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Kay Simon and Clay Mackey, Chinook Wines

The People

To truly appreciate Chinook Wines you must become acquainted with Kay & Clay. One would be hard pressed to find two more dedicated, tireless advocates for the Washington wine industry and more specifically for the Yakima Valley. Clay and Kay embody the adage, “think globally, act locally.”

Kay Simon, a 1976 graduate in enology from the University of California at Davis, began her career working for large wine producers in California’s San Joaquin Valley and Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. These winemaking roots taught her the importance of consistency while encouraging her to seek out smaller, more expressive fruit sources and practices.

Recognized as a winemaker of the highest standards; Kay is intensely focused on making classically elegant wines intended to complement Northwest cuisine. Absolutely convinced Yakima Valley wines can rival those from the world’s most celebrated wine regions, she also participates actively in professional organizations, which encourage research and enhancement of food and wine quality. 

Clay Mackey, who helped his father plant a Napa Valley vineyard in the early 1970s, began his career as a vineyard manager for a handful of highly regarded wineries in California. In 1979 Clay headed north, attracted by the pioneering spirit of the budding Washington wine industry.

As Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Eastern Washington Vineyard Manager from 1979-1982, Clay had the opportunity to study growing regions around the state, and subsequently discovered the Yakima Valley. Ultimately the small, dedicated community of Prosser would prove to be the perfect starting place for Chinook’s own, estate-vineyard. Aside from his fastidious attention to Chinook’s vineyard, Clay works closely with the small handful of dedicated growers from which Chinook sources much of their fruit.