Local winemakers rally around small winery lost in Almeda Fire

TALENT, Ore. — A Talent winemaker lost everything in the Almeda Fire, but local wineries are already pitching in to get him back on his feet.

After grabbing one metal wine-making tool, Simple Machine Winery owner Brian Denner fled from the Almeda Fire, as thousands of homes and hundreds of businesses turned to ash.

“Real feel in the air that you weren’t going to escape,” Denner said.

While Denner was able to safely evacuate, he watched from the hills, as his city of Talent burned to the ground. The very next day, he returned to see what was left of his winery.

“It was a horrible, surreal dream, you know? It looked like a war zone. It was just flames and leveled buildings,” Denner said.

Within no time, the wine community rallied around his small winery.

“I started calling the growers and finding and finding people who were willing to volunteer to donate and every single person I talked to said yes. I didn’t have a single person say no,” Brian Gruber, winemaker at Barrel 42 Custom Winecraft, said.

Ten different growers donated grapes. Now Simple Machine Winery will have a full 2020 harvest. Along with grapes, barrels, bottles, storage space and equipment were all donated.

“It’s really what inspired us to stay here and rebuild. We couldn’t leave Talent. We couldn’t just pull up roots and leave Talent. It’s our home,” Denner said.

But as Simple Machine Winery works to rebuild, their focus is elsewhere.

“We’ll bounce back. It’s going to take a lot of work, and we’re starting from ground zero, but there’s a lot of people out there that don’t have many resources, so I mean we’re more worried about our community,” Denner said.

Simple Machine Winery is hoping to have wine by this coming spring. They are working on a special release to fund their rebuild. More information can be found on their website: simplemachinewine.com

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Anna Weeks is the anchor of NBC5 News at 5 and 11 and Your Place @7 with Anna Weeks. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Originally from the Portland area, Anna loves exploring Southern Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and watching sports.
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