With more than 1,000 wineries, over 400 grape growers, and 60,000-plus acres of vineyards, Washington is the second-largest wine-producing state in the country. The state’s diverse terrain makes for a unique and exciting area to produce wines, with more than 20 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and more vines being planted every year.

As the industry expands, so does its diversity. More women winemakers, grape growers, and experts continue to step into the field and make an impact in this historically male-dominated industry. According to the Washington State Wine Commission, more than 250 women currently work in leadership roles within the state’s wine industry. These women are farmers, operations directors, winemakers, cellar masters, hospitality managers, and more. And their numbers are only growing.

So, grab your favorite glass of Washington wine, and get ready to discover a few of the rockstar women in Washington’s wine world.

Get to Know Some of the Women in Washington Wine

Fiona Mak

SMAK Wines, Walla Walla

Photo Credit: Stephanie Forrer

A proud graduate of the Walla Walla Community Enology & Viticulture program, Fiona Mak is the owner and winemaker behind Smak Wines, where she exclusively produces rosé. Influenced by visits to the French Riviera, Fiona was inspired to promote year-round rosé drinking. She created a rosé for each of the four seasons, with each unique rosé encapsulating and representing the season through a different varietal choice and winemaking technique.

Fiona brings an impressive hospitality background. She graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Syracuse University before going on to manage some of the most reputable restaurants in the business including Quality Meats in Manhattan. Her knowledge of food and wine is evident in her creative pairings— from ramen to uni—that accompany her wines at SMAK’s many events.

Don’t let the playfulness of the concept of the aesthetics of the labels fool you. These wines are incredibly approachable and garner acclaim from locals, critics, and publications alike. SMAK Wines’ 2019 Spring Rosé of Sangiovese was named the No. 1 wine on The Seattle Times’ list of 2020’s top 20 Northwest wines under $20.

Also See: Walla Walla Travel Guide

Sarah Hedges Goedhart

Hedges Family Estate, Benton City

Photo courtesy of Hedges Family Estate

Sarah Hedges Goedhert is the second-generation winemaker at Hedges Family Estate in the Red Mountain AVA outside Tri-Cities. One of the most prominent wineries in Washington State, Hedges is credited as being among the pioneering wineries that established Red Mountain as a premier wine-growing region in the Pacific Northwest.

Sara studied chemistry at UC Santa Barbara while simultaneously working for Santa Barbara Winery as both a tasting room associate and assisting with the harvest. She went on to work for Preston Vineyards in Sonoma County before returning to Benton City to join the family business in 2006. Sara became the head winemaker in 2015 when her uncle and mentor retired, making her the first woman Head Winemaker at Hedges since its inception in 1987.

Under Sara’s leadership and winemaking practices, all five of the winery’s vineyards have made the transition to biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farming is an entirely natural process that relies on a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to viticulture. It goes a step beyond organic farming by treating the vineyard as a living organism, and integrating organic farming methods with specific biodynamic preparations and lunar cycles to enhance soil health and grape quality. Now, over half of their estate vineyards are Demeter Certified Biodynamic, with the rest of the estate in transition. (Demeter USA is the only certifier for biodynamic farms and products in the United States).

Sarah’s wines have won many prestigious awards, including Red Wine of the Year (among others) at the Sommeliers Choice Awards in 2019, and continue to be favorites among critics. Hedges was the recipient of The Auction of Washington Wine’s Healthy Land, Healthy Communities Award in 2023.

See Also: How to Spend 3 Days in the Tri-Cities

Lacey Lybecker

Cairdeas Winery, Lake Chelan Valley

Lacey Lybecker is the president and owner at family-owned and operated Cairdeas Winery, where she manages all business operations while also taking an active role in the harvest and cellar work. Depending on the time of year, you’ll often find Lacey tending to the vines, sampling, blending, or bottling. All of the wines here are inspired by the Rhône Valley of Southern France.

It was on a trip to Australia in college that Lacey first fell in love with wine during a visit to a vineyard. She went on to have a successful career in marketing management before rediscovering her love for wine in Washington State. In 2009, she started Cairdeas with her winemaker husband, Charlie, in West Seattle before moving to the stunning Lake Chelan Valley in 2012 to chase their wine dreams and raise their family.

Lacey and Charlie pull Rhône varietals from five different prestigious vineyards across Washington, including their own estate vineyard that produces syrah, picardan, and clairette blanche (all Rhône varietals).

Shae Frichette

Frichette Winery, Benton City

Photo Credit: Kim Fetrow

Shae Frichette is the co-owner and assistant winemaker at Frichette Winery in Benton City. Here, Shae and her husband,Greg, make bold wines that celebrate the beauty and robustness of the Red Mountain AVA, which boasts some of Washington State’s most coveted grapes.

