Tobacco titan keeps Ste Michelle


The suspense is over, at least for the foreseeable future, at Ste Michelle Wine Estates – Washington state's largest wine company and pied piper for the production of Washington Riesling – after the announcement that its owner, tobacco giant Altria Group, will not sell its wine division.

Altria, best known (dubiously) as the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, acquired Ste Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE) in Jan 2009, as part of its purchase of smokeless tobacco producer UST Inc, SMWE's then-owner.

Altria said at the time of acquisition that it would study the wine business before deciding whether to sell or keep...