Milbrandt Vineyards makes winemaking changes on Wahluke Slope

By on July 29, 2016
Emily Haines, 33, has been promoted to head winemaker at Milbrandt Vineyards.

Emily Haines, 33, has been promoted to head winemaker at Milbrandt Vineyards. (Photo courtesy of Milbrandt Vineyards)

MATTAWA, Wash. – Seven years ago, Milbrandt Vineyards hired Emily Haines as a lab tech.

This week, the Milbrandt brothers announced they have promoted Haines, 33, to replace Joshua Maloney as director of winemaking for their 40,000-case brand.

“She has the experience and passion to take on a portfolio of over 20 varietals,” winery co-owner Butch Milbrandt stated in a news release. “She takes risks while creating unique opportunities for all to connect to our wines, whether it’s a premium single vineyard or an inviting wine of value.”

Jeremy Santo moves into the role as director of winemaking for Wahluke Wine Co., the Milbrandts’ massive custom-crush operation in Mattawa, and will remain head winemaker for Milbrandt-owned Ryan Patrick, according to spokeswoman Stacy Bellew.

Maloney headed up the winemaking at both Wahluke Wine Co., and Milbrandt Vineyards, which operates a tasting room in Prosser’s Vintners Village. The Ivy League graduate from Cornell University worked for Chateau Ste. Michelle from 2005 to 2011, rising to the ranks of lead red winemaker for Bob Bertheau before taking the position for Butch and Jerry Milbrandt.

He launched Maloney Wine – a 100-case project focused on a single vineyard each year – with the 2012 vintage. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Richland, where they raise two daughters. The Milbrandts said Maloney moved on to focus on his own winery.

Santo, a graduate of Washington State University, worked with Maloney at Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate facility. In 2012, the Milbrandt brothers hired Santo to team up again with Maloney.

Haines to work 8th vintage at Milbrandt Vineyards

Emily Haines, a graduate of Eastern Washington University, began working at Wahluke Wine Co., in 2009.

Emily Haines, a graduate of Eastern Washington University, began working at Wahluke Wine Co. in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Milbrandt Vineyards)

Haines, who grew up in Kirkland, Wash., graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2005 with bachelor’s of science in biotechnology and biochemistry. She got her start in the Washington wine industry in 2007 moonlighting as a Woodinville tasting room employee when not working in a hospital lab.

A year later, she’d moved to the Yakima Valley, working full-time in the lab for the Fries family at Desert Wind Winery in Prosser.

In 2009, the Milbrandts hired her for their expanding operations in Mattawa, where Haines began working for then-head winemaker Gordon Hill.

Two years ago, Haines was promoted to assistant winemaker at Wahluke Wine Co., which uses Milbrandt-farmed fruit to produce more than 500,000 cases annually for a number of clients. This month, she added the title of winemaker at Wahluke Wine Co. She will be in a supporting role for Santo.

“Emily joined our team in 2009 and was immersed in this brand on day one, always asking for more and more responsibility,” Butch Milbrandt said.

The Milbrandts credit Haines with producing a number of acclaimed white wines under their own brand from the 2014 vintage.

“I’m honored and I truly respect Butch and Jerry for the freedom they give me as a winemaker to experiment,” Haines said. “Milbrandt Vineyards is not only iconic in the Washington wine industry and to wine lovers everywhere, but it’s dear to the Milbrandt family and their legacy. I look forward to continuing that legacy with elegant wines that encapsulate Washington’s natural and complex terroir.”

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About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

2 Comments

  1. Troy

    July 29, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Where is Josh Maloney going? Did he pick up a new gig somewhere?

    • Eric Degerman

      July 29, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Troy,
      We are told he moved on to focus on his own winery.

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