WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Haydn Mouat, a winemaker from New Zealand who is well-acquainted with the Walla Walla Valley, has been hired by Precept Wine as head winemaker at Canoe Ridge Vineyard.
Precept CEO Andrew Browne named Mouat as his replacement for Bill Murray at the downtown Walla Walla winery with a historic 160-acre planting in the Horse Heaven Hills.
“We are thrilled to welcome Haydn back to our winemaking team, this time leading Canoe Ridge Vineyard through its next period of growth,” Browne said in a news release. “Haydn has a global breadth of winemaking experience, great business and leadership skills, and boundless optimism. We are fortunate to have him.”
Mouat graduated in 2000 with a winemaking degree from Lincoln University in New Zealand then spent time at Hawthorne Mountain Winery (now See Ya Later Ranch) in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and Hartford Family Winery in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
In 2002, Casey McClellan recruited Mouat to serve as cellarmaster at famed Seven Hills Winery in the Walla Walla Valley. He became associate winemaker and spent nearly a decade working for the McClellan family before Precept and John Freeman hired him as assistant winemaker for Waterbrook Winery.
Mouat left Waterbrook in 2014 and worked three harvests in California’s Central Valley for Gallo Wine Co., where his duties included Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and rosé. In 2014 and 2015, his responsibilities included production of 100,000 tons of Chardonnay, which included work for the Barefoot brand. In 2015, the entire Washington wine industry crushed 42,000 tons of Chardonnay.
A year ago, Mouat returned to southeast Washington as manager of Walla Walla Wine Services, a new custom-crush operation. At Canoe Ridge Vineyard, he’ll be responsible of a winery that was closing in on 100,000 cases in 2014.
Murray takes on Barons Winery position
News of Mouat’s hiring was announced March 15, exactly one month after Murray joined Barons Winery in Walla Walla.
Murray recently moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, and was looking to slow down after spending seven years at Canoe Ridge Vineyard while also overseeing Precept’s winemaking in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. The Napa Valley native will use the custom-crush facility at Artifex in Walla Walla to craft the Barons wines.
“Bill brings incredible experience, knowledge, and his reputation for excellence to the Barons team,” Barons managing partner Jim Keller said. “He understands our history, our roots, and what we aspire to achieve.”