Our Family

In 1889, Joaquin Martínez Bujanda began the family winemaking tradition in Oyón, a small town in Northern Spain. Since then, we have created some of the finest examples of Spanish wine at Bodegas Valdemar. Today, Jesús Martínez Bujanda and his sister, Ana Martínez Bujanda, represent the fifth generation to lead the family business. Together, they opened Valdemar Estates, the first internationally owned winery in Washington state. It is here where they will make their mark on the family legacy of innovation and pursue their passion for fine winemaking.

Our Winery In Spain

Bodegas Valdemar was the first winery in Spain to bottle White Tempranillo and create a barrel-fermented white. We were the first in Europe to use an automated system to control fermentation temperature. We spearheaded an effort to revive the nearly extinct Graciano grape in the 1980s, planting six clones in our Seis Alhajas (Six Jewels) vineyard. Our commitment to experimentation stems from our deeply held belief that there is always more beauty to be discovered.

Our Team

Valdemar Estates is led by Owner & CEO Jesús Martínez Bujanda, a fifth generation member of The Valdemar Family. Jesús also oversees operations for Bodegas Valdemar, the family winery in Rioja, Spain. His sister, Ana, is Director of Marketing for the brand, and their father, Jesús, acts in an advisory role while enjoying his retirement. Our team at Valdemar Estates includes a unique group of individuals who come to the property with experience in all different facets of the wine and hospitality industry.

Jesús Martínez-Bujanda

Owner & CEO

The fifth generation of a family of Rioja producers and wine growers, Jesús was born in 1988 in Oyón (Spain). There, he spent his childhood in continuous contact with the family winery and vineyards.

Both during his studies and during his professional career, he has always sought to live internationally. During his studies at the University of Navarra (International Degree in Management), he had the opportunity to make two international exchanges: one at the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Milan, Italy) and another at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA). During the time he spent in Seattle he fell in love of Washington state and knew he would move there.

He finished his studies in 2010 then worked as a Financial Auditor in PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he had the opportunity to work for clients in many sectors. In 2014, he took the mantle of his father as CEO of Valdemar Family. After years of looking for opportunities to grow Valdemar, he decided to build a new winery in Walla Walla and permanently moved to this amazing community to develop this project.

Marie-Eve Gilla

Winemaker

Born in Burgundy and raised near Paris, Marie-Eve Gilla fell in love with the pastoral lifestyle while working summers on the farm. She earned her Double Masters in Enology and Viticulture at the University of Dijon, gaining practical training in the wineries and vineyards of Burgundy.

Arriving in the United States in 1991, she worked at various wineries including Argyle, Covey Run, and Hogue. Intending to stay for just a few months, she realized the incredible potential of the Northwest wine industry. In 1999, she married her compatriot Gilles Nicault, now Director of Winemaking at Long Shadows. They moved to Walla Walla in 2001, where Marie-Eve became Forgeron Cellars’ founding winemaker. In 2018, she joined Valdemar Estates.

Believing firmly that great wines are made in the vineyard, Marie-Eve sources grapes from established vineyards in the Red Mountain and Walla Walla A.V.A to craft her wines. Working in a boutique winery allows her to focus on quality by keeping each vineyard lot separate. This gives each wine the ability to express its full potential. In the cellar, Marie-Eve primarily uses French oak, with moderate toast levels for both fermentation and aging. She has successfully adapted her Burgundian winemaking influences to the riper fruit found in Eastern Washington.

For example, while making Chardonnay, she periodically stirs the lees to increase mouth feel for a mineral, yet full-bodied and well-balanced, wine. She does not inoculate for malolactic fermentation, therefore she retains natural freshness and pure flavors. She also uses a minimal intervention approach to craft age-worthy reds of great complexity that showcase the beautiful fruit flavors of Washington state.

Accolades & Highlights:
  • In January 2016, the French government bestowed upon her the title of Chevalier (Knight) and membership in the l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (Order of Agricultural Merit). The Order of Agricultural Merit rewards people who rendered exceptional services to agriculture.
  • She is a member of the prestigious Seattle Chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier since 2015. L.D.E. is a by-invitation philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality.
  • Her 2014 Chardonnay was declared "Best White Wine of the Year" at the 2017 Seattle Wine Awards.
  • She earned the "Rising Star” award at the Top Annual Women Winemakers awards in San Francisco in 2000.
  • She gained international recognition at blind tastings held in both San Francisco and Miami with her 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

Devyani Isabel Gupta

Assistant Winemaker

Devyani grew up in Portland, Oregon, with two parents who were fantastic cooks and avid wine appreciators. Her interest in wine began at the dinner table, when her father would share wines from around the world and challenge her to identify the characteristics found in the glass.

Devyani moved to Walla Walla to attend Whitman College and discovered her calling for wine while working for Amavi Cellars. After graduating with honors and degrees in psychology and Spanish, she moved to Seattle to become a research project coordinator for the UW READi Lab, where she studied childhood autism. Although Devyani was conducting meaningful research, she realized that wine had become her true passion, and she knew the cellar was her home.

In 2016, Devyani eagerly moved back to Walla Walla and enrolled in the local Enology & Viticulture program. As a student, she worked for L’Ecole no. 41, Seven Hills Vineyard, and Figgins Family Wine Estates to immerse herself in all aspects of the wine industry. Upon completing her degree, she became the Viticulture Technician for North Slope Management and Harvest Enologist for FIGGINS.

Devyani loves the warmth of the Walla Walla community, and has found her home here. As our Assistant Winemaker, Devyani oversees cellar operations and lab analyses. When not in the cellar, you can find her barbecuing for friends, hiking, kayaking, and walking vineyards.

Kaleigh Brook Vrapi

General Manager

Kaleigh grew up in Montana before moving to Rome, where she first developed her passion for wine, cutting her teeth on the beautiful wines of Central Italy. Pursuing her oenology career, she moved to Chicago to work at The Capital Grille under Master Sommelier George Miliotis. Here, she also had the opportunity to study under Michael Muser, Wine Director at the Chicago Peninsula Hotel, earning her sommelier certification through the International Sommelier Guild in 2009.

In 2010, Kaleigh and her husband returned to Montana to open their own restaurant, When In Rome …, where she served as the Managing Wine Director for seven years. Over their seven-year trajectory as restaurateurs, their establishment earned accolades in the New York Times, Food & Wine, and Sunset Magazine. In 2011, Kaleigh became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

In 2016, Kaleigh and her husband sold the business and left Montana to travel around the world with their three young children. Over the two years spent in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Kaleigh studied and experienced the great wine regions of the world, tasting through wines in some of the most unique and highly regarded cellars in the world.

Returning from their global travels, Kaleigh and her family relocated to Eastern Washington in 2018, where she accepted a production job at Long Shadows Vintners, making the Walla Walla Valley her family’s home. Kaleigh runs the tasting room, curates events, and manages staff at Valdemar Estates. Forever a passionate student of wine, Kaleigh is currently pursuing both her Master Sommelier and Master of Wine certifications.