Their boutique winery started off producing 650 cases with their first vintage in 2011. Today, they proudly produce nearly 3,000 cases a year. In 2017, Shae introduced Sashay Wines, a label for Frichette that focuses on approachable red wines and off-dry rosés.

When she’s not making wine, Shae is an active community advocate and passionate wine educator, serving on the Board of Directors of the Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Red Mountain AVA Alliance, Visit Tri-Cities, and other wine and community organizations. She also founded the Benton City Giving Garden Project; an organization where over a dozen wineries grow food and provide monetary donations to the local food group.

“It’s a treat to see more women leading in wine, tasting rooms, vineyards, the cellar, and sales. It’s also beautiful to witness leadership encouraging women to get into this business and apply for leadership roles.” 

Also See: Explore Washington Wine Country

Sadie Drury

North Slope Management, Walla Walla 

Photo Credit: Jamie Brown Photography

As the general manager of North Slope Management and the vineyard manager/viticulturist at Seven Hills Vineyard, Sadie Drury has established herself as one of the most prominent women in Washington wine and a true expert in the agricultural side of the industry.

Sadie’s passion for farming and agriculture started at a young age and blossomed into a career that led her to attend the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. In 2008, she began working as an intern at Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, where she moved up before joining North Slope Management in 2013.

There, Sadie and her team ensure the best care and farming practices for the fruit they manage for many wineries in the state. The area she manages spans hundreds of acres, six vineyards, significant variations in elevation, and many different varietals of grapes.

Sadie carries many accolades, including “Grower of the Year” by the Washington Winegrowers in 2020 and was named a 2021 Wine Enthusiast “40 Under 40 Tastemaker”. She was also the first female to be appointed Chair of the Washington Wine Commission Board of Directors in 2022, where she takes pride in being a voice for industry members.

Katie Nelson

Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville

Katie Nelson is the vice president of winemaking at Chateau Ste. Michelle, overseeing production at Washington State’s largest winery. Katie’s interest in wine started at an early age; it was always on her Italian grandparent’s kitchen table on Sunday afternoons. “I noticed how wine brought people together with plenty of laughter and good food to go around for everyone,” she recalls. “I loved how vibrant life felt in those moments.”

Katie attended Sonoma State University and signed up for an enology class on a whim. Within a week, she changed her major and went on to take her first winery job as a crush intern in Healdsburg at the age of 21. In 1999, she moved to Washington State and began her job with Chateau Ste. Michelle as an enologist, going on to also work for Columbia Crest and H3 before taking on her current role, one of the most prestigious and prominent in the state due to the magnitude of Chateau Ste. Michelle.

“Nowhere else in the world is there as much diversity in varietals as Washington,” Katie says. “We have it all in just a few hours in every direction. It’s an honor to help build the momentum for Washington wines and find their place on the world stage.”

In 2023, Katie was honored with the Grand Vin Award by the Washington Winegrowers Association, which is given in recognition of extraordinary winemaking talent crafting exceptional wines impacting the winery, brand, winemaking process, and industry at large. Katie is the first woman to receive this honor.

Devyani Gupta

Valdemar Estates, Walla Walla

Photo Credit: Stephanie Forrer

Devyani Gupta is the head winemaker and viticulturist for Valdemar Estates, a fifth-generation winery with roots in Rioja, Spain. Devyani joined the winery in 2019, where she has done a tremendous job carrying their legacy and vision to the State of Washington.

Devyani graduated from the Enology and Viticulture Program at Walla Walla Community College, and went on to work at North Slope Management and Figgins Family Wine Estate, before joining the Valdemar family.

Beyond being a talented winemaker and viticulturist, Devyani is passionate about fostering inclusivity in the wine industry. She serves as a mentor in the Bâtonnage Forum, as chair of the Walla Walla Community College Enology & Viticulture Program’s Advisory Committee, and as a Board Commissioner for the Washington State Wine Commission. Devyani also received the Emerging Leader Award in 2023 from the prestigious Auction of Washington Wines.

Betsey Wittick

Bainbridge Vineyards, Bainbridge Island

While 99% of grapes in Washington are grown on the east side of the state, Betsey Wittick has devoted her career to growing grapes in the Puget Sound AVA at Bainbridge Vineyards. Here, Betsey serves as grape grower, winemaker, and head owner, striving to craft wine that is a true reflection of the land and the people who steward it.

With a master’s in horticulture from Cornell University, Betsey started her journey in viticulture and winemaking in 1989. In her role at Bainbridge Vineyards, she has integrated the use of draft horses into the vineyard’s hands-on, vine-to-glass winemaking style. “We are both farmer and winemaker at Bainbridge Vineyards. To honor this rare privilege, we believe in a ‘whole systems’ approach.” 

