We were honored to have some of our most celebrated industry veterans share their stories with us to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Washington State Wine Commission in 2012. Established by the legislature in 1987, Washington State Wine provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. The work done by Washington State Wine would not be possible without the vision and leadership provided by the people featured in these essays.

Washington Wine Groundbreakers

Balcom & Moe

Maury Balcom

Maury Balcom was instrumental in forming the Washington State Wine Commission in 1987, helping to write the legislation and lobby lawmakers to pass the bill.



Dick Boushey planted his first Yakima Valley vineyard in 1980, and credits pioneers like Dr. Walter Clore with his success.



Chris Camarda started making wine in a tiny garage in Queen Anne before building his impressive winery and home on Vashon Island.

Champoux Vineyards

Paul & Judy Champoux

Paul and Judy Champoux opperate Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, selling their distinctive fruit to some of Washington State's top wineries.

Ciel du Cheval Vineyards

Jim Holmes

Jim Holmes helped Scott Williams plant the first vineyard on Red Mountain in 1975. He know operates his own vineyard called Ciel du Cheval, which produces some of the most sought after red grapes in the state.

Snoqualmie Winery

Joy Andersen

Joy Andersen was hired by Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1981 as a lab-tech before becoming head-winemaker at Snoqualmie in 1991.

J. Bookwalter Winery

John and Jerry Bookwalter

Jerry Bookwalter started managing Washington State vineyards in 1976 and made his first Bookwalter wines in 1983. Son John joined the winery in the late 90s

Quilceda Creek

Alex Golitzin

Quilceda Creek was founded in 1978 by Alex Golitzin with help from his uncle, legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff.

Barnard Griffin Winery

Rob Griffin

In 1983, Rob and his wife, Deborah Barnard, started Barnard Griffin as a side project while Rob worked at Preston Wines and Hogue Cellars. Daughters Elise and Megan now work full-time at the winery alongside their dad.

L'ecole No 41

Marty Clubb

L'Ecole No 41 is housed in a historic Frenchtown schoolhouse in Lowden, Washington - just west of Walla Walla. The winery was originially founded by Marty's in-laws, Jean and Baker Ferguson in the 1970s.

Vashon Winery

Ron Irvine

Ron Irvine first got into the wine industry by opening Pike & Western Wine Shop in 1975. In 1997, he published The Wine Project, a book on the history of winemaking in the state. Now he is the owner and winemaker at Vashon Winery.

Hedges Family Wine Estate

Tom Hedges

Tom Hedges was instrumental in securing Red Mountain’s American Viticultural Area designation in 2001.

Seven Hills Winery

Casey Mcclellan

Casey McClellan helped his father plant the first block of Merlot in the now-legendary Seven Hills Vineyard in 1982.

Delille Cellars

Chris Upchurch

Head winemaker at DeLILLE Cellars, Chris Upchurch was the first winemaker in Washington to create a red Bordeaux Blend, in 1992.

Kiona Vineyards and Winery

John and Scott Williams

John Williams, along with Ciel du Cheval vineyard owner Jim Holmes, planted the first vineyard on Red Mountain in 1975. His son Scott now manages Kiona winery and several Red Mountain vineyards.

Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter

Brian Carter received his degree at University of California, Davis and worked at six different Washington wineries before starting his own label, Brian Carter Cellars in the 1990s.

Leonetti Cellars

Gary Figgins

Gary and Nancy Figgins started Leonetti Cellars, the first winery in Walla Walla, in 1977. His children, Chris and Amy, have taken over day-to-day operations of the winery but Gary is still involved in the winery and supporting wine education in Washington state with annual scholarships to the Walla Walla Community College enology program.

Klipsun Vineyards

Patricia Gelles

Patricia Gelles and her husband David helped plant grapes at neighboring Ciel du Cheval and Kiona Vineyards before deciding to plant their own in the 1980s. Klipsun Vineyards are well known for great Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, among other Bordeaux varietals.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Doug Gore

After working in California vineyards at the beginning of his career, Doug Gore was recruited by then Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker Kay Simon in 1982 to move to Prosser and help with winegrowing. Gore now works as executive vice president of vineyard operations, overseeing the extensive vineyards owned and contracted by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Thurston Wolfe Winery

Wade Wolfe

Wade Wolfe crushed his first grapes for Thurston Wolfe winery in 1987, after working at Chateau Ste. Michelle and as a consultant in the vineyards for many wineries. Thurston Wolfe now produes 6,000 cases of wine a year, including some "under-the-radar" varietals such as Zinfandel, Lemberger, and Orange Muscat.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Ted Baseler

As CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Baseler has been dedicated to giving back to the Washington State wine industry through his involvement with the Auction of Washington Wines and Washington State University's Wine Science Center

Januik and Novelty Hill Wineries

Mike Januik

Mike worked at Chateau Ste. Michelle for 10 years before his wife Carolyn encouraged him to start his own project. Now his sons Andrew and Donny help make the wine at their state-of-the-art winery in Woodinville.

Long Shadows Vintners

Allen Shoup

The former CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle launched Long Shadows Vintners in 2002, creating partnerships with great winemakers from around the world.

Woodward Canyon Winery

Rick Small

Rick Small opened Woodward Canyon, the 2nd winery in Walla Walla in 1981 after planting wine grapes on his father's farm. Rick and his wife Darcey's latest project is operating a small farm store set up to sell summer produce from Woodward Canyon’s ever-expanding garden..

Badger Mountain Vineyard & Powers Winery

Bill Powers

Bill's agricultural roots go back to western Oklahoma, where he began farming at 18. He moved to the Columbia Valley in 1957 to become a tree fruit farmer. Badger Mountain and Powers winery was started in 1988.

Betz Family Winery

Bob Betz

Bob Betz began his wine career in 1975 at Chateau Ste. Michelle and began his own winery, Betz Family Winery, in 1997. He and his wife Cathy have attended every AWW since its inception 25 years ago.

Chinook Wines

Kay Simon & Clay Mackey

Kay and Clay established Chinook Wines in 1983. They met while she was an assistant winemaker and he was a vineyard manager, both at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas is one of their biggest fans

Latah Creek

Mike Conway

Mike Conway started out as the first winemaker at Hogue Cellars but left in 1984 to commit fully to Latah Creek, striving to be "the best small family winery in the state." Now, his daughter Natalie is part of the winemaking team.

Sevein, Les Collines, and Seven Hills Vineyard

Norm Mckibben

Norm McKibben moved to Walla Walla in 1985 to "retire" when he entered the apple business, which serendipitously led him to the wine grape business. Now Norm is an owner or partner in some of the most renowned vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley.