By Andy Perdue
Special to The Seattle Times
SHANE COLLINS was in a perfect position to see the apple industry failing in the Lake Chelan region, having grown up on a 50-acre apple orchard in Manson, a village on the north shore of the lake. His folks grew Red and Golden Delicious, planted by his grandfather. The farm went bankrupt a decade ago, and is now converted to vacation homes.
His family never considered switching to wine grapes, though there was talk about the rising interest in grapes when Collins was in high school. His parents grew some Concord grapes they sold as juice to Welch’s in the Yakima Valley town of Grandview. They looked at converting to soft fruits, but that didn’t happen fast enough, as the Washington apple industry crumbled around them.
After high school, Collins headed to Pullman, earning a degree in broadcasting at Washington State University. After college, an interest in wine led him to Walla Walla, where he earned a degree in winemaking at Walla Walla Community College. He landed at Spring Valley Vineyard, a premium winery owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, an experience that solidified his interest in making great red wines.