Sara Gagnon: Co-Owner & Winemaker
Sara Gagnon's Port Angeles roots run deep. Her current home sits on a portion of the orchard land homesteaded by her great-grandparents at the turn of the last century. Sara began making wine at the "ripe" old age of 20; her first creation being a blackberry wine made from fruit picked fresh off Gagnon land.
In 2000, Gagnon accepted an apprenticeship under Dan Caudill, the former owner and winemaker at Olympic Cellars in Port Angeles. Caudill put his 28-year-old apprentice on the fast track, teaching her the ins and outs of running a commercial operation. Six months later, Caudill's health forced him into early retirement and Gagnon became one of Washington state's youngest head winemakers.
Then in the summer of 2004, life threw Gagnon a curve. She was involved in a serious small plane crash along with Tammi Hinkle, a friend and fellow kayaker. The two survived, albeit with a new outlook on life.
While putting her life back together, Gagnon determined it was time for her to take the reins and actively pursue her dream of opening a winery where she could create her own style of wines. She approached Hinkle, a professional guide and owner of Adventures Through Kayaking, with the opportunity to partner in the new venture and Hinkle was more than happy to invest. On August 3, 2005 (exactly one year after the accident) the two opened Port Angeles' newest winery, aptly named Harbinger, to signify good things to come.
Tammi Hinkle: Co-owner & Operations/Marketing
Originally from Minnesota, Tammi came out to the Olympic Peninsula many summers ago when she worked at the Lake Crescent Lodge during her college break. The alluring Lake Crescent cast its spell on her and Tammi found herself returning to this area year after year to work the busy summer season and enjoy the outdoors. She found a special place in her heart for kayaking (it could be that she is from the land of 10,000 lakes…or that she's a Pisces…just a theory…).
Tammi guided professionally on the rivers, lakes, and open waters for 10 years before deciding to open her own guide service, Adventures Through Kayaking
. She is now celebrating her 20th year in business, watching the guide service and specialty retail shop grow with each passing season. Somewhere along the river of life, the exact time remains a mystery; Tammi discovered the equally fascinating world of wine. Soon kayak and mountain biking adventures were being integrated with winery stops. In 2005, when approached with the opportunity to become a co-owner of a fledgling winery just down the street, she was more than happy to invest in the endeavor. Though the Kayak shop is a full time job, Tammi helps on many different levels at Harbinger Winery, from pouring wine and crushing grapes, to marketing the wares.
Kelley Romero: Tasting Room Manager & Operations Ninja
Kelley Romero was born and raised in Port Angeles. Her family homesteaded here five generations ago and she has stayed close to home to raise her son Colton alongside her husband Cody Romero. As a family they enjoy living in the northwest with all of its natural beauty and spend time outdoors playing baseball, going on hikes and enjoying the water. Having worked in the food and beverage field for most of her life Kelley acquired a passion for wine in her early 20s, falling in love with the mysterious yet expressive nature of a great wine. As Benjamin Franklin once said "Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” Kelley believes that by tasting, serving and educating people about wine she gets to share this mantra with others. So visit her in the tasting room and take a little tension and hurry out of the daily grind over a glass of wine.
Pete Mehl: Tasting Room & Wholesale Special Forces
Pete is an Oregon Native who grew up surrounded by fields of strawberries, rye grass and Oregon Pinot Noir. His early memories of family vacations center on traveling throughout Oregon and California in the family station wagon, visiting state and national parks and stopping at every winery along the way. Destined to work in the wine industry from a young age, his first (drinkable) batch of wine was made from wild elderberries when he was 16. After a 22-year career flying anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft for the US Navy, he settled in Port Angeles with his wife Bonnie to be surrounded by gorgeous mountains, water and world class wines. Pete’s passions include backpacking, cooking, woodworking, and enjoying a good glass of wine.
Alyssa Wetzler: Tasting Room Specialist & Winery Utility Player
Alyssa, also known as "Grasshopper", was raised in Port Angeles and spent her formative years playing sports as well as the violin (#well-rounded). She cut her teeth early in the working world by learning the coffee trade and being employed as a barista since high school. Alyssa found enjoyment in meeting people and serving up libations to the eclectic local community as well as the plethora of tourists that find their way onto the Olympic Peninsula. It wasn't a huge leap to the wine industry where she started off learning the diverse environments of the tasting room and cellar. Whether it's describing subtle wine nuances or helping during the grape harvest or moving pallets of wine, Alyssa has fully immersed herself in her new career. When she isn't playing with grapes you can find her coaching or playing volleyball or softball, snowboarding, reading a mystery novel or spending time with her amazing family. Did I mention she is well-rounded??
Kristin Ulsund: Tasting Room & Celebration Specialist
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Kristin has honed the art of simply living the good life. While away at college (Theatre/English-Creative Writing) she discovered the restaurant business goes with college life like peanut butter and chocolate. It also easily translates to a skill that neatly packs up and travels to wherever the road of life may lead. Working from Santa Barbara (where her love for wine really blossomed) to the San Juan Islands and a few stops in between gave Kristin a variety of opportunities to wear the many hats required in the food and service industry. When not serving wine and heckling folks at Harbinger Winery she loves to spend time cooking, gardening, or just hanging out in a ray of sunshine with a good book and her beloved cats Jasper and Oliver.
Steph Mallon: Lead Artist & Designer
Stephanie Mallon came to the Olympic Peninsula in 2001. While working at Olympic Cellars, Stephanie met Sara and the two soon realized that the combination of their passions and skill sets would someday develop into some very cool endeavors (read: they loved to drink wine together!). Stephanie designed both the Harbinger logo and is the creator of Dynamo, the little sprite seen around the winery from time to time. She also created the artwork for several of the Harbinger labels in addition to helping to select the art that is used from outside artists.
Stephanie’s other projects include creating the Working Girl series for Olympic Cellars and developing her own line of greeting cards through Watermallon Studios, her design company. In her spare time she is the Assistant Creative Director for a leading dinnerware manufacturer based out of Los Angeles.