Bill Sweat and Donna Morris
Founders

Second careers, a well-planned next chapter, the pursuit of our shared passion – all in some way describe our new life in Oregon. The kernels of Winderlea were spun over milestone birthdays and anniversaries, travels to our favorite wine regions, and nightly dinners with a bottle of wine after good and not so good days at the office.

In the early 90s we fell in love with Pinot noir. Its elegance and sensuality – and the beautiful way it paired with a range of foods delighted us. As we tasted through wines from across the country we found the characteristics we most loved in Oregon Pinot noir. We believe it is due in large part to Oregon’s unique climate and soils paired with the heritage of artisanal craftsmanship and an obsession with making small lots of the highest quality wine. On a practical level we found the Oregon wine community to be a collaborative one – where newcomers are welcomed, tutored and expected to perfect their craft.

In 2006 we relocated from Boston and have made Dundee, Oregon our home. We are committed to continuing the traditions of responsible stewardship of the land and the highest quality artisan winemaking.

KC Marold
Direct Sales Manager

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 9.06.31 PMA Northwest native and graduate of McMinnville’s Linfield College (go Wildcats!), I had my first foray into the wine industry as a student working part time and finishing my degree in Economics and Studio Art.  The uniqueness of the industry, the opportunities it afforded and the community I was becoming a part of had me hooked.  I spent several years managing hospitality programs before deciding I was ready to see a different aspect of the industry.

With boundless enthusiasm and absolutely zero cellar experience, I headed to Marlborough, New Zealand to do my first harvest.  What was intended to be a six month sebatical turned into five years, six countries, nine harvests and a lifetime’s worth of experience and memories.

While I certainly have not exhausted my desire to travel, I am quite happy to be selling wine again, wearing clean clothes and to have found a home back in the Willamette Valley and here at Winderlea.  The winemaking team even lets me in the cellar now and again.

Cat Kaczynski
Tasting Room Manager in McMinnville

A native of Massachusetts and graduate of Boston University, I was lured into the world of food and wine through my time working in restaurants in New England.  My thirst for both wine and knowledge of it led me to work in New Zealand where I spent time in tasting rooms from Marlborough up to Waiheke Island off the coast of Auckland.

Returning to the United States with a better understanding of the industry and a 9 month old New Zealand Huntaway puppy named Marjee, I settled in the Finger Lakes and immersed myself in the wine community.  A four month road trip and a need for some adventure led me to the Northwest, where I began a new chapter here in the Willamette Valley.

After working in several tasting rooms here in Yamhill County, I am very happy to be in McMinnville’s granary district at the Brittan and Winderlea Winery Tasting Room.  There is never a dull moment in downtown McMinnville and it’s great working so closely with the Winderlea/Brittan cellar crew.

If I’m not waxing poetically about Pinot noir in the tasting room, I’m most likely enjoying Oregon’s rugged coastline or out hiking with Marjee. We both love mushroom season, good books and a great hat.

John Sutton
Lead Tasting Room Ambassador

johnI was born in Falkirk, Scotland and spent most of my youth in a small town in West Lothian Scotland called Bo’ness. The son of an Irish woman and a Scottish man, I am a member of both the Lovat and Frasier clans. As a youngster I had great ambitions of becoming a professional soccer player and later on a musician. While I failed to make a full time living at either, both are still very important in my life.

After feeding my desire to travel throughout Europe, I earned a History degree in Roman Archeology. I married in 1980, and raised a family of four lovely girls. Beginning in the 1990s I was able to combine my passion for travel with my skills as a teacher and taught in New Zealand as well as in Saudi Arabia, where I worked for King Fahad. Teaching abroad opened me up to travel. I visited Australia, Papa New Guinea, the Polynesian Islands, Syria, and parts of Northern Africa to name just a few. My travels introduced me to many wines and ignited my love for the subject as well as the grape.

In 2011 I married an American and together we live very happily in sleepy Carlton, Oregon. I have been lucky that I have managed to resume my wine career, which started while working in a retail wine shop in New Zealand. All of this has contributed to a very content new life with my wife Victoria here in America. That’s my story as briefly as I could make it. Come visit Winderlea and I’ll update you on the newest chapters of my life’s book.

DeAnna Ornelas
Tasting Room Ambassador

Coming from Kansas, I am a proud alum of my hometown Wichita State University.  After spending my early career in insurance sales, I decided to take a work hiatus to travel through Argentine wine country.   That experience sparked a passion for wine that would lead to a new career, beginning in a wine shop in Wichita, which is where I discovered my love for Oregon wine.

Following a desire to be in the thick of the action, I soon moved west and in April of 2015 joined the team at Winderlea.  When I’m not behind the bar in the tasting room, I love exploring Portland and my new Pacific Northwest home, where I am settling in quite comfortably.  Besides a love of wine, my favorite things include laughing incessantly with friends, traveling and Law and Order SVU.

Jeremy Saxton
Winderlea Tasting Room & Wholesale Ambassador

 

Jeremy SaxtonOld England born and New England raised, my childhood memories include day trips across the English Channel to stock up on old world wine and evenings begging my father to let me down in the cellar to pick out the next bottle.   Attending college in the beautiful Finger Lakes and a semester abroad in Australia’s Margaret River wine region only fueled my desire to learn more about the world of wine.

I started my career in pharmaceutical sales and quickly discovered that my burgeoning wine knowledge was of equal or in some cases greater interest to my physician clients (and myself).  Under the guise of law school in Colorado, I began my journey west, pursuing my passion for skiing and eventually meeting a Bay Area gal who just happened to enjoy wine as much as I did.   After graduating law school we headed to California’s wine country, got married and began exploring other wine regions both near and far.

It was the provincial charms of Portland and the Willamette Valley that led us to relocate to Newberg, where we immersed ourselves in the joys of wine country.   Spending weekends searching out the best tasting rooms lead me to working a harvest here in Dundee, beginning my wine studies and eventually land at Winderlea in July of 2015.  When not on Winderlea business you usually find me at home cooking for my beautiful wife and daughters, walking my dog along the Tualatin River, and escaping for ski days on Mt Hood and Mt Bachelor.

Ann Leisy
Shipping Logistics and Compliance Specialist

anneAlthough an Arizona native, the Red Hills of Dundee have been my home for 23 years; talk about extremes. While I will always love the desert, this beautiful, lush valley is the place I feel at peace. After a short career as a reading resource teacher for the Mesa Arizona Public School system, my journey northward began. I left southern California seven years later in search of a livable place away from the crowds to raise a family and continue to grow our college textbook publishing business. Ironically, there were 3 giants of college publishing living in this valley, two of whom, had already traded in their book-bags for vineyards.

With the kids grown and the publishing company sold, what should a girl who lives in the middle of wine country do? Sharing the bounty of our beautiful area with friends and family is how it started. Then as the wine industry matured and my friends and neighbors began making wine, becoming involved seemed like a really good fit.

Great wine, beautiful views and most importantly a loving, supporting community is what this area is all about. I get to have all the fun of working in a vineyard and winery and even be able to walk to work. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.