Winemakers and General Managers – Dan Wampfler and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler

What is your/your family’s story around your winery? How did you first become involved in the wine industry and what has your trajectory looked like?
Amy: Daniel and I met at Columbia Crest. I was working as the winery’s white wine enologist, managing over 10,000 barrels of Chardonnay. He was an assistant red winemaker, part of the team responsible for crushing, fermenting, aging, blending, and bottling 14,000 tons of red grapes. The hours could be long, especially during harvest, but Daniel always found ways to make it fun and keep me laughing. We started dating and were married in 2009.

Dan: Eventually, Amy joined Sinclair Estate as winemaker and general manager, and I became head winemaker at Dunham Cellars. We both liked what we were doing but missed working together, so when Abeja knocked on our door in late 2015, we jumped at the chance to collaborate. We make all winemaking decisions together, including when to pick, fermentation techniques, barrel choices, and blending options. Making wine with your best friend and most trusted confidant is a joy.

How long have you been making wine in Washington state?
Amy: I have been making wine since 2005.

Dan: I came to Washington to take a position with Chateau Ste. Michelle after earning a master’s degree in enology more than 20 years ago.

How did you first begin working with the grower?
Amy: Abeja was founded on the belief that estate-grown fruit not only differentiates a wine but also strengthens the winemaker’s ability to make a consistent style and offer exceptional quality. To further our quality focus, we started farming our Walla Walla vineyards in-house in 2018. Jorge Lopez was our first hire, bringing 20 years of Walla Walla Valley grape growing experience with him.

What excites you the most about the wines you’re making?
Dan: Aside from working with my spouse and best friend, working with estate grapes. Our Mill Creek vineyard is outside the winery door, and Skysill is a three-minute drive. We communicate with the vineyard team daily. It’s a tremendous advantage to have vineyards fully integrated with winemaking and entirely under our control. Viognier is a good example. It can ripen rather sporadically. As we move towards harvest, we taste grapes to make picking decisions weekly, daily, and sometimes 2-3 a day. We might ask Jorge to pick a row one day and the rest of the block the following morning. It allows us to be dynamic in our approach to winemaking.

What is your favorite part about the Washington state wine community?
Amy: The Washington wine industry is very collaborative. We work together to raise awareness for our state’s wines and to find ways to improve quality in everything we do. There is genuine agreement that a rising tide lifts all boats.  

What excites you the most about what the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
Amy: More tasting rooms now focus on educating the consumer and telling the Washington wine story rather than just pouring wine. That makes a more interesting experience for the guest. As hospitality and the overall guest experience improve, appreciation for the quality of Washington wines will continue to grow.

Dan: Two things. First, it’s exciting to see the generational evolution of our industry as families pass grape growing and winemaking from one generation to the next. Second, the appreciation consumers have for the quality of our wines. Washington wine drinkers see what we’re building here, and they are excited to be a part of it.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Amy: I’m excited by the food and wine pairings Chef Jake Crenshaw is putting together at The Kitchen at Abeja, such as the buttermilk fried quail with maple cardamon brown butter on a sourdough waffle served with our estate Viognier. It was sublime.

Dan: It’s hard to beat a perfectly grilled steak and Cabernet.

Vineyard Manager, Abeja Estate Vineyard – Jorge Lopez

What is your/your family’s story around wine grape growing? How did you first become involved in the wine industry and what has your trajectory looked like?
My dad and grandpa farmed sugar cane in Mexico, and I worked with them before my family moved to Walla Walla in the early 1990s. After high school, I joined Leonetti Cellars as a vineyard worker and gained responsibility as I learned. I worked for Leonetti for almost 15 years and have been growing grapes for 26 years.

How long have you been growing grapes in Washington state?
I have been growing grapes since 1997, all in the Walla Walla Valley.

How did you first begin working with this winery? After I left Leonetti, I worked for Seven Hills Vineyard before joining Abeja as the estate vineyard manager in 2018. I oversee grape growing at the winery’s Mill Creek estate, the site surrounding the winery, and at Skysill, a beautiful hillside vineyard just down the road from the winery.

I was Abeja’s first full-time vineyard employee. Before that, vineyard management was contracted. The winery wanted to have more control over its estate grapes by employing a team of its own, and it’s been exciting to have the opportunity to work closely with the winemakers.

What excites you the most about the grapes you’re growing or the techniques/equipment you’re using?Every vintage is different. Each comes with challenges. I work closely with the winemakers to produce the highest quality grapes possible, given the conditions of the growing season. No day is the same because each growing season is unique.

What is your favorite part of being a part of the Washington state wine community?
I enjoy working with people from different backgrounds and countries; there is always something to learn.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed, or what trends are you seeing?
The reputation of Washington and Walla Walla Valley wines has grown significantly since I started growing grapes in the late 1990s. Our wines are respected worldwide, and we are getting better constantly. We are still a young growing region, but we know so much more than we did 20 years ago. We know more about managing the vineyard for various growing conditions and have learned more about the best places to plant vines. Careful thought is given to the planting location of each vine, taking the variety, elevation of the site, and sun exposure into consideration.

What is your favorite wine and food pairing?
Merlot is my favorite wine, and I love it with my wife’s carne asada. I also like Abeja Chardonnay or Abeja Beekeeper’s Rosé with sushi.

Juan Segundo

Crew Leader, Abeja Estate Vineyard – Juan Segundo

What is your background, how did you come to work at the vineyard?
I have a long background in growing apples and grapes in the Walla Walla Valley and came to Abeja to focus on quality grape growing full-time.

How long have you been working in this capacity?
I’ve been with Abeja for five years.

What excites you the most about working in the vineyards?
I enjoy learning new techniques for growing quality grapes and appreciate the patience it takes. I like learning new ways to do things, and I also appreciate that the team at Abeja takes time to explain the “why” behind what we do. It’s all about quality.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I like learning new things and also feel appreciated as a person here at Abeja, not just another worker.

What do you think the future holds for Washington state wine? Where are we headed or what trends are you seeing?
The wine industry offers excellent job opportunities, and I believe these opportunities will grow as we continue to find ways to make better wine through our work in the vineyard.  

What fact can you share about your job that wine-drinkers might not know?
We put a lot of hard work and dedication into every plant so that each vine can produce the best grapes possible.


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Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 741-0212



The Northwest Wine Benefit Foundation, DBA Auction of Washington Wines, is committed to supporting the growth and awareness of the Washington state wine industry through a series of celebrated events benefiting our community. We have raised over $63 million since our inception in 1988. 

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