The Washington State Wine Commission, a staff of 12, works to implement all initiatives, programs, and campaigns decided upon by our Board, which represents our winemakers and grape growers. We each come to the wine industry from various backgrounds, but all share the same belief: that Washington Wine is meant to be shared. We are honored to work for our industry, and truly believe that Washington produces the best wine in the world.
Get to know our staff below:
Chris Stone, VP of Marketing and Communications
Chris grew up in the restaurant industry from his mid-teens throughout his college years. After graduating from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!) in 1996, he pursued a career in the golf industry with a job in the Pro Shop at Seattle Golf Club. The golf dream came crashing down with a 3-putt on the final hole of qualifying, leaving him 1-shot shy of a different path in life. After some soul searching, the episode proved to be a blessing in disguise as the Golf Club needed a Food & Beverage Director, and with a strong restaurant background and a good relationship with the club and its membership, the move to the Clubhouse in 1999 was natural. It was in this role that Chris discovered his passion for wine and began volunteering at Taste Washington and various WA wineries during a period of rapid growth for the industry. In 2005, the Wine Commission offered Chris a job as Events Director to lead Taste Washington and other Wine Commission events. Over the following years, Chris has grown along with our amazing industry and has served in his current role as VP of Marketing and Communications since 2010. You can reach Chris at 206.661.1336 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Redmond, WA.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: Failed golf professional.
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: Fatherhood and/or Winemaking.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? From my kids.
Cayenne Chonette, Director of Finance and Technology
Cayenne is a graduate of Washington State University with a BA in Business Administration Accounting. She also graduated from Western Culinary Institute, with a culinary arts diploma, as the youngest graduate in her class at the age of 17 years old. After working in the restaurant industry for several years she decided to return to school to focus on a business degree in accounting. She has worked in various industries over the years including state government, non-profit, agriculture, engineering, retail furniture and commercial real estate. She has been with the Wine Commission for over 10 years. Cayenne is passionate about agriculture, good food and the ocean. In her free time, you will find her in the garden growing a variety of fruits and veggies, in the kitchen cooking up garden fresh meals or in the Puget Sound on her standup paddle board. You can reach Cayenne at 206.499.8429 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Ojai, CA and White Salmon, WA.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: Working as a baker for a small coffee shop in Corvallis, Oregon. I loved getting up early, having the kitchen to myself, listening to music and creating a tasty array of muffins, cinnamon rolls and other pastries.
- Favorite Guilty Pleasure: Snacking on Pringles in the car.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? Longs walks in the woods, after about an hour my busy brain shuts off and the creative brain kicks in. The longer I walk the better the ideas.
Melissa Hansen, Research Program Director
Melissa is the Washington wine industry’s point person on grape and wine research. She leads the industry’s own research grant program as well as the statewide research program at Washington State University, ensuring they are industry driven and guided, with results accessible to all Washington grape growers and wineries. Before serving the Washington wine industry, she wrote grape and tree fruit articles for the Yakima, Washington-based Good Fruit Grower magazine for 20 years and spent 15 years involved in California’s table grape and tree fruit industries as research director for the California Table Grape Commission and government affairs for what is now the California Fresh Fruit Association. Melissa and her husband live in Ellensburg and grow timothy hay for the export market. You can reach Melissa at 206.669.7127 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Hilmar, rural town of 1,500 in California’s San Joaquin Valley with more dairy cows than people. The town today is home to one of the nation’s largest, privately-owned cheese companies, Hilmar Cheese Co.
- Where do you find your Inspiration? Sunrise and sunset.
- Favorite drinks: Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, Pimm’s and ginger ale, Scotch, Coors Light.
- A few farm tasks I’ve learned: Irrigate with siphon tubes, start irrigation pumps, drive tractor, bale hay, cow and sheep mid-wife, vaccinate cattle.
Heather Bradshaw, Communications Director
Heather is the Communications Director at the Washington State Wine Commission, where she manages strategic communications, industry outreach and media relations. Heather has been in the wine industry for 10 years, with previous experience at the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and Jackson Family Wines. She began her career as a journalist, working at TV stations in Yakima and Seattle. A UW grad and native of Vancouver, Washington, Heather now lives in Snohomish with her husband and two very busy small children. You can reach Heather at 206.495.5844 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Vancouver, WA.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: I spent 5 years as a journalist, first in Yakima, which is where I was introduced to the Washington wine industry.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: I have little kids, so it’s coffee. Hands down.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? When I’m out on a run, probably listening to a podcast.
David Flaherty, Marketing Director
David is the Marketing Director for Washington Wine, and moved to Seattle in 2014 after living in NYC for 14 years. He was the Operations Manager and Beer & Spirits Director for Hearth Restaurant and the Terroir Wine Bars for 6+ years, where he worked with James Beard Award Winners, Paul Grieco and Chef Marco Canora. He is a Certified Specialist of Wine, a Certified Cicerone, and holds a WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate, as well as an MFA in Acting from NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. He has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning News, and is an experienced beverage and travel writer. Since 2013, he has written a monthly column for Nation’s Restaurant News called “Raising the Bar” that explores beverage trends and restaurant operations. He has written for PUNCH, Serious Eats, Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Queens, Men’s Health, NY Cork Report, ArchetypeMe, Palate Press, Hop Talk and personal blog, Grapes & Grains. As a former consultant and wine educator, he worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. You can reach David at 206.310.1236 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Fort Collins, CO (home of New Belgium and Odells Brewing!)
