Will Wiles, Ackley Brands

Seattle-based Ackley Brands has hired Will Wiles as director of winemaking. Wiles started at the company June 17th.

“Will Wiles is the total package,” says Cyndi Buehler, general manager of wine at Ackley Brands. “He has high-end, small lot winemaking ability and also large scale winemaking experience. He’s very well versed in vineyards and varietals in Washington, and I know his adaptability will make him a very quick study in Oregon. It is a complete win for Ackley Brands.”

At Ackley, Wiles will be in charge of overseeing a winemaking team that now includes Louis Skinner at Betz Family, which Ackley acquired in May; Kristin Scheelar at Columbia Winery; Rosalba Casciano at Hogue (Hogue and Columbia were both acquired in April); and Stephen Webber at Montinore in Willamette Valley. Wiles will also interface with Ackley’s viticulture team, headed by Clay Wesson in Oregon.

“It’s a dream come true,” Wiles says. “We have brands that have national presence and high-end boutique brands as well. I get to play in Oregon and play in Washington. It’s pretty exciting.”

Wiles was born in Longview, Washington and grew up in the Tri-Cities area. He received a bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Washington State University.

After graduating, Wiles spent over 13 years at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE), Washington’s largest producer. He started out as a technician at the company in 2010 and subsequently became an enologist at Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2012. Wiles then spent over seven years as assistant winemaker at Col Solare. (SMWE sold Col Solare to Antinori earlier this month.)

After a year as innovation winemaker at SMWE, Wiles became head winemaker at SMWE’s Columbia Crest Winery in 2021. He was subsequently promoted to senior director of winemaking. In late 2023, Wiles left SMWE and joined TN Coopers as an oak consultant.

Wiles has already hit the ground running at Ackley, with the winery looking to move wine from tank to bottle at Hogue and Columbia. Wiles has also worked with the winemaking team on blending and started meeting with growers.

“I’m diving head first into the details and just trying to soak it all in,” Wiles says. “I like to learn and listen, so there’s a lot of absorbing right now.”

Brandon Ackley, president of Ackley Brands, says the director of winemaking position attracted considerable attention.

“There was a lot of interest, but we were trying to find the needle in the haystack that folds in perfectly with us,” Ackley says. “Will has the ‘it’ factor. He’s going to shoot straight. He’s going to listen.”

Ackley has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. As the company has acquired and created brands, the staff has grown commensurately.

Cyndi Buehler joined the team as general manager of wine at the beginning of 2023 after nearly seven years at Erath Winery, a SMWE winery in Oregon. Executive vice president Erik Baserman rounded out the executive team in May of 2023, bringing diverse business development and executive experience.

As Ackley expands, the company will continue to hire at a variety of positions. Wiles marks a major hire.

“We’re excited,” Ackley says. “We’re here for the long-term.”

Image courtesy of Ackley Brands

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