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:
Steve Warner, President
Appointed as President & CEO of the Washington State Wine Commission in February 2012, Steve came to the Commission from Merck & Co., Inc., where he was the Managing Director based in Bucharest, Romania. Prior to that, he held General Manager and marketing positions in global and regional marketing positions domestically and based in the Asia Pacific region including Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, Steve holds a MBA in international business and finance from Rutgers University. Born in Seattle, Steve attended Cle Elum High School before transferring to West Seattle High School. Steve served his country for twenty-three years in the United States military’s Special Operations Command, first as a Sergeant in Pararescue and later as a Lieutenant Commander in U.S. Navy Special Operations. You can reach Steve at 206.351.9652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hometown: Cle Elum, WA.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: When I served in Pararescue (PJs). It was the most demanding and rewarding time of my life.
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: Boating, boat repair, and fishing.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? My faith, my family, and the open ocean.
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@example.com.
- 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, HR and Finance Director
Cayenne is currently the Finance and Human Resources Director for the Washington State Wine Commission, she 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 quickly found that accounting was where she excelled and 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 8 years. Cayenne is passionate about agriculture, good food and the ocean. In her free time, you will find her studying for her CPA exam, in her garden growing a variety of fruits and veggies, in her 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hometown: Ojai, CA and White Salmon, WA.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: Baker.
- Favorite Guilty Pleasure: Peanut M&M’s.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? From Nature.
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@example.com.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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@example.com.
- 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.
Avery Dunn Mooney
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hometown: Redmond, WA.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: Hard seltzers, cider, martinis and of course, coffee.
- Favorite Thing to Pair With #WAwine: Homemade pasta!
- Share An Additional Fun Fact we might not have asked about: Creator of the “Commisshee” awards, which are handed out each December to all staff members.
Jayne Cain, Marketing Manager
Jayne oversees the planning and logistics for multiple events and programs such as Taste Washington and Road Trip. Jayne has led the development of the customization of the online registration system for wineries and participants. She has systemized the communication processes for event participants. Jayne also uses the experience she has gained from her 14 years of working with Washington State Wine to collaborate on and support additional marketing and communication department programs. You can reach Jayne at 206.499.0995 or email@example.com.
- Hometown: Snohomish, WA.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: Assistant European Tour Guide and Pledge, Special Accounts, and Product Coordinator for Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door.
- Favorite Guilty Pleasure: Watching British Edwardian and early 20th Century period movies.
- Share An Additional Fun Fact we might not have asked about: I enjoy attending wacky festivals such as the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, International Belt Sander Races, and the Kinetic Sculpture Race.
Mackenzie Pedersen, Marketing Manager
Mackenzie (Mac) joined the Washington State Wine Commission in 2018 as the Marketing Manger, 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 currently is studying for her WSET L3 exam, is a Certified Beer Server through Cicerone, and is a L1 Sommelier. You can also find her canning Channel Marker Cider – her favorite friend-owned business, walking her dog, Brix, or hanging out at the local marina hoping to catch a ride on a boat. You can reach Mac at 206.240.7102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 contemporary classical music.
Emma Hamilton, Operations Manager
Emma is the Operations Manager for the Washington State Wine Commission, serving to connect Washington wineries and vineyards with the Commission’s programs and benefits. She came to the Pacific Northwest from Montana to attend college at Pacific Lutheran University, where she majored in Hispanic Studies and English literature. She is passionate about farm-to-table connections and knowing where your food and (wine!) comes from. She has worked for the Wine Commission for 3 years and has loved learning about the collaborative and innovative nature of the wine industry in her adoptive home state. When not on the job, you’ll find her in the kitchen baking or cooking, hiking in the mountains nearby, or planning her next trip. She lives in Tacoma with her husband, two black cats, and a very cute brown dog. You can reach Emma at 206.434.1774 or email@example.com.
- Hometown: Gardiner, MT
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: I worked for two summers as assistant to the geologists of Yellowstone National Park, meaning I got to monitor thermal areas and hike to petrified trees all summer.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: peated Scotch or amontillado sherry
- Favorite Topic You Continue to Learn/Study: Cooking and food culture—I have far too many cookbooks and I love it.
Bretty Rawson, Digital Programs Manager
Bretty Rawson is a writer and editor curating at the intersection of technology and culture. Director of Programs at The Seventh Wave, a bicoastal arts organization that publishes art in the space of social issues, Bretty holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He has been awarded a residency from The Banff Center for Arts & Creativity, and has been published in The Rumpus, Narratively, PANK, Nowhere Magazine, and elsewhere. An ultra-marathon runner, his narrative maps were featured in Hoka One One’s “Top Trails” Seattle episode in 2018, and his project, Handwritten, was featured in The New York Times for their exhibit, To Whom It Should Concern, for its innovative approach to addressing education inequality in New York City. He is currently the Digital Programs Manager at the Washington State Wine Commission. You can reach Bretty at 206.484.3909 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hometown: Bellevue.
- Favorite Drink other than Wine: decaf coffee, because my nervous system doesn’t need any more stimulus.
- Previous Profession That You Are Proud Of: working on the slime line in Naknek, Alaska.
- Where Do You Find Your Inspiration? On the trails, in a book, or looking out a window at night.