest and largest winery.

“Going into it, I knew nothing about wine. Zero,” he said. “I was 95 percent sure wine came from grapes — but I wasn’t 100 percent sure.”

After working for Mondavi during harvest, Rosenthal headed north to Seattle and ended up as a lab technician in Woodinville at Washington’s largest wine company. He was there for four years before leaving to work in the Australian and Oregon wine industries. In 2007, Rosenthal was back at Ste. Michelle as an enologist. In 2011, he was promoted to assistant white winemaker, focusing primarily on Chardonnay.

When Wendy Stuckey left Ste. Michelle this spring to become a leader in the New Zealand wine industry, Rosenthal took over her position as head white winemaker. Along with head winemaker Bob Bertheau, Rosenthal will oversee production of more than 1 million cases of Riesling and at least as much Chardonnay, along with Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Semillon and other varieties.

Here are three Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnays we’ve tasted in recent weeks.