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Willamette Valley Vineyards
March 24, 2022 | Willamette Valley Vineyards

Celebrating Women In Wine

In honor of National Women In Wine Day, we'd like to introduce you to three women who have been instrumental in building Domaine Willamette, home of our méthode traditionelle sparkling winery that opens later this year at Bernau Estate Vineyard in the Dundee Hills.

Crystal Ashley

Willamette Valley Vineyards: You’ve been successful at moving up in the company. How did it happen?

Crystal Ashely: First, I am very fortunate to have an amazing mother. She has provided me with opportunity, support, tough love and a realistic outlook for success.

Coming from a background in athletics, I have enjoyed being rewarded for my performance within the company. It has been ingrained in me to do my absolute best and good things will happen. Willamette Valley Vineyards provided me with an environment to be successful.

Crystal Ashley started her career at Willamette in 2015 as a Winery Ambassador and she grew in the role until she became Winery Ambassador Manager. Crystal didn’t stop there, however. She was recently named General Manager of Domaine Willamette.

WVV: What are you looking forward to in your new position as General Manager of Domaine Willamette?

CA: It’s a dream come true. Domaine Willamette is going to be breathtaking, and I feel grateful that I get to see all the final stages and touches on the property. Getting ready to open a new winery comes with the help of so many amazing people, a vision and a lot of checklists ­— and I mean a lot of checklists!

Domaine Willamette will offer visitors unforgettable bubble experiences, beautiful wine, aspects of Biodynamics and so much opportunity and success for employees. Wine brings out the best in people and I get to be a part of it.

WVV: What can the wine industry do to build a more diverse, inclusive and successful industry?

CA: I think exposure and knowledge are very powerful. We need to keep spreading the word about the opportunities available. In my experience, the wine industry is very welcoming, but women may not know of the opportunities within the industry.

WVV: What advice do you have for women starting out in the wine industry?

CA: Believe in yourself! You are valuable and your ideas and opinions are valuable. Make sure you share them. Don't let opportunities pass you by. At Willamette, no idea goes unheard and that is the way it should be.

Jan Green Bernau

Jan Green Bernau first started working at Willamette as a consultant in 2008, helping to launch staff training and development tools. She eventually took the reins of our human resources department and has served in various positions since then. She is currently the Project and Staff Development Manager, overseeing construction at Domaine Willamette.

Willamette Valley Vineyards: Tell us about what it’s been like to build out our new winery.

Jan Bernau: It's a huge project and the most challenging of my career. It’s also been exciting to learn about Biodynamic farming, a primary focus at Domaine Willamette.

Covid-19 caused a lot of stress in the construction world, supply chain and work crew availability. Costs have gone up, scheduling takes longer and, in some cases, we've had to pivot to different finishes and materials to keep things on schedule.

WVV: Who are some leading women in your life and how have they influenced you and your career choices?

JB: My mother was one of the original "women's libbers" who fought for women's rights, walking door to door to encourage women to register to vote and making sure we volunteered in our community to make things better for women and children. And Robin Jaqua, a Jungian depth psychologist changed my life and inspired me to study Jungian Depth Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland.

WVV: What kinds of things do you think the wine industry can do to build a more diverse, inclusive and successful industry?

JB: Support legislation allowing more people to migrate here legally and safely. Encourage young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) studies, agriculture and the wine industry.

WVV: What advice do you have for women starting out in the wine industry?

JB: Don't feel like you must do things like your male counterparts. It's OK to use your own wisdom, intuition, empathy and people skills to make a difference. 

Arial view of Domaine Willamette under construction.

Shawn Bradshaw

Willamette Valley Vineyards: Talk to us about Domaine Willamette. What are some of the challenges and what are you looking forward to when it opens later this year?

Shawn Bradshaw: I have a project management background and Domaine Willamette is one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on. There are millions of moving parts and people to keep track of, which can be challenging, but we keep it moving along. Our success comes from the amount of progress made every single week.

Shawn Bradshaw started her career at Willamette in May 2021 as a project coordinator working on the Domaine Willamette build. She is new to the wine industry and says it’s been exciting and eye-opening to learn about the complexities of winemaking.

I’m most looking forward to our guests having options when they visit Domaine Willamette. They can stop in at the wine shop to have a quick taste, buy some wine and be on their way. Or they can continue up through the vineyards and have a seated tasting and a bite to eat while enjoying the beautiful views of the Willamette Valley. In the garden there is a massive pond and many pathways for guests to roam and enjoy their wine.

WVV: What has your experience been as a woman new to the wine industry?

SB: I have felt empowered to make critical decisions for Willamette. I see ways that the wine industry can create more spaces where everyone feels welcome to have a seat at the table.

At Willamette, our wine is not made for one type of person. That’s why we are focusing on creating an environment at Domaine Willamette where anyone can experience and enjoy our wine.

WVV: Do you have any advice for women starting careers in the wine world?

SB: Always know there is more to learn and so many opportunities to follow your passion. It’s important to stay curious and always be looking for new areas of professional growth. 

Artists rendering of Domaine Willamette, set to open late Summer 2022.


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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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