Raymon McKee joined Chateau Ste. Michelle as its Assistant Red Winemaker in 2008 and was promoted to Red Winemaker in August 2011. Based at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate red winery near Paterson, Washington, Ray manages day-to-day operations and reports to head winemaker Bob Bertheau.
“My goal is to bring out the grapes’ sense of place into the finished wine, especially from our distinctive Canoe Ridge Estate and Cold Creek vineyards.”
Prior to joining Chateau Ste. Michelle, Raymon worked for the past 14 years as a winemaker in Washington state with wineries including Heaven’s Cave Cellars, Covey Run Winery and Claar Cellars.
Raymon describes his winemaking philosophy as based on the belief that the best grapes yield the best wines.
“I believe there is no substitute for detailed, conscientious winemaking decisions throughout the whole winemaking process, from picking the grapes, to blending the wine to bottling. There are literally a hundred decisions to make when crafting a wine and each one has an affect on the quality of the finished wine – so a good winemaker must pay very close attention to each wine.”
Raymon has enjoyed being a part of the rapidly growing Washington wine industry for more than a decade and is equally as optimistic about the region’s future.“Our growing conditions in Eastern Washington are unique, which is why the grapes are so good - from the long summer days and cool nights during harvest, to the arid climate and irrigation systems to the vines planted on their own roots,” says Raymon. “Our fruit will only get better as well. Remember that most of the wine in Washington is made from grapes that are barely 15-20 years old, and Washington’s wine quality is equal to and surpasses regions of the world with much older and established vineyards.”
Raymon notes that best part of his job is making a product that people enjoy. “It is very rewarding to make something that people get pleasure from and share with family and friends over a good meal,” says Raymon. “It’s also fun when I get feedback from consumers, trade and friends when they like a wine that I helped make. Probably the best example of that is when I met my wife Emily, and during our first conversation I found out that her favorite wine was one that I made…so needless to say our relationship got off to a great start!”
Raymon attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and majored in Chemistry.