TALENT, Ore.- The two owners of a Talent winery lost their entire business to the Almeda fire last year. But after months of community support, they say they are more ready than ever to rebuild their business.
“You can rebuild, and we are there with you. It’s been humbling and amazing,” said co-owner Clea Arthur.
The Oregon wine making community rallied behind Simple Machine winery after it burned to the ground during the 2020 Alemda fire. That collaborative effort continued on for months helping the set of owners through a busy December harvest season.
“Miraculously, in spite of the winery burning down at the start of harvest, we were able to complete everything as planned, just with a change of venue,” said Brain Denner, one of the co-owners and Simple Machine’s wine maker. He says that support means they can release a wine as soon as this spring.
“Feels like it wasn’t possible at first but it somehow, with the help of a lot of people and colleagues and friends, its going to be possible,” he explained.
Brain and his business partner, Clea Arthur, says they never imagined being able to do this back in September.
“When we lost the winery, we definitely did not think we’d make a vintage in 2020. That was just off the table, we were like, that’s not going to happen. And we didn’t know if we’d even rebuild, it was just that devastating,” Arthur said.
Now the pair is preparing to rebuild on the same lot in Talent.
“We were really part of the talent community with the way we were located and with our customer base. So we would like to be back and part of the rebuild for Talent, and Phoenix in general,” she explained. The owners say they have big plans for the new space.
“It’s going to be really cool! It’s a custom designed winery around what we do at Simple Machine. It’ll be unique to the valley in that sense,” Denner said.
And it’s not the first time they’ve had to re-invent the business.
“I’ve just been working from my home office now on insurance claims and cash flow projects and trying to re-imagine our business again, because we already re-imagined it with COVID,” Arthur said. The pair credits a large part of their return to the donations and collaborative attitude of the wine community.
“So much fruit, barrels, bottling, packaging supplies, it’s been really really inspiring,” Arthur says. She explained that it is no small task to return to that location as they navigate fire clean-up and insurance aid.
But they say they hope to have a tasting room open by this summer.
Grace Smith is a reporter for NBC5 News. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of the University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl.
Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it’s the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.