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First Ladies of Washington Wine Event

March 23, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 4:00 pm


The Alliance of Women in Washington Wine Honors the Industry’s “First Ladies”


Join the AWWW for this very special luncheon and panel discussion to celebrate the early women pioneers of the Washington wine industry. Speakers will share firsthand how their hard work, determination, and belief in their talents shaped a now internationally recognized and respected wine region.

There are only 100 seats available for this event. Tickets include a BBQ salmon lunch hosted by sponsor Anthony’s Restaurants, wine donated and poured by women winemakers from across the state, and the opportunity to participate in a silent auction.

Funds raised will benefit the recently established Alliance of Women in Washington Wine Scholarship program that was developed in partnership with the Washington Wine Industry Foundation. A yearly $5,000 scholarship is awarded to a female or female-identifying student enrolled in a viticulture or enology degree program in Washington state. We are grateful to Trysk Print Solutions, our premier sponsor for this event.

For more information, including registration, visit:


Kay Simon, Enology

Kay is a partner and winemaker in Chinook Wines, located in the Yakima Valley. An early interest in food and nutrition led Kay to enroll at the University of California at Davis, where she began to study nutrition and German language. Kay continued studies in Fermentation Science with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1976. Further development of her winemaking career was in Central California and the Yakima Valley, where she met and married her husband and business partner, Clay Mackey. They began Chinook Wines in 1983 and continue to operate their small winery in Prosser.

Dr. Sara Spayd, Plant Science

Dr. Spayd is a native of Montague, NC and a 1970 graduate of Burgaw High School. She was an Extension Viticulturist Specialist in the Dept. of Horticultural Sciences in North Carolina State University. Prior to that, she was an Extension Food Scientist/Food Scientist in the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Washington State University, Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center. During her tenure in Washington State, she worked with the grape and wine industries seeing them grow from 15 wineries to over 300. Dr. Spayd and Mr. Jack Watson launched the still popular Viticulture and Enology Extension Certificate Programs in 2003.

Lila Gault, Marketing

In more than four decades as a wine and food marketing guru, Lila Gault had the pleasure and privilege of working with some of the most talented winemakers, farmers and chefs in America. Her pioneering efforts for the Washington wine industry were launched in 1983, when the Washington legislature awarded the State Dept. of Agriculture $300,000 to launch a two-year Washington Wine Marketing Program. Gault, a freelance food and wine journalist from Bainbridge Island, was hired to design and implement the new program. With the guidance of a seven-member Advisory Board of industry experts, she created a multi-targeted promotional campaign to introduce the infant WA industry to journalists, retailers and market influencers across the country.

Mimi Nye, Viticulture/Vineyard Manager

Mimi happened upon Horticulture through a one credit course while at UW. She was hooked and found the Horticulture course at WSU, not knowing it was farming! Her first job out of college in 1976 was at Columbia River Farms in Paterson, where she advanced to Agronomist for 7,000 acres of row crops. She left for a couple of years to work at the Prosser Experiment Station before returning to the Paterson farm. When Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard was being developed in 1991, she was the vineyard’s first manager. Three vintages of Canoe Ridge Estate wines landed on the Wine Spectator Top 100, a Merlot, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cheryl Barber Jones, Enology

Cheryl graduated from WSU in 1976 with a BS in Food Science. Her first job was with Chateau Ste. Michelle as a lab technician. Joel Klein, the winemaker at the time, encouraged her to become involved in all the fining and blending trials. That training led her to be promoted to White Winemaker in 1981. In 1984 she became the Head Winemaker. Cheryl helped with the making and blending of over 1.5 million gallons of wine. In 1990 she left Chateau Ste. Michelle and one year later started her own business as a wine consultant.

Linda Mercer, Viticulture/Marketing/Stories

Linda Mercer is a retired, former Wine Industry Professional. She and her husband, Donald Mercer, met at the University of Washington and moved to Horse Heaven Hills in 1967. In 1972 they (and Linda likes to point out, she), planted the first wine grapes in what is now the Horse Heaven Hills American Viticultural Area. A decade later they opened a winery together, Mercer Ranch Vineyards. Linda spent 19 years working for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates as the Guest Services Manager at Columbia Crest. During her career she was an instrumental part of Wine Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley Winery Association, Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers Association, and the founding committee of the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center.

Luanne Holden-Boushey, Viticulture/History/Stories

Luanne graduated from UW in 1976 with a degree in Art Education, followed by a Masters Degree from Heritage College in Counseling in 1994. She and her husband Dick Boushey planted their first experimental block of wine grapes in 1977, which they used to make their own wine with a group of friends. In 1980 they planted their first commercial vineyard, growing Boushey Vineyards over the years into what it is today. Luanne and Dick also manage other vineyards located on Red Mountain allowing them to retain employees year-round. Luanne taught in the Prosser and Grandview school districts from 1976 until 2009 when she retired to work for the farm full time.


March 23, 2023
11:00 am - 4:00 pm
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Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center
2140A Wine Country Rd
Prosser, Washington 99350
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