Right along Hwy 99 in Phoenix, a new winery is bringing vitality back to the fire-seared neighborhoods. Catalyst Wine Collective is the collaboration of three different winemakers—Andy Myer of Goldback Wines, Rob Folin of Ryan Rose Wines, and Joe Chepolis of Sound and Vision Wines. Carmen Nydegger, Joe’s wife and business partner, explained that each of the winemakers met through the industry network and all reached out to each other about the same time—with the same great idea: a collaborative tasting room. After months of “brainstorming and beers,” Catalyst Wine Collective was born—and then tossed into a whirlwind of challenges.
Carmen and Joe had just released their first wine in February of 2020. Before it had a chance to become a favorite, the couple was forced to switch to online only sales. But on the plus side, the pandemic gave the collective more time to search for a tasting room. Phoenix was an ideal decision because of its central location. Goldback Wines came from Ashland, Ryan Rose Wines, from Gold Hill, and Sound and Vision Wines, Talent. In August of 2020, the group found their home at the Phoenix Industrial Studios—which had everything they were looking for.
The next trial came a few weeks later when fire swept through Phoenix. At first, the winemaking collective thought the building was gone—but it had been heroically saved by the owners of Clyde’s Corner and the Phoenix Industrial Studios. But of course, not everyone in the city had been as fortunate.
“A year after the fires, people still detour around Phoenix thinking everything is gone. But we’re still here!” said Nydegger. “Lots of businesses are still here.”
Yet despite the challenges of the past two years, the wine collective had an exciting opening in April 2021. Since each winemaker uses different varietals and produces unique wines, the tasting experience is often more diverse than at a normal winery. “We get to showcase how much we can do here in the Rogue Valley,” said Nydegger, who also explained that the collective hoped to experiment with growing even more varietals in the future. “This area has so much potential as a growing wine region. And we’ve been met with so much support from others in the industry. We get to share and learn together instead of just being competitors.”
As the cities of Talent and Phoenix continue to rebuild, Catalyst Wine Collective—the only tasting room in Phoenix—hopes to be a “bright spot” in the community atmosphere. The group has enjoyed participating with other Phoenix businesses, such as the Oregon Cheese Cave, for food pairings and specials events. And since the wine industry is so collaborative, Catalyst Wine Collective would enjoy expanding their tasting experience even further by offering occasional guest wines on their flights.
The day-to-day logistics of running a wine collective are often daunting; the need for communication is constant and critical, and the legal paperwork is seemingly never-ending. However, to Nydegger and the winemakers, the positives outweigh even the piles of paperwork. Together, the group built and designed their tasting room to their preferences. Not only are they proud of what they’ve accomplished, but they’re looking forward to what the future holds.
(Strategy 4.5.1.– Highlight the region’s renowned wineries and promote events such as wine and food tours. Support the Rogue Valley Vintners association and tourism organizations to promote awareness of local vineyards.)
(Strategy 5.2.– Support city-specific quality-of-place initiatives that contribute to the unique identity of Southern Oregon’s communities and encourage the development of vibrant downtowns.)
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