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Board Members


Headshot of Founder Jim Bernau smiling

James W. Bernau

Jim Bernau has been President and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Company since its inception in May 1988. Willamette Valley Vineyards was originally established as a sole proprietorship by Oregon winegrower Jim Bernau in 1983, and he co-founded the Company in 1988 with Salem grape grower, Donald Voorhies. From 1981 to September 1989, Jim was Director of the Oregon Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (“NFIB”), an association of 15,000 independent businesses in Oregon. Jim has served as the President of the Oregon Winegrowers Association and the Treasurer of the association’s Political Action Committee (PAC) and Chair of the Promotions Committee of the Oregon Wine Advisory Board, the State of Oregon’s agency dedicated to the development of the industry. In March 2005, he received the industry’s Founder’s Award for his service. His qualifications to serve on the Company’s Board of Directors include his years of leadership of the Company (since 1979), his wealth of experience and his contacts in the industry.

Board Member, Craig Smith

Craig Smith, CPA, MBA, JD

Craig Smith has served as a director since October 2007 and as Secretary since 2009. He previously served as the Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon and is currently serving as College Support Officer. He was an Adjunct Professor at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University as well as Managing Partner of a large local CPA firm. He has served on many State of Oregon commissions, and he has served as the Board Chairperson for many of the local non-profit and educational institutions including the Salem-Keizer School Board, Chemeketa Community College Board of Education, State Fair Dismissal Appeals Board, Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, Oregon School Boards Association and the United Way. He is an active member of the Oregon State Bar and a Certified Public Accountant. His qualifications to serve on the Company’s Board of Directors include his financial and accounting experience.

Board Member, James Ellis

James L. Ellis

James Ellis has served as a director since July 1991. He retired from full-time duties with the Company in July 2009 and currently works part-time on selected projects. James previously served as the Company’s Director of Human Resources from 1993 to 2009. He also served as the Company’s Secretary from 1997 to 2009 and Vice President/Corporate from 1998 to 2009. From 1990 to 1992, he was a partner in Kenneth L. Fisher, Ph.D. & Associates, a management-consulting firm. From 1980 to 1990, James was Vice President and General Manager of R.A. Kevane & Associates, a Pacific Northwest personnel consulting firm. From 1962 to 1979, he was a member of and administrator for the Christian Brothers of California, owner of Mont La Salle Vineyards, and a producer of Christian Brothers wines and brandy. His qualifications to serve on the Company’s Board of Directors include his prior experience as a member of the Company’s senior management, as well as more than 40 years of business experience.

Board Member, Stan Turel

Stan G. Turel

Stan Turel has served as a director since November 1994 and was a founding stockholder of the company. Stan is the president of Columbia Pacific Tax Service in Bend, Oregon. Prior to his current endeavors, while in college Stan began buying rental properties with holdings in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. He also was the Principal and CEO of Columbia Turel, (formerly Columbia Bookkeeping, Inc.), from 1974 till 2001. Before selling the company to Fiducial, one of Europe's largest accounting firms, Columbia had 26,000 annual clients. Stan also successfully operated as majority owner of two cable TV companies during the 80s and 90s before selling them to several public corporations. Stan was a former delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business and held positions on several state and local government committees. He is a family man with four children, and he is a pilot, boater and author of Plague of Justice: a True Crime Story which is about a murder in Oregon.

Board Member, Sean Cary

Sean M. Cary

Sean Cary has served as a director since July 2007. He is the Corporate Controller of National Warranty Corporation, a Eugene, Oregon-based provider of finance and insurance products sold through automobile dealers located in the Pacific Northwest. Previously, Sean served as the CFO of Cascade Structural Laminators, a laminated beam manufacturer headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, and prior to that as Controller of Willamette Valley Vineyards. Sean served in the U.S. Air Force as a Financial Officer. Sean holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Sean's qualifications to serve on the Company’s Board of Directors include his financial and accounting expertise.

Board Member, Cara Pepper Day

Cara Pepper Day

Cara Pepper Day rose to an integral role at Willamette Valley Vineyards early in her career as a leader of the National Sales Team and is pleased to come full circle to return as a member of the Board of Directors in 2022.  She has spent the last 10-plus years in technology specific to beverage alcohol with GreatVines, Andavi Solutions and Crafted ERP by Doozy Solutions. Her qualifications include a breadth of sales, technology and beverage industry understanding and experience. This experience pairs well with her ability to build strong relationships and support teams to improve their methodologies leveraging technology to drive increased success. Cara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Linfield University in Mathematics. She was awarded the Willamette Valley Vineyards Bacchus Employee of the Year award in 2006. 

Board Member, Sarah Rose

Sarah Rose

Sarah has 14+ years of experience innovating and implementing marketing and event campaigns – most recently for the Compass Group at Microsoft. Responsible for the customer experience including storytelling, events, and communications, her team was responsible for the experience of 40,000+ Microsoft employees on the expansive Puget Sound campus. Sarah started her career at WVV as a marketing intern and worked in the tasting room during her time at Willamette University. After 7+ years with Compass Group at Microsoft, Sarah left to manage corporate campaigns for a technology start-up,, based in Seattle. Sarah is also on the board of ILEA (International Live Events Association), Seattle Chapter, as VP of Communications. Sarah’s qualifications to serve on the Company's Board of Directors include her marketing, storytelling, event and hospitality expertise. 

Board Member, Libby Spencer

Libby Spencer

Libby served as Willamette’s National Sales Coordinator from 2004-2005 and then returned to become Sales Operations Manager from 2008-2012, overseeing all sales channels, including the wine club, tasting room, in-state sales and a robust distributor network. By way of background, she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Lewis & Clark College, and started her wine career in 2002 at Cristom Vineyards. She later owned and operated a small wine bar in Massachusetts with her husband, Patrick. In 2012, she joined an innovative enology company, Enartis USA and went back to school to study winemaking. She is currently the Sales Manager for North America. Libby has a passion for Oregon Pinot noir and loves yoga, hiking, mountain biking, reading and most of all, eating.

Founded in 1983 by Oregon native Jim Bernau with the dream of creating world-class Pinot Noir,
Willamette Valley Vineyards has grown from a bold idea into one of the region’s leading wineries, earning the title “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” from Wine Enthusiast Magazine


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