This woman-led winery and vineyard has been growing and sourcing grapes from their certified organic vineyards since 2013, when they reopened as a cooperative effort. Many of these co-owners now own their own farms in Kitsap County, where they focus on rare varietals that thrive in the Puget Sound.

Kerry Shiels

Côte Bonneville, Richland

Photo courtesy of Côte Bonneville

Kerry Shiels is a second-generation wine grower and winemaker at family-owned Côte Bonneville, and her love for wine runs deep. Kerry’s first venture into the industry was at a young age, when she used grapes from her family’s newly planted, and now esteemed, DuBrul Vineyard to make wine for a series of middle school science projects.

She went on to earn her master’s in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis before becoming the winemaker at Côte Bonneville in 2009. Kerry brings knowledge from Napa, Argentina, and Australia to her winemaking style and has worked in all facets of winemaking with the likes of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Robert Mondavi Winery, Tahbilk Winery, and Tapiz.

Kerry is highly respected for her commitment to crafting wines that reflect the unique terroir of the Yakima Valley AVA and for her contributions to sustainable farming practices in the region. She’s been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and many other publications and podcasts.

Mari Womack

Damsel Cellars, Woodinville

Damsel Cellars partners with some of the best vineyards in Washington State, and Mari Womack works to craft each bottle to perfection. As the owner and head winemaker, Mari touches every facet of the business, from production to operating the tasting room.

Her love for wine began during her time working in Seattle restaurants, and the passion only grew from there. She began volunteering and working in Woodinville tasting rooms in 2010 and became a vibrant member of that wine community, working at the likes of Obelisco Estate and working harvest at Baer Winery.

Mari became the assistant winemaker at Darby Cellars in 2011 before opening the doors of Damsel Cellars in 2012 in the Artisan Hills area of Woodinville.  A second location followed in 2023.

Her team is entirely women-led and consistently produces critically acclaimed wines. Mari was named a “Winemaker to Watch” in the 2016 summer issue of Washington Tasting Room Magazine and continues to be a force in the Washington wine world.

Ashley Trout

Brook & Bull Cellars and Vital Wines, Walla Walla

Photo Credit: Stephanie Forrer

Ashley Trout is the owner and winemaker behind Brook and Bull Cellars and Vital Wines in Walla Walla. An avid world traveler, her time spent living in Argentina inspired Ashley to craft one of the best Malbecs in Washington State, and she opened her first winery, Flying Trout, in 2006. She sold the brand in 2010 and later went on to found the two wineries she operates today.

Brook & Bull opened in 2016 with a focus on fine varietals and nontraditional blends with a low oak profile. Ashley strives to break the mold by crafting wines with no expectations or rigid tradition and to create wines that highlight Washington State’s unique terroir. Brook & Bull’s sister winery, Vital Wines, is a 100% non-profit business with all proceeds going to support Walla Walla Valley winery and vineyard workers gain access to affordable healthcare. Although the winery was started by Ashley, it’s a true community effort and almost all of the fruit and labor are donated by partner vineyards and wineries.

Ashley has long been a voice for women in wine in Washington and beyond. In 2018, she was named a 40 Under 40 Tastemaker by Wine Enthusiast, one of Wine’s Most Inspiring People by Wine Industry Advisor in 2020, and was selected for the Emerging Leader Award by the Auction of Washington Wines in 2023.

Jordan Small

Woodward Canyon Winery, Walla Walla

Photo Credit: Stephanie Forrer

Jordan is a second-generation winery owner at prestigious, family owned Woodward Canyon Winery. Started in 1981 by her father, Rick Small, Woodward Canyon was the second winery established in the Walla Walla Valley (there are now more than 120!) and has played a significant role in establishing the area as a premiere winegrowing region.

Jordan grew up playing in vineyards with her brother and washing wine glasses at events. After she graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2006, Jordan returned to Walla Walla to pursue a career in the wine industry and went on to hold various positions in different capacities, from managing sales at Tertulia Cellars to running the lab at Long Shadows Vintners. Jordan officially joined Woodward Canyon in 2013, where she now serves as general manager.

Today, Jordan is an advocate for Washington and Walla Walla wine and currently serves as board president on the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance Board of Directors.

About the Author

Stephanie Forrer is an acclaimed writer, photographer, and content creator in the Pacific Northwest. An Alabama native, she moved to Seattle in 2013 before relocating to Walla Walla in 2020. Stephanie has a deep passion for the hospitality industry and loves sharing her favorite restaurants, hotels, wineries, coffee shops, and hidden gems. When she’s not traveling or exploring a new restaurant, you’ll find her wine tasting, hiking, or cooking with her husband Marcus and their pup, Shiso. Follow Stephanie’s travels on Instagram or X at @StephForrer.