Who We Are
Michael Towers -
Partner / Board Member
Michael is a retired key executive and officer of Washington Mutual. For the last decade, Michael has been a shareholder and director of Duckhorn Wine Company in the Napa Valley. Michael is a prominent participant in the management of Ambassador . He brings an unparalleled scope of experience and practical perspective and knowledge to the Company. He is also actively engaged in several local charities including Junior Achievement of Washington and the Auction of Washington Wines. Michael became involved in the Company in 2007 with his primary function being vineyard oversight and wine production. He and his wife, Pamala, split their time between wine country in both Washington State and the Napa Valley and spend as much time as possible skiing in Sun Valley Idaho.
Mike Amato -
Partner / Chairman and Board Member
Mike has over 30 years of experience in finance, Including Washington Mutual Bank, where he helped to integrate over 25 acquisitions throughout the U.S. He worked his way up the organization from investment adviser to Co-President of the Retail Bank. He left Washington Mutual to become the Global Head of Product and Distribution for Barclays PLC in London. He has recently returned to the Seattle area and has been developing the marketing and branding strategy for Ambassador. He spends his free time travelling the world with his fiancee, Rumi.
Jeff Smyth -
Partner / Board Member
Jeff co-founded Red Mountain Viticulture, LLC, the parent company of Ambassador Wines of Washington, in September 2005 and currently serves as Chairman. Prior to starting the Company and currently, Jeff is a member in good standing of the Washington State Bar Association. He has practiced commercial law for over three decades in Seattle. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Western Washington University Foundation and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He counts among his clientele several vineyard and winery clients, in both Washington and California’s Napa Valley and Paso Robles. When not practicing law, Jeff enjoys spending as much time as he can at the vineyard and of course, drinking wine!
Allison Engman -
Partner / Chief Operating Officer and Board Member
Allison is a former officer of Washington Mutual Bank, where she oversaw retail sales campaigns and the branch management training program for the Western Washington market. After leaving the bank in 2006 she worked in the Event Planning industry assisting with events such as the Washington Wines Festival and the Evening of Hope Gala. She joined Ambassador in 2011. Allison manages all facets of the business including sales, distribution, marketing, events and compliance. When she is not thinking about the wine business she spends her time with her husband, Nathan and her two young children. Her hobbies include skiing, reading and co-chairing her children's annual PTA auction.
Dick Boushey -
Dick Boushey and his wife Luanne own Boushey Vineyards, currently they grow wine grapes, cherries, apples and juice grapes in the Grandview area and manage vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA. Boushey Vineyards sells wine grapes to 30 different wineries in the state and grow many different varieties of red and white grapes. Dick has been involved with a number of wine and grape industry organizations. He currently serves on the Washington Wine Commission board, the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers board, the Wine Advisory Committee which oversees grape and wine research programs in the state, the Wine Yakima Valley board, the National Grape/Welch's board and numerous other wine oriented organizations.
Dick has been the recipient of several distinguished industry awards; the "Walter Clore Award" from the Washington State Grape Society; "Grower of the Year" Eric Hanson memorial award from the Washington Assoc. of Wine Grape Growers; "Honorary Grower Chair" for Children's Hospital Auction of Washington Wines; "Industry Service Award" from the wine grape growers and the "2007 Grower of the Year" Wine & Spirits Magazine. Dick Boushey has grown wine grapes in the Yakima Valley for over 32 years.
Sarah Goedhart -
Sarah was born in Buenos Aires and spent her early years travelling the globe with her family. In 1986 her parents settled in Seattle to start Hedges Cellars. A vineyard was planted in 1990 in Eastern Washington, Red Mountain area. In the summer Sarah along with her brother Christophe, worked in the vineyard and in later years at the new winery built on that same location. Sarah’s love for the industry soon would turn into a career choice. She attended the University of San Diego and graduated with a degree in business and philosophy. She later attended UC Santa Barbara to study chemistry and at the same time worked for Santa Barbara winery managing the tasting room and helping with Harvest. From 2003 to 2005 she worked for Preston Vineyards in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, doing wine production work.
In 2005, she decided to move back home and start working for the family winery. She joined the winery full-time in 2006 as Assistant Winemaker. She recently finished a two-year certificate course in enology from Washington State University.
Sarah and her husband, Brent Goedhart own the small Red Mountain winery, Goedhart Family. Brent has a certificate degree in viticulture from Washington State University and also worked at Santa Barbara Winery and Preston Vineyards to learn the art of winemaking. They live on Red Mountain with their young sons Lucas and Trevor.
Tom Rinaldi -
Tom Rinaldi, throughout his three decades of Napa Valley winemaking, has remained thrilled that his life's work involves creating something beautiful to share with others. Rinaldi has made wine at some of the valley's most important wineries, apprenticing at Freemark Abbey, Rutherford Hill and Round Hill before joining Dan and Margaret Duckhorn to help found Duckhorn Vineyards in 1978. There, for two decades, he established himself as one of Napa Valley's premier fashioners of elegantly classic Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. He recently retired as Director of Winemaking at Provenance and Hewitt where he earned the Wine Spectators #4 wine in the world for the 2010 Hewitt Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon in 2013. He has been the consulting winemaker for Ambassador Wines of Washington since 2012.
Rinaldi says that Cabernet Sauvignon is both the most challenging and the most rewarding of wines. "The winemaker is the maestro with Cabernet," he explains. "I have such an opportunity to mold the wine, to produce something from the heart. With Pinot Noir, there's no chance to blend. But with Cabernet you get to add something here, take away something there. Look, I've been given a blank canvas, the greatest paint box in the world to work with and the artistic freedom to put my experience to good use. What could be more fun?"
Rinaldi manages to have fun doing other things once in a while, however. For example, he enjoys meeting every month or so to taste wine with other longtime Napa Valley winemakers. They discuss vineyards, winemaking methods, industry trends and what they like and don't like about the wines they taste. In his spare time, he cycles and flies gliders.
Flavia Jukowski -
Tasting Room Manager
Flavia was born and raised in a small town in Southern Brazil. Her passion for food and wine started during college, where she studied nutrition and subsequently went to culinary school. After working in the nutrition industry for a few years in Brazil, she adventurously moved to Seattle and learned English while pursuing her passion for wine. Flavia holds Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 2 certification and is now proud to call the Pacific Northwest her second home. Flavia joined team Ambassador in 2014 and continues to focus on the best customer service at the tasting room and during events. Outside of work you will find her exploring different parts of Seattle, enjoying cooking, pairing wine with food, and entertaining with family and friends.
Aviva Vikstrom -
Marketing / Social Media Manager
Aviva brings a wealth of marketing and branding experience to the Ambassador Team. She is responsible for managing Ambassador’s social media presence, email marketing, wine competitions, media relations, advertising, and community and corporate partnerships. Before joining the team, Aviva was the Sales and Marketing Manager at Musiker Discovery Programs in New York. Aviva previously worked as a Program Manager at Solid Ground where she oversaw obesity prevention initiatives, including cooking and nutrition education programs in partnership with the Seattle School District and King County Public Health. Aviva is a graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and is trained as a Natural Foods Chef. She is a past board member of the Washington State Food and Nutrition Council, Seattle Schools Nutrition Advisory Committee, and The Seattle Women’s Business Incubator. When she isn’t updating the Ambassador Facebook page, Aviva enjoys traveling, throwing dinner parties, working in her vegetable garden, and chasing after her two active boys.