The Long Shadows Story

Following a distinguished 20-year career leading Chateau Ste. Michelle, its affiliate wineries and Washington wines to international prominence, Allen Shoup retired to establish Long Shadows in 2002, the most ambitious and personal project of his storied career. Unwavering in his commitment to growing the global reputation of Washington wines, Allen also envisioned a family winery of his own. He knew Long Shadows was the path to achieving both goals, provided he could find a winemaker with the talent, creativity, range, and technical ability to pilot the project. Gilles Nicault proved to be that winemaker. He has been with Long Shadows since its inception, working alongside Allen to refine the vision for the project and collaborating with a team of all-star vintners to craft wine from their signature grape.

Allen took inspiration for Long Shadows from his good friend and mentor Robert Mondavi, whose Opus One collaboration with Baron Philippe de Rothschild furthered the prestige of Napa Valley. Inspired by the idea of international partnerships and fortunate to enjoy industry friendships spanning the globe, Allen envisioned a more complex alliance to highlight the quality and diversity of Washington vineyards. He easily recruited a dream team of winemakers. The talent pool was deep, but the winemakers were all new to Washington vineyards. To succeed, Allen knew he needed boots on the ground, someone who enjoyed strong working relationships with the Columbia Valley's best growers and was excited by the challenge of working with a divergent group of winemakers.

Gathering The Team

Gilles joined Long Shadows shortly before the start of his tenth vintage in Washington, just as Long Shadows' first celebrated vintners were signing on to the project. An international winemaker in his own right, Gilles grew up in southern France, studied viticulture and enology there, and made wine in Côte du Rhône, Provence, and Champagne. Already a winemaker of rising fame in his homeland, he traveled to Washington State in 1994 to expand his winemaking skills, working for several top Washington wineries, including Woodward Canyon. By the time Long Shadows was established, Gilles knew Washington vineyards well. He sought the position at Long Shadows, eager to merge his winemaking skills with a remarkable group of vintners.

With Gilles at the helm, Long Shadows began crafting wines inspired by iconic winemakers, each of global prominence and famous for their mastery of a particular variety and style:

  • Randy Dunn, Dunn Vineyard, Napa Valley (Feather Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Agustin Huneeus Sr. and Philippe Melka, Quintessa, Napa Valley (Pirouette)
  • John Duval, Penfolds, Barossa Valley (Sequel Syrah)
  • Michel Rolland, Chateau Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol (Pedestal Merlot)
  • Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari, Tenute Folonari, Tuscany (Saggi)
  • Armin Diel, Schlossgut Diel, Nahe Valley (Poet’s Leap Riesling)

Gilles own wine, Chester-Kidder, was the first Long Shadows red produced in 2002.

The winemakers joined Long Shadows as co-owners of their wine, not as consultants. In so doing, Allen reasoned, each partner would be vested in learning more about Washington State's vineyards, and Long Shadows' wines would exemplify the viticultural excellence of the Columbia Valley.

Long Shadows' celebrated vintners traveled to Washington State frequently in the early years, collaborating with Gilles on vineyard preferences, picking and fermentation protocol, barrel selections, and final blending. When construction started on Long Shadows' state-of-the-art Walla Walla winery in 2005, Gilles knew what was needed to design and outfit the new facility to each vintner's exacting specifications. As the years passed, and the wines continued to show remarkable consistency under Gilles direction, the partners' visits to the Columbia Valley naturally became less frequent.

In any company the quality of its products begins and ends with the employees who produce them. At Long Shadows, I've had the good fortune to be able to surround myself with highly dedicated, conscientious and talented people whose exacting efforts have led to the success of our award winning wines. I can't thank them enough for all that they do.

— Allen Shoup, Founder

Today, Long Shadows' original team of celebrated vintners is no longer directly involved in production, but the signature style of each winemaker can be tasted in each glass of Long Shadows wine. Gilles sees to that, as he always has, by skillfully maintaining their long-standing methods and techniques.

Recruiting winemakers from around the world, each to produce a single Columbia Valley wine representing a “best of type,” was only half of the plan. Allen knew each winemaker would come with their own winemaking techniques and requirements, so a world-class winery was designed and built, capable of making wine to each winemaker’s rigorous specifications. The results were almost immediate. Acclaim for the wines and for the project followed, and in 2007, just four short years from its inception, Food & Wine Magazine named Long Shadows “Winery of the Year.” Since then Long Shadows has continued to produce highly-sought-after and highly-acclaimed examples of the best Washington can produce.

Over the years, Gilles and Allen have experimented with small quantities of uniquely styled wines for their personal and family enjoyment. A few of these wines became too good not to share with their “extended family” and now are available with Long Shadows' other current releases. They include Dance Chardonnay, Cymbal Sauvignon Blanc, and Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, named after Allen’s granddaughter.

Aubrey, Ryan, Kathleen and Allen Shoup, and Dane and Sara Narbaitz

A Family Winery

In 2005 Dane Narbaitz joined Long Shadows as director of sales and marketing. Coming from a successful career working with some of the wine industry’s biggest names, he was named president in January 2008 and CEO in 2022. Dane’s addition to Long Shadows was more than a smart hire, it also represented a homecoming of sorts, as Dane is Allen’s stepson. Long Shadows continued to strengthen its family ties with the addition of Dane’s wife Sara, a marketing and communications veteran with a decade of experience working at Microsoft. She joined as director of communications in 2010. Shortly after graduation from college, Allen’s son Ryan Shoup was brought on as Woodinville tasting room manager. He is now director of retail sales and oversees the tasting room in Woodinville, as well as the Nine Hats Wines tasting room and adjoining restaurant, Nine Pies Pizzeria in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.

The dedication Long Shadows has for the highest standards of winemaking, combined with a work culture that truly supports the growth and development of its employees, helps maintain the quality of the wines through the fostering of our collective passion.

— Matt Bangs, Assistant Winemaker

The closeness that starts with the Shoup family extends throughout the rest of the team, and the camaraderie and familiarity present in the staff underscores everything. Although Long Shadows produces a wide array of wines, the team remains tightly-knit, consisting of a small group of skilled and dedicated employees. Most have been with the winery for years, and share life’s challenges and triumphs together. This kind of community can't be bought, and along with being a key winemaking advantage is an immense source of company pride.

Continuing to push the envelope

Long Shadows remains at the forefront of the industry, utilizing cutting-edge winemaking equipment and techniques to further explore the limits of Washington’s unique terroir. With each limited-production release, striving towards Allen’s original vision of establishing Washington State as one of the world’s premier wine regions.

Floramie Ang Erika

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