Stimson Lane Wineries: Ted Baseler

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Ted Baseler shelved much of the marketing he learned during an agency career when he left for the wine business 17 years ago, but the shift has served him well.

Wine marketers need to avoid aggressive package-goods-style "media tonnage," or media blitzes, that will make a wine lose its "special" cachet, says Mr. Baseler, who jumped to the client side after years at a variety of agencies.

The executive has effectively applied his careful marketing blend to two labels at Washington state's Stimson Lane Wineries-Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest.

These brands have not only moved to capture the lion's share of wine sales in the Pacific Northwest but have grown the region's reputation nationally. They represent what some believe is the Holy Grail of the wine world: wines $15 and under that are ranked among the world's finest at any price level.

Mr. Baseler, 47, last January rose from VP-marketing to president-CEO of UST Inc.-owned Stimson Lane, and says high-quality products are quickly recognized by wine critics, who in turn drive sales. By focusing on wine quality, he was able to more than double profits for the first half of 2001 to about $8 million.

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