Mary Derby

Owner/Wine Maker at DAMA Wines


What inspired you to start your business?

After taking a 2 year hiatus within the wine industry due to the sudden and tragic loss of my husband in 2004, I decided to jump back on the proverbial horse in 2007 and get back in the business. The idea of starting a women-owned winery seemed somewhat daunting at the time and honestly, it still is. But I knew that my passion for the wine industry would overcome all obstacles. DAMA, meaning lady or woman in Spanish and other languages, seemed a perfect fit for the name of our winery. Our wines and our labels represent & embrace the beauty, courage, and strength that all women possess. We are honored to create wines that allow us to raise our glass to all those courageous women.

What three traits define you?

 Creative, strong-willed, humble.

What women inspire you?

Countless women have inspired me through my life from those in the restaurant and wine industry to artists. From the late Chef & Restaurateur, Judy Rogers of Zuni Café’, to the fearless female surfer Bethany Hamilton, to the awe-inspiring classical singer Jessye Norman.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

The trend of more women in the wine industry has exploded over the past 20 years and it is so great to see women playing a major role & being recognized as major players.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

DAMA is a small business, even though we have been around for over 10 years. Every year, I look back & think wow we did it! At times it feels like hundreds of balls are being juggled at once and I can’t let any of them drop…and of course some do. So I guess the hardest part is to not let the mistakes that will happen destroy your vision.

How do you define success?

Success is such a difficult word to grasp at times. Does it mean that I am successful because the business is doing well, or is it more of an emotional-esoteric fulfillment? The artist in me feels the most rewarded by the knowledge that what was once just a seed of an idea, is now in full realization. However, the burgeoning business woman is very happy to finally see the monetary success.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Write a book.

What’s the best way to start your day?

First a small cup of espresso, then a walk with my dogs.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... examine what the challenge is, why it has presented itself and what are the best options to overcome it.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself you got this girl!

The one thing I couldn’t live without is… my sanity.

By this time next year, I will be… knee deep in grapes.

The best thing that happened to me last week was… the wonderful conversation I had with a dear friend of over 20 years.

To get my creative juices flowing, I… listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony & go through my art books.


DAMA Wines, one of Washington State’s few woman-owned wineries, embodies the spirit of pioneering women who have inspired passion, creativity and positive change for centuries. Every bottle of their wine contains a classic, every label is a work of art. Their efforts and wines are dedicated to all women who, like great wines and true works of art, meet the challenges ahead of them with fortitude and style.

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