Women in wine: Meet the women of Del Rio Vineyards. Photo collage of women who work at Del Rio Vineyards

Women in Wine: Meet the women of Del Rio Vineyards

The wine industry traditionally has been a male dominated field, but that is beginning to change. The Women in Wine campaign was originally started as a social initiative by Renae Perry and Yolanda Papapietro, co-owners and co-founders of Papapietro Perry Winery in California as an expression of gratitude to the women shaping the wine industry. Following in their footsteps, we invite you to take a moment to meet the women of Del Rio Vineyard Estate.

Jolee Wallace
Jolee Wallace: Owner of Del Rio Vineyards
A dedicated leader with a passion for agriculture and a commitment to education and community service, Jolee started Del Rio Vineyards in 2000. Growing up in a small farming community in Northern California instilled in her a love for the land and a strong work ethic.

Over the years, Jolee has continued to expand Del Rio Vineyard Estate and now grows 460 acres and thirteen grape varieties at Del Rio and Birdseye vineyards. Del Rio is the largest single vineyard in Southern Oregon and is one of the top wine producers in the state.
Although no longer in production, Jolee’s favorite Del Rio wine is the 2008 Estate Reserve Petite Syrah.

Mikayla Pope
Mikayla Pope: Western Sales Manager
Having joined Del Rio’s team in 2021, Mikayla has worked in the wine industry since 2015. In addition to her years of experience, Mikayla developed her appreciation for the wine industry from a very early age. 

“I grew up on a ranch in Yamhill County, Oregon, and by the time I was eleven the hills surrounding me were covered in vineyards,” said Mikayla. “Watching the assistant winemaker in the cellar at a local winery when I was young inspired me to learn more.” The rest is history!

Mikayla’s favorite Del Rio wine is the 2019 Merlot. 

Courtney Thomas
Courtney Thomas: Tasting Room & Events Manager
After having three children, Courtney joined Del Rio’s family in 2012 to create a purpose for herself that was outside of her home. At the time, having three children under the age of 3 years old was enough for her to need a glass of wine or two…
Over the years, Courtney’s role has evolved, and she now oversees all the tasting room operations and logistics, along with all special events including the summer concert series, wine club pick up parties, and vineyard dinners.
“I get to show up to work every day with the most wonderful and powerful women. I believe we can change the world one glass at a time,” said Courtney. Pink and rosy, just like Courtney’s personality, her favorite Del Rio wine is the Grenache Rosé.

Lindsey Zagar
Lindsey Zagar: Director of Operations
With nearly two decades of experience in the wine industry, Lindsey wears lots of hats at Del Rio Vineyards. If there’s a job to do at Del Rio Vineyards, chances are that Lindsey has done it!
When asked what inspired her to work in the wine industry, Lindsey said it was less about the wine that brought her to work at Del Rio, and more about the people who worked there.
After nearly 20 years of working at Del Rio, Lindsey finds it challenging to narrow down her favorite wine to just one. But when pressed, she says her favorites are the Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon because it reminds her of her early days of starting in the tasting room.

Elizabeth Cermak
Elizabeth Cermak: Tasting Room & Events Assistant
Elizabeth recently joined the Del Rio team in June 2022 as a member of the Tasting Room team. Her parents have been wine club members at Del Rio for years and when the opportunity to work in the tasting room came up, she just couldn't pass up the chance to apply!
As soon as she started, she immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and sense of community that’s shared around wine. Now nine months later, she’s fully invested in her position, assisting with event coordination, and taking on new roles and responsibilities.
Elizabeth’s favorite wine is Jolee Pinot Gris. 

Darelle Ploof
Darelle Ploof: Eastern Sales Manager
Darelle joined the Del Rio team in May 2022 after spending seven years as the Eastern Sales Manager for a winery in the Willamette Valley. Prior to working in Oregon wine country, she spent 16 years in Hospitality Management on the East Coast.

“Working in the wine industry still keeps me immersed in food & beverage, and allows me to continue building meaningful relationships, but it also challenges me,” said Darelle. “Wine is a great catalyst for bringing people together and I love that.”

“After meeting the Del Rio team, it was apparent how much they valued and cared for each other and I knew I had found a home here.” Darelle’s favorite Del Rio wine is the Grenache Rosé.

Jenny Richmond
Jenny Richmond: Wine Club & Compliance Manager
Jenny joined Del Rio Vineyards in 2018, and has enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow with Del Rio, as she’s taken on additional roles and responsibilities over the years. In her current role, Jenny oversees Del Rio’s OLCC and Federal compliance, as well as manages the Wine Club.
For Jenny, working for a company that has strong work ethics and treats its employees well was more important to her than working in a specific field. “Del Rio’s owners, Rob and Jolee Wallace, are kind and compassionate people and employers,” said Jenny. “Since I  enjoy wine, working in the wine industry is a nice perk to the job!”
Over her time at Del Rio, Jenny’s favorite wine has consistently been the Malbec.

Sarah Mellema
Sarah Mellema: Direct to Consumer Shipping Manager 
Sarah was recruited to Del Rio’s Tasting Room team by Courtney in 2015. Initially starting 
as a part-time employee with about one to three shifts per month, Sarah now oversees the important role of Direct to Consumer shipping. When a customer orders wine online to be shipped, Sarah is responsible for ensuring that the wines arrive in excellent condition.

Just like Lindsey, Courtney and Jenny, Sarah’s job has evolved over the years as she’s taken on additional roles and responsibilities. “I started as a very part-time employee, but now you can’t get rid of me!” said Sarah. Her favorite Del Rio wine is Syrah - especially the 2021 vintage.

Lena Freeman
Lena Freeman: Marketing Assistant
Lena started at Del Rio Vineyards in June 2022. Although new to the wine industry, Lena brings her experience as a graphic designer and marketing professional to Del Rio’s team.
Lena developed her appreciation for wine after working as a nanny in Burgundy, France. When the opportunity to work at Del Rio arose, Lena knew she had to apply! Del Rio offered her the perfect position that blends her skills in marketing with her love of Southern Oregon and high quality wines.
Lena’s favorite Del Rio wine is the 2021 Pinot Noir Pommard Clone. This was the first U.S. grown and produced wine that she had that made her think she was sipping on a wine from Burgundy. Santé!