Amavi Cellars and Pepper Bridge Winery have welcomed Aaron Smith to the newly created position of national sales manager.
The two family-owned properties have a longstanding partnership co-promoting their Walla Walla Valley estate wines, according to an announcement. Smith’s addition is expected to bring fresh ideas and energy in expanding the wineries’ reach outside the Northwest, said winemaker/partner Jean-François Pellet.
Smith will work closely with the owners, particularly partner Travis Goff. Goff said Smith stood out from an array of applicants as a fit for the culture at Amavi and Pepper Bridge.
Smith most recently served as regional sales manager for Vintage Wine Estates, where his major focus was on territory development and national/regional accounts. He brings more than a decade of industry experience, including stints as the wine director for a luxury hotel and the statewide sales manager for a small wine distributor, the announcement said.
A Washington native, Smith said the position is a chance to return to his roots.
“Being a part of the original wholesale team for a larger wine portfolio was an exciting adventure,” he said in a prepared statement. “I wasn’t planning a career change but after stumbling upon the job offering and meeting the families, the desire to apply my experience to building these small, estate properties and promoting this emerging wine region became clear. The excitement surrounding Walla Walla and these wineries is compelling, to say the least.”
Amavi and Pepper Bridge are owned, in different configurations, by the McKibben, Goff, and Pellet families of Walla Walla. Washington wine-growing pioneer Norm McKibben conceived of Pepper Bridge Winery, which created its first vintage in 1998. That winery focuses on estate-grown, Bordeaux-style blends. Amavi Cellars, which began producing in 2001, is known for its estate-grown syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Both properties are 100 percent Walla Walla Valley and certified sustainable.