The People Behind the Great
Shirley and Gail Puryear
Gail and Shirley
Puryear met at Washington State University. They were married in
1968 and moved to California where Gail worked as a teacher and
Shirley as a social worker.
They moved back to Washington in 1979 where Gail took a job as
principal in the Toppenish School District. They planted
the vineyard in 1980 and harvested the first grapes in 1984.
They started the winery in 1985 with Chardonnay, Riesling, and
Gail was able to leave public education in 1992 and pursue
winemaking as a full-time career. Gail remained the winemaker
until 2007 when the title was turned over to Bill and Gail
became the Vigneron.
Shirley has always been the CEO and Wine Goddess.
Bill Mechem is from Springfield, MA. As the child of a Czech
immigrant he was brought up in a European household where he was
exposed to food and wine from a young age. He spent most of his
teen years working in restaurants and traveling to Europe as
much as he could.
After six years of working in commercial kitchens he came to the
realization that making wine was really his calling. He packed
up his car and headed out west, and ended up in the Yakima
Valley. Bill wandered into Bonair Winery looking for work and
was hired for the summer as a cellar rat.
In the fall of 2003 he enrolled in the oenological school in
Walla Walla and then became an assistant winemaker for Whitman
Cellars. Bill was then offered a job as cellar master for
Silver Lake Winery in Zillah in 2004, where he learned how to
make wine in a very large commercial setting.
In 2005 after enjoying a nice dinner with Gail and Shirley, he
decided to come back to where he started and become winemaker at
Alfonso helped us lay
our brickwork on the driveway and helped with some landscaping.
We had such a good time together, that he continued to work for
us in the vineyard and is now our Vineyard Foreman. Alfonso
knows every square inch of the vineyard, supervises pruning and
picking crews when we need them, and can fix just about anything
mechanical. He also is the one who remembers where we have
buried electrical lines, water lines, and drain lines.
He is a valuable employee and friend.
Adette was born and
raised in Bellingham. She started working in the retail
business at age 15, and never left - furniture stores, jewelry
stores, you name it - with customer service imbedded in
her for over half her life.
After as stint in Alberta where it was much too cold, a mutual
friend brought Adette to our tasting room. Her love of wine,
contagious enthusiasm, and management skills have landed her
what she has called her "perfect Job." As hospitality
Manager she loves meeting the happy people that come through the
doors and leave even happier.