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Mike Martin,
Owner, The Walls

Mike turned his passion for wine and curiosity about life into a second career by building The Walls. As a technology executive, he once focused on building great businesses. Now, his focus rests solely on bringing distinctive wines and great people together. He is committed to our team and supporting our efforts to produce wines that are true expressions of time and place.

“The Walls” was originally meant as a play on the Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla’s least talked about but perhaps most notorious landmark, and one that loomed just down the street from where our first wines were made. Since 1886, the “Walls” or “Concrete Mama” has surreptitiously presided over the ebb and flow of this little town, lives frozen inside while outside, growth and progress eddy past. You can’t drive into Walla Walla just to drink wine, play golf, spend time with friends and family  and not think about life behind those walls.

This contradiction is also a personal one as walls have become metaphors in all of our lives —  we put up walls to protect our hearts, we toil within the walls of work constraints, we build walls to defend what’s important to us. Nevertheless, as we build walls we’re also always looking for ways we can tear them down. Wine is the river that can overflow, subvert and topple these walls. It is a powerful force in bringing people together and building true community, capturing and preserving memories of time, places and people.

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Have you ever had that pivotal Wine Moment in your life? For Lagana Cellars founder and owner Jason Fox, it was the 2005 Chateau La Croix de Gay Pomerol, and with all due respect to the film Sideways, that f’ing Merlot was amazing! It had the characteristics of a truly balanced wine where terroir and process mattered: pure tannin structure, acidity, fruit and earthiness. At that moment, Jason was hooked, and not long afterwards, moved to Walla Walla to study winemaking.

It was at Walla Walla Community College’s Enology and Viticulture program that he discovered his passion for making whites – crisp, clean wines with little or no oak that are pure expressions of the grape, terroir and vintage. No two wines are alike across vintages and vineyards, which is what makes them fun to taste and talk about.

In 2012, Jason interned at one of the valley’s oldest and most respected wineries, Walla Walla Vintners. Working with Gordy Venneri and Myles Anderson’s winemaking team, he learned the art of making red wines that are complex and interesting with an elegant interplay of tannin and fruit. His goal with reds is to make aromatic and luscious wines with less oak and more varietal character.

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Flint Nelson
Wit Cellars

Flint Nelson is the Winemaker for Wit Cellars bringing with him close to three decades of winemaking experience in Washington. His love of art and science has culminated production of some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed and sought after wines.

He is a Washington native, who majored in Horticulture and Food Science at Washington State University. Flint is an avid gardener, who has been known to say “I know plants. Vines speak to me”.

Flint has made wines at many wineries in Washington State, such as Hogue Cellars and Columbia Winery. From 2000-2004 Flint made wines at Apex Cellars, under Brian Carter. From 2004-2015 Flint was the head winemaker at Kestrel Vintners.

His philosophy is to produce wines that showcase the purity of a given site. He believes developing partnerships with exceptional growers in the best regions, allows him to complete his craft of producing wines of elegance and restraint.

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Family owned since 1995
Owners Scott and Nici Haladay
Walla Walla Vintners

With a dream to bring their young family to Walla Walla, Scott and Nici Haladay were first introduced to Walla Walla Vintners in 2017. Already familiar with the historic winery, they were excited to get the chance to be the new stewards of the iconic red barn and Cut Bank Estate vineyard. 

Longtime wine lovers, Scott comes from a technology background and Nici is a licensed nurse. While owning a winery is a departure from their previous lives, they have embraced the Walla Walla way of life. They have brought new, pioneering spirit to the legacy of the winery. Looking towards the future, they are excited to share the Walla Walla Vintners experience with all our guests.

Winemaker Derrek Vipond 

A Washington native with deep roots in the Walla Walla wine community, Derrek Vipond is a true proponent of Walla Walla Valley. He began his career at Walla Walla Community College in the Enology and Viticulture program. After completing his education with a degree from Oregon State University in Fermentation Science, Derrek followed harvest around the world, eventually settling back in Washington with a new, worldly perspective on winemaking. Since joining Walla Walla Vintners in January 2019, he has been refining the winery’s portfolio, emphasizing meticulous vineyard sourcing, and crafting a new era of finely-made, elegant wines.

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