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: Running operations for a NYC restaurant group. I was on a team that opened 5 wines bars, and was involved from idea phase to money raise, and through buildout to opening.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? On a multi-night camping trip with the family, far away from the screens.
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: Flyfishing. There’s no more amazing feeling than being submerged up to your chest in a river, fully immersed in nature.
Averyl Dunn Mooney, Senior Communications Manager
Averyl is the Senior Communications Manager at the Washington State Wine Commission, where she manages media relations and PR outreach efforts. A graduate of Gonzaga University, Averyl got her start in the wine industry at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. When she’s not showing media around wine country, Averyl is at home with her husband, kids, and the unofficial office mascot, Hank the golden retriever. You can reach Averyl at 206.295.5763 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Redmond, WA.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: Hard seltzers, cider, martinis and of course, coffee.
- Favorite Thing to Pair With #WAwine: Homemade pasta!
- Additional Fun Fact We Might Not Have Asked About: Creator of the “Commisshee” awards, which are handed out each December to all staff members.
Mackenzie Pedersen, Senior Marketing Manager
Mackenzie (Mac) joined the Washington State Wine Commission in 2018 as the Marketing Manager, overseeing the paid media campaigns both in Washington and nationally through selected target markets. She works directly with Chapter and Verse, the Commission’s contracted marketing agency, to develop targeted campaigns promoting the awareness of Washington wine. She is a graduate of Central Washington University, with a BS in Global Wine Studies and a BA in Communications. She has worked in the wine industry for the past ten years, most recently for a Washington-based wine importer, Epicurean Wines. She’s worked wine retail, tasting rooms, restaurants, and interned in the South of France at Domain Sainte Rose and in her hometown at 501 Consultants (Washington Wine Industry Foundation & Washington Winegrowers). She is WSET L3 certified, is a Certified Beer Server through Cicerone, and is a L1 Sommelier. You can reach Mac at 206.240.7102 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Cashmere, WA
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: I loved working at a climbing gym. I can set rock climbing routes which involves dangling fifty feet in the air with no one on belay, while also managing a bucket of plastic holds and a power drill.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: Whiskey—Scotch, American, Irish, Japanese—all of them. But I love a Sidecar (Cognac, lemon juice, triple sec) when it’s available. My personal motto “when life gives you lemons, you send them back – you ordered a sidecar.”
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? Out on the ocean, during long train rides, or listening to music.
Mia Portuese, Marketing and Events Coordinator
Mia Portuese is the Marketing and Events Coordinator at the Washington State Wine Commission, where she manages multiple events and programs for the Commission, including Taste Washington and Road Trip. A graduate of Seattle University with a BA in Strategic Communications, Mia got her start in the wine industry at Precept Wine, where she fell in love with wine. When out of the office, Mia enjoys cooking and baking, kayaking, and finding new trails to hike around the PNW. You can reach Mia at 206.499.0995 or [email protected].
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: A local Seattle IPA or a smoky mezcal negroni
- Hometown: Seattle, WA
- Previous Profession You are Proud of: Wedding planner
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: Cooking–I love being able to cook for friends and family and continue to improve upon recipes.
Kate Salisbury, International Marketing & Events Coordinator
Kate Salisbury is the International Marketing and Events Coordinator at the Washington State Wine Commission, where she helps promote awareness and support growth of Washington wines in the international market. After graduating from the University of Washington, she moved to Northwest Spain, where she fell in love with wine and its extraordinary ability to communicate a sense of place. She completed a master’s program at the University of Santiago de Compostela in tourism, with a focus on wine tourism, while completing an internship at the Martín Códax winery. Since then, she has worked for Pomum Cellars, as well as a Spanish wine importer based in Seattle, and Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants in Bellingham. You can reach Kate at 206.708.5506 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Bellingham, WA.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: A spicy bloody mary
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: City planning, public transportation, and tourism.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? In the outdoors, learning something new or drinking wine somewhere with a view.
Renee Meadors, Office Manager
Renee Meadors is the Office Manager at the WA State Wine Commission, where she manages the office’s daily functions and assists in the accounting and analytics, and annual grape report process. Renee comes to the Commission with a varied background in hospitality, hotel management, and recruiting & analytics, and was most recently on the Requisitions Team for Microsoft’s University Recruiting business group. She hopes to finally utilize her BA in French and Media Studies from Calvin University. Originally from the Midwest, Renee has lived all over the United States but has loved Washington the most since moving here in 2011. Outside of the office, she can be found either out on the trails or on the water, enjoying the wonders that the PNW holds. You can reach Renee at 206.601.1069 or [email protected].
- Hometown: Findlay, OH (yes, it’s close-ish to Toledo, right off I-75)
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: Juice! Orange, grapefruit, mango, love ‘em all. Except for apple juice. That’s where I draw the line.
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: Data Analytics, SQL, & the best macaronage techniques to bake the perfect macaron.
- Additional Fun Fact We Might Not Have Asked About: My polevaulting career was cut short when I broke my back in college. Instead, I took up Lacrosse.