Our Board and staff bring extensive experience, knowledge and passion to serve the Washington wine industry.
WWIF Chair Mark Wheeler began his career as a physician after graduating with a medical degree from Yale University. Seven years, later he started a medical software company with a fellow doctor, and become one of the first companies to create digital medical records. After a 30-year career as a medical informaticist, Mark officially retired in 2012. Mark spent over 30 years as a board member of medical technology and pharmaceutical companies, and officially joined WAWGG in 1999 after becoming interested in the wine industry. Mark earned his certificate in Enology and Viticulture from WSU and in 2000–along with viticulture and financial partner Tedd Wildman–founded Saddle Mountain Vineyards.
REPRESENTING: Saddle Mountain VineyardsHide
Vice ChairRead more
WWIF’s Vice Chair Carol Munro is the Director of Community Relations at Ste. Michelle, managing their charitable contributions program. Prior to Ste. Michelle, Carol was the Executive Director of the Auction of Washington Wines for seven years and the Executive Director of PONCHO, a fundraising organization for the arts in Seattle. In addition to WWIF, Carol also serves on the boards of Woodinville Chamber of Commerce, Woodinville Wine Country Association, and Cornish College of the Arts.
REPRESENTING: Ste. Michelle Wine EstatesHide
Rob Sullivan comes to WWIF after a long career in the financial and banking industry. After earning his degree from Seattle University, Rob worked with Seafirst Bank where he managed the lending department, financing small to medium businesses. Through his role at Seafirst, he met his future business partner, Bill Owen. The two share a passion for winemaking and Washington wine, and together founded O-S (Owen-Sullivan) Winery in 1997.
REPRESENTING: O-S WineryHide
Since his arrival on the Washington State wine scene in 1980 when there were just 16 wineries, Brian continues to influence this industry which now boasts more than 750 wineries and is growing weekly. His involvement as winemaker, consultant, and guide to dozens of wineries has helped elevate the Washington wine industry from a regional industry to an international powerhouse.
Brian’s early curiosity about microbes led him to study microbiology at Oregon State University where he discovered his appreciation for the wines of Oregon. After two years at the University of California-Davis School of Enology, Brian honed his winemaking skill with stints at esteemed California wineries Mount Eden Vineyard and Chateau Montelena. But the Pacific Northwest beckoned, and Brian returned to join early Washington winemaker Paul Thomas Winery, where his skills and artistic touch marked him as a winemaker to watch. Since then his wines have garnered many awards, and this string of accomplishments led him to pursue a career as a consulting winemaker.
Brian was twice touted as “Winemaker of the Year” by Washington Magazine, and he is the only three-time recipient of the Pacific Northwest Enological Society’s Grand Prize. Often recognized by his peers, Brian was the Honored Vintner at the 2007 Auction of Washington Wines, and he received the prestigious Industry Service Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.Hide
WWIF Director Paul Champoux grew up in the hop yards of the Yakima Valley on his family’s farm. In 1979, after attending Seattle University to study Business Management, he started his career as Vineyard Manager for Ste. Michelle Vineyard. Paul was instrumental in the installation of 2,300 acres of wine grapes for Ste. Michelle. From 1989 to 1996, Paul managed other vineyards until he and his wife, Judy, purchased the vines now called Champoux Vineyards. Paul was on the Board of Directors of WAWGG for nine years and Chairman of the Board for three years. Paul has been a part of WWIF’s Board of Directors since its inception and is also Chairman of the Board of the Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers. Paul and his wife, live on their vineyard in Alderdale, WA.
REPRESENTING: Champoux – Lady Hawk VineyardHide
Formerly co-owner of Gamache Vineyard, Roger Gamache is a fourth generation family farmer. Roger grew hops and juice grapes in the Yakima Valley until 1981. The following year, Roger and his brother Bob began wine grape growing, and in 2002 they started making wine as Gamache Vintners. In addition to his role as managing partner of the winery and training the 5th generation in the family business, Roger is the former chairman of the WWIF, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, Winegrape Growers of America, and Landowners Water Association. Roger is the father of three girls, and resides in Eastern Washington.
REPRESENTING: Gamache Ag ServicesHide
Jerry Judkins-Smith is the principal at Sphere Foods as well as co-owner and president of Inland Desert, Inc. Jerry has grown Sphere Foods from the ground up, importing and exporting juices and natural colorants with sales now spanning the US, Argentina, South Africa and Australia. He was awarded “supplier of the year” from Ocean Spray for his innovative ideas.
While keeping Sphere Foods thriving, Jerry has also focused his interest and energy back into the Tr-Cities where he grew up. Under his leadership, Inland Desert, Inc. has grown to 6 million certified clean vines, vineyards and mother blocks that are growing the cleanest plant material in the world along with a certified organic cherry orchard that has become a success in itself. Jerry has expanded the facilities to allow year-round employment for their experienced crews and increased quality controls that support sustainable agriculture practices. He is committed to expanding his business and transforming the community into a more vibrant area to live, work and play.
