The People

Because wine doesn’t make itself.

Matt Wengel  – Winemaker

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony."

Graduating with honors from the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology program was just the start for Matt. After completing several harvests in Sonoma County, he journeyed to South Africa, where he swam with Great White sharks off the coast while making wine in Stellenbosch at Warwick Estate. Later he learned Spanish in the Bio-Bio Valley in Chile, while getting to know Chilean winemakers and the wonderful local culture.

Matt next came home to the U.S. to work in upstate New York and Hunt County, aspiring to almost freeze to death making ice wine and delicious, crisp dry Rieslings. He then returned to California to a position at Stags Leap Winery in Napa Valley. Before moving to Oregon, he most recently worked at Clos Pegase for a few more years as associate winemaker, and made various other Sonoma County brands on the side. Matt has always wanted to come to Oregon, and is loving making beautiful wines at Lemelson Vineyards. Lemelson’s commitment to terrior driven, minimalist intervention winemaking from organically farmed estate vineyards is his dream-come- true job.

When not at the winery, you’ll find Matt hiking or running in the deep green woods and verdant fields of Western Oregon, trying to catch a glimpse of the majestic Mt. Hood in the distance.

Ashley Campion – Assistant Winemaker

"I'll just be over here drinking Champagne in the hammock."

Ashley moved with her family to Portland, Oregon from California at the age of ten, and then out to Carlton in high school, just up the road from Lemelson Vineyards; her sister actually worked for Eric pulling weeds in the Stermer Vineyard after the first vines were planted.

Once in Carlton, she fell in love with the Willamette Valley. Growing up, Ashley often helped out at friends and neighbor’s wineries during harvest and shared many bottles of wine on many different dinner tables, quickly realizing just how special Oregon Pinot noir is.

In an effort to save the world, Ashley went to school for Political Science at Oregon State University and spent time studying and travelling throughout Europe. When she returned to Oregon, she found herself still drawn to the wine industry. Ashley helped out on the sorting line at Lemelson Vineyards in 2009 and was quickly hired on as a full-time intern by the Winemaker. She worked at Lemelson Vineyards on and off over the next two years.

After working at a variety of producers, including Shea Wine Cellars, Brittan and Winderlea Vineyards, and Patton Valley Vineyard, she has returned to Lemelson Vineyards in the role of Assistant winemaker. Ashley is thrilled to be back at Lemelson, where she first truly fell in love with wine and winemaking. She loves that she can make wine with great folks in a gravity flow winery with incredible and diverse vineyards and call it a job!

When Ashley is not making or drinking wine, she is often found with her head in a book, her hands in the garden or cooking and traveling with her wife.

Kate Holmes – Wine Club & Shipping Coordinator

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Kate was fortunate to be born and raised in the Willamette Valley. Oregon wines were often featured at the dinner in her family’s home, back in the 70’s before Oregon was “discovered” as one of the world’s best places to make cool climate wines.

After years of working in fine restaurants, Kate took a part time job in a tasting room “just for fun”. From that moment forward she was hooked, and made the leap into the wine industry full time. After working at several Willamette Valley wineries, she was thrilled to join the Lemelson team in 2014. She feels privileged to spend her days sharing the story of Oregon Pinot noir and extolling the virtues of her latest Wine obsession …. Riesling!

Like many Oregonians, Kate spends her free time hiking, skiing or escaping to the Oregon coast. Kate is also an avid student of yoga and a loyal Portland Timbers fan. She feels truly lucky to call Oregon home and loves that she gets to make a living working alongside passionate, talented and incredibly fun humans.

Wendy Autencio-Brooker – Tasting Room Lead

"Hold open your hands and raise them high to catch as many possibilities as you can"

Wendy grew up in Lincoln City and didn’t travel far to attend college. Attending Linfield College in McMinnville, she earned dual degrees in Business with an emphasis in marketing and Education. She is an elementary school teacher for McMinnville School District. When she is not pouring wine in the tasting room or teaching, you will probably find her out running on trails or roads. She enjoys attending sporting events of all kinds. She lives in McMinnville with her husband and three sons.

Jim Esper  – National Sales

"There’s something about taking a plow and breaking new ground. It gives you energy."

Jim has been involved in the production of Lemelson wines since 2003.  He has worked alongside many skilled winemakers, viticulturists, and harvest crews over the vintages and considers Lemelson his home. Currently he plays an active role on both the National Sales and Production teams for the winery.

When not stretched out on a yoga mat, or working on his home, Jim, his wife Amy, and daughter Maya can be found walking their dog, Al Pacino, in Portland.

Ben Kaehler  – General Manager

Priscilla M. Richardson  – Accounting

"The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present."

Priscilla was introduced to wine early on and to the wine industry by virtue of working for a general contractor who started building wineries. When she decided to move on from the construction arena, an opportunity came up at a winery and she eagerly jumped the fence.

After thirteen years in the industry, she feels that she has found a home at Lemelson Vineyards. With a passion for, and a familiarity with excellent Rieslings as well as Pinot noir, she knew it could be a good fit and the welcome has clinched it.
Away from work, Priscilla loves the outdoors. Skiing and sailing are her passions but you will more often find her gardening, hiking, kayaking and walking along a river, lake or beach. If weather allows, she’ll be outside until the sun dips over the horizon, likely sipping a glass of wine and watching it go down.

James Braunagal – Cellar Master

"And though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea."

James is a native of California and a recent transplant to the Willamette Valley. Growing up in Northern California, James developed a love of the outdoors and all that nature has to offer. After graduating from U.C. Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, James was offered an internship at Chalk Hill Winery in Healdsburg, CA.

Immediately following the end of harvest in Healdsburg, James flew to New Zealand to travel and eventually end up in the Awatere Valley to experience harvest at Vavasour Winery. James took his final internship in the Fall of 2015 at Lemelson and was brought on board in November of 2015 as Cellar Master.

James loves the Carlton area and looks forward to building his own home in Oregon some day. James also enjoys cycling, home brewing, physical fitness, and Oregon’s beautiful nature