Blue Grouse believes in the team, not the individual. Each team member brings a unique combination of personality, skills and qualifications, which together will make us successful. Bailey, our winemaker, oversees the vines and massages the best out of our grapes to produce extraordinary wine. Jenny, our office manager, keeps the backroom humming, bills paid and customers well attended. Our tasting room team share their knowledge of our wines and the Cowichan Valley with all comers. Our vineyard manager, Paul Biffin, tend the vines and make everything we do possible. To orchestrate it all, the Brunners bring their passionate commitment to quality. Without this team, we would be any other winery!
What do they know about wine?
Not much, really! The Brunners are wine lovers, not yet wine makers, but that’s all about to change, with a passionate team of wine experts to lead the way.
Paul and Cristina Brunner grew up in big families with international roots. Paul is a mining engineer and Cristina is an artist. Their only daughter, Paula, is an aspiring opera student. The family has lived in Canada, Chile, Peru, South Africa, and the United States, and along the way Paul spent an inordinate amount of time in Australia.
The family’s interest in wines and vines stems from Paul’s need to repent for his sins (after a life in mining he’s going green), Cristina’s passion for endless landscapes (to paint and inspire), and Paula’s desire to practice arias unimpeded by the neighbors. Combine this with the desire to be closer to family, years of collecting and drinking New World wines, and the Brunners ended up with the Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard on Vancouver Island.
How many wineries, Canadian or otherwise, can claim that their winemaker met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth? We’re pretty sure we’re in an elite club. Bailey Williamson, Blue Grouse Estate Winemaker, grew up in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. At university, Bailey wrote a food column for the school newspaper suggesting simple recipes for broke college students, and afterward, spent a good chunk of his life pursuing work in the culinary arts. In 1993 he relocated to Victoria and became involved in the “farm to table” movement.
Working his way from the bottom up at several wineries, Bailey managed to learn enough about wine making to impress his wife Jenny, who was working in the wine industry in the State of Washington when they met. Bailey spent five years as Assistant Winemaker at Road 13 Vineyards before accepting the call of the Grouse to serve as Winemaker and Vineyard Manager for Blue Grouse. Bailey, his wife, and their family have settled in the Cowichan Valley where he tends vine and tank while pining for Her Majesty’s next visit.
Jenny serves as the Office Manager for Blue Grouse – which means, of course, that she’s the glue that holds the team together! Jenny grew up in Wenatchee, in Central Washington, and took off to the big City of Seattle to attend culinary school. Quickly becoming Seattle’s corporate poster child, Jenny worked at Amazon in its infancy, (packing boxes next to Jeff Bezos), as well as Starbucks and Microsoft.
When the grunge rock scene died down Jenny headed back to Wenatchee and worked as General Manager for St. Laurent. It was a blind date orchestrated by her employer that eventually landed Jenny in the immigration system and moved her to Canada to marry none other than Bailey Williamson, future Blue Grouse Winemaker.
Today Jenny looks after their children, Porter and Gabi, as well as their garden, and keeps the Blue Grouse office running smoothly. So far she hasn’t bumped in to any retired rock stars at the winery, but we’re sure it’s only a matter of time.