REPRESENTING: Inland Desert, Inc.Hide
WWIF Director Stephanie Meier is an Associate in the Corporate Group of Stoel Rives, LLP. Stephanie focuses her practice in the area of food and beverage law, advising alcohol beverage industry clients in all aspects of state and federal licensing and permitting, and post-licensing regulatory compliance. She also works in local and national marketing promotions, state and federal label and packaging compliance, tax issues, contracts, and distribution issues. Stephanie is a graduate of Seattle University School of Law (J.D., 2008, cum laude), Seattle University School of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL Certificate, 2000), Whitman College (B.A., 1998) and attended IES Freiburg/Universität in Frieburg, Germany (1997.)
REPRESENTING: Stoel Rives, LLPHide
Jamie Peha is the President of Peha Promotions, LLC, a strategic marketing and promotions company that delivers results through idea generation and relationship building for large and small businesses. Peha Promotions blends wine, beverage, food and philanthropy into creative campaigns, business development plans and event concepts and actively promotes the food and beverage lifestyle through its signature event, the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, the premier showcase for food and beverage in the Pacific Northwest. Jamie is also a freelance writer and frequent judge at tasting events as well as the founder of TableTalk Northwest, a media platform that offers a “backstage pass” to culinary and wine happenings in the Northwest and beyond and interviews with today’s tastemakers. Giving back is a constant theme both personally and professionally and Peha is currently the Vice President of Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, on the Chairman’s Board for the Auction of Washington Wines, in addition to serving as Director of WWIF.
REPRESENTING: Peha Promotions, LLCHide
Bill Shibley grew up on a cattle, hay and timber farm in Oregon. After graduating with a BS in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Oregon State in 1989 and an MBA from Nova Southeastern in 1998, he worked for Northwest Farm Credit Services. Bill served in a variety of roles at NWFCS, including as the Pasco Branch Manager. In 2016 Bill transitioned to General Manager of CHS Connell Grain. Bill has served as the leader of both the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pasco Chamber of Commerce. He is currently on the WSU CAHNRS & WSU Extension National Campaign Council and a Club Leader for Badger Mtn. 4-H club. He lives in West Richland with his wife and four kids.
REPRESENTING: CHS Connell GrainHide
WWIF Director Simon Siegl began working in the wine industry in 1985. As Executive Director of the Washington Wine Institute, he focused on government initiatives to protect and enhance the business environment for wineries. Perhaps his most important legislative initiative was the creation of the Washington Wine Commission, where he also served as Executive Director. In 1996, Simon moved to Washington, DC to become President of WineAmerica, a trade association representing 700 wineries in 47 states, where he served as primary spokesperson and represented interests of U.S. wineries to all levels of government. Simon established CoEfficient Consulting service in 2005, focusing on strategic planning, marketing and exit planning for the wine industry and related businesses.
REPRESENTING: Coefficient ConsultingHide
With more than 20 years of experience as a marketing specialist, event strategist and fundraising consultant, Sherri Swingle brings her expertise in turning great ideas and projects into successful and profitable endeavors. Sherri focuses on establishing relationships and implementing strategic change. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director for Northwest Wine Benefit Foundation, producing the nationally recognized Auction of Washington Wines — a series of events promoting Washington wines and raising funds for area beneficiaries. Previous clients and partners include Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Washington State University, Savor the Central Coast Food and Wine Festival (Visit San Luis Obispo.)
REPRESENTING: Sherri Swingle Consultant & StrategistHide
Tom Waliser has served the wine industry on the board of WWAGG for eight years and held the position of chair for two terms. In addition to farming 275 acres of wine grapes and 200 acres of apples in the Walla Walla valley, Tom owns and farms his personal vineyard and recently opened an estate vineyard winery, Beresan
REPRESENTING: Waliser Vineyards and Beresan WineryHide
Executive DirectorRead more
As Executive Director of WWIF, Vicky manages all aspects of this unique Foundation. During her more than 30 years of organization management experience, Vicky has received numerous national communications awards. She was instrumental in developing an international strategy for Washington’s apple industry during the Alar crisis and as they entered the Japanese market. Prior to launching her own consulting company, Vicky was Executive Director of the Washington State Horticultural Association, and with the Washington State Apple Commission in multiple roles. She also worked for the Department of Agriculture in both Washington State and her home state of Wisconsin. Raised on a 260-acre dairy farm near Waumandee, Wisconsin, Vicky earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin and an MPA from the University of Washington.Hide
Program ManagerRead more
With a background in community engagement, event planning, marketing, and project management, Lacey is WWIF’s Program Manager. After graduating from Seattle Pacific University, Lacey spent five years working at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she helped shape the foundation’s first community relations strategy. She also worked on international community-building, organizing events in Germany and Qatar to promote global health and development through the TEDx platform. At the same time, Lacey co-created “Party with a Purpose,” an annual event that brings 1,000 young professionals together to celebrate and raise funds for the work of local global health organizations. She worked in New Zealand at Craggy Range Vineyards, and later served as Manager of Events and Member Outreach for the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce.Hide