Winemaker Profile: Kay Simon of Chinook Wines
One of the leading woman winemakers in Washington state, Kay Simon of Chinook Wines, has been a force in the industry for almost 30 years. Along with her husband Clay Mackey (his background as a vineyard manager), the pair is a dream team for the estate focused boutique winery.
Name: Kay Simon Location: Prosser, Washington (Yakima Valley)
1. Who or what inspired you to become a winemaker? I have always been interested in foods, gardening and cooking. My father and his friends made wine together in some of the years of my youth – and our family raised beef & chickens (for eggs) and had a large garden. I guess gravitating to food and wine was fairly natural. I first had nutrition in mind as my university major, but fermentation classes seemed really interesting! I did receive a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Fermentation Science from University of California at Davis.
2. If you weren’t working with wine what do you think you’d be doing instead? Ummmm . . . well the last paying job before the wine business was lifeguard. No idea (actually it would likely be the brewing business).
3. What current wine trend do you particularly like (or dislike)? I don’t particularly care for the proliferation of “cutsie” labels. Especially the ones with frivolous looking women on the labels.
4. What is your go-to wine (varietal, region) – other than Washington, of course! Sauvignon Blanc definitely. No particular region, though I like some New Zealand and Lake County, CA (after Washington, of course).
5. What advice can you offer to a first time wine drinker? Pay attention to your own taste – not the ‘experts’ or your friends!
6. If you could make wine with any winemaker in the world, who would it be? I would love to visit the Loire Valley in France and make Cabernet Franc with one of the winemakers there. I have admired the wines of Charles Joguet in particular.
7. What do you like to do when you are not making wine? Swimming or (downhill) snow skiing or cycling with my husband, Clay.
8.What charitable organization pulls at your heartstrings? Well, right now I’m assisting on wine procurement for the Bailey Boushay House chef’s dinner, coming up on January 15th. (Part of Virginia Mason Foundation). I have done this for many years, in honor of a cousin who died of AIDS.