Guest Winemakers

2017 Panelists

Walla Walla Valley Winemakers

Corey Braunel | Dusted Valley

Corey Braunel

Corey Braunel represents the fourth generation of his family in agriculture. Ginseng was the main crop of his family’s Northern Wisconsin farm. Corey grew up watching his father host Chinese buyers who evaluated this premium niche market crop destined for the medicine shops of Hong Kong. Corey has a business degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and began his career working in the financial services industry. Later, he switched to sales and marketing work with Fortune 50 medical firms where he learned about wine while entertaining clients – making selections from wine lists and educating himself through winery tourism with his good buddy and brother-in-law Chad. He then learned about Washington wine, fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and moved his family to Walla Walla in 2003 to start the winery. Rejoicing, he resigned from medical sales in June of 2008.

“Being part of Dusted Valley allows me to return to my entrepreneurial farming roots. I grew up with my hands in the dirt and feel a connection to who I am when bringing our vineyards to the bottle.” “My Mother and Father laugh when they hear me say, ‘hands in the dirt…’ I hated weeding in the ginseng gardens and used to cry, ‘I wasn’t born to weed!’”

Corey and his wife, Cindy, have three children, Chase, Sam and Noah.

Nina Buty | Buty Winery

Nina Buty

Since founding Buty Winery in 2000, Nina Buty has helped to define the vision for the winery’s acclaimed blends, the philosophy that guides their creation, and the aesthetic sensibility that informs every aspect of Buty. In addition to the big picture elements that have shaped the success of Buty, Nina has been responsible for establishing Buty’s sales program, opening its Walla Walla tasting room, and building the Buty mailing list and Friends of the Beast Wine Club. Today, Nina oversees every aspect of the winery, working side-by-side with a handpicked team that includes acclaimed winemaker Chris Dowsett and legendary consulting winemaker Zelma Long. Working with this talented team, Nina has established Buty at the forefront of several winemaking movements—from Buty’s commitment to using little-or-no new oak in many of its wines to picking earlier to retain aromatics and acidity, and finally the winery’s dedication to a natural approach to winemaking that eschews the use of any additions or “enhancement tools.” Nina has also established Buty’s own renowned Rockgarden Estate in The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater appellation. Made using grapes from Rockgarden, as well as fruit from other celebrated vineyards like Phinny Hill and Conner Lee, Buty’s wines have earned acclaim for their blending artistry, and are recognized as benchmarks for quality and creativity.

Steve Brooks | Trust Cellars

Steve Brooks

Steve was never supposed to be a winemaker. He was never supposed to be a journalist either, but that’s a whole different story.  After a long career of making people generally unhappy, he felt a need for a new challenge. And a need to be happy.

In 2001, he left behind microphones and videotape and traffic and noise for Walla Walla.

His steep learning curve took place in the classroom and in many Walla Walla wineries, where he both learned what to do and what he didn’t want to do. A lucky break led him to work with former Chateau Latour winemaker Christian LeSommer on a local project. He realized then that he would never learn everything. But then again, neither would anyone else.

In 2005 Steve started Trust Cellars. His goal is to make expressive wines and have fun. And not to take any of this too seriously.



Gary Mills | Jamsheed | Yarra Valley, Australia

Gary Mills

Ancient writings tell an endearing tale of Jamsheed, a Persian king who was said to be able to see his kingdom in a cup of wine, and whose fondness for fresh grapes lead him to store them in jars over winter where they would inevitably spontaneously ferment and be set aside as ‘poison.' One of King Jamsheed’s harem, despairing of frequent migraines, chooses to commit suicide by drinking from a poisoned jar. She wakes to find herself miraculously cured, informs her king, who is most pleased and sets about making many jars of 'poison' and thus wine was discovered.

Originally born in Western Australia, Gary completed a Bachelor of Literature, before moving to Japan to study and work as an English teacher. Upon returning to Australia he had an epiphany during a brief stint as a Japanese speaking tour guide in Queensland, and began work in the vineyards of Margaret River. A five week vintage posting atRidge Vineyards California turned into a 2 year full time position under the tutelage of winemaker Paul Draper and from there Gary has worked in Oregon and various regions within Australia.

The Jamsheed label began in 2003 with a focus on single vineyard Syrahs and aromatic whites from unique sites in Victoria. Jamsheed Wines is proud to announce that it has won the inaugural 2012 Victorian Awards Winery of the Year as voted by the Sommeliers Australia Association.

Helen Keplinger | Keplinger Wines | Napa Valley, California

Helen Keplinger

Helen started Keplinger Wines in 2006 after spending three years making wine in the Priorat region of Spain. Helen is one of few American winemakers who have worked extensively in Europe before making Napa Valley her home and joining forces with her husband, DJ Warner, to launch Keplinger Wines. She has been the winemaker for Bryant Family Vineyard, Arrow & Branch and Kenzo Estate. Currently, she is the winemaker for Grace Family Vineyard, Carte Blanche, Kerr Cellars, and Waterfall Cellars as well as the Consulting Enologist for Force Majeure Vineyard. Named “Winemaker of the Year” in 2012 by Food & Wine magazine and the cover story of the June 2014 Wine Spectator, Helen is recognized for making terroir-driven, single-vineyard wines of exceptional quality from Rhone varietals. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Smith College and a Master of Science Degree in Enology from the University of California, Davis.

Byron Kosuge | Kingston Family Vineyards | Casablanca Valley, Chile

Byron Kosuge

Byron Kosuge

Byron Kosuge is a native Californian, and studied English Literature as well as Viticulture and Enology and UC Davis. He was born and raised in the Central Valley of California, the son of a UC Davis professor. He began his winemaking career in 1985 with Carneros Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist Saintsbury. After 15 years at Saintsbury, he departed in 2001 to pursue other projects, including his own label B. Kosuge Wines; Miura Vineyards, a brand owned by one time college roommate Emmanuel Kemiji M.S.; McIntyre Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County; Small Vines Wines, in the Sonoma Coast, Alder Springs Vineyard and Kingston Family Vineyards in Casablanca Chile. At Kingston, he has spent 15 harvests working with cool climate, own rooted Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah. He has also served as consultant to several Napa, Sonoma and Monterey based wineries.