Crafting Community and Celebrating Abundance in the Heart of Portland, Oregon
Nestled amidst the vibrant urban landscape of Portland, Oregon, Caelestis Cellars stands as a testament to passion, community, and the art of winemaking. Co-owned by Christian Chandler and Kim Silva, this unique urban winery brings together a fusion of backgrounds and dreams, resulting in a shared venture that marries their individual journeys and aspirations. From their beginnings to the creation of Caelestis Cellars, their story is one of transformation, connection, and the pursuit of exceptional wines.
Roots Beyond the Vine: Diverse Backgrounds
Before delving into the world of wine, both Christian Chandler and Kim Silva followed distinct paths. Christian’s 25-year career in the coffee industry equipped him with the technical expertise and refined palate that seamlessly translated into the realm of winemaking. The meticulous attention to detail, quality, and the understanding of factors like microclimate and harvest timing, instilled in him through coffee roasting, became the cornerstones of his winemaking philosophy.
On the other hand, Kim Silva’s 20+ year journey in the nonprofit sector, focused on connecting people and fostering community experiences, laid the foundation for her role in the winery’s member services and winemaking apprenticeship. The convergence of their backgrounds in coffee, nonprofit work, and a shared love for nature and community paved the way for the birth of Caelestis Cellars.
From Beer to Wine: A Journey of Discovery
Christian’s transformation from a beer enthusiast to a winemaker was a journey that began with a trip to the Canadian Okanagan, where he encountered the captivating allure of family wineries and the aromatic symphony of fermenting wine. The experience ignited his curiosity, leading him to study Viticulture and Enology at Washington State University. Armed with a blueprint for a small, family-run urban winery that sourced grapes from the Northwest’s finest vineyards, Caelestis Cellars emerged as a realization of this vision.
For Kim, her introduction to wine was deeply rooted in her upbringing. Growing up amidst the Napa Valley wineries and Italian traditions, wine was an integral part of her life. However, wine headaches prompted a hiatus until she met Christian, who guided her toward wines that suited her sensitivities. Thus, her journey back to wine was not only a personal one but also an essential part of the winery’s narrative.
Inspired by Travel: Shaping a Unique Experience
Caelestis Cellars was inspired not only by the wineries of the Canadian Okanagan but also by a transformative trip to Spain. The couple’s experiences in Spanish wineries, with leisurely private tours led by sommeliers, planted the seeds for their winery’s distinctive approach. Unlike the fast-paced, sales-oriented wine tastings often found in the US, Christian and Kim envisioned a more intimate and immersive experience for their guests. Private parties held in people’s homes became the canvas for their vision, offering uninterrupted access to an expert winemaker, an opportunity to delve into the winemaking process, and the chance to savor wines at a leisurely pace.
Embracing Change: A Pandemic-Inspired Transformation
The path to owning a winery wasn’t a linear one for Christian and Kim. Christian’s winemaking journey spanned over a decade, with suggestions from friends and acquaintances urging him to share his wines with a wider audience. The idea of owning a winery was always present but gained momentum during the global pandemic. Amidst quarantine and life changes, they decided to take the leap and bring Caelestis Cellars to life. Despite the challenging times, their licenses were acquired swiftly, marking the official beginning of their winemaking venture in the fall of 2020.
Crafting Community and Celebrating Diversity: Caelestis Cellars’ Distinctive Charm
What sets Caelestis Cellars apart is its intimate and personal approach to winemaking and sharing. Functioning as a working winery rather than a tourist destination, Christian and Kim remain intricately involved in every facet of the winemaking process while personally sharing the story of each wine with their guests. Their commitment to being a micro-winery allows them to explore small batches of premiere grapes sourced sustainably from the Pacific Northwest, resulting in wines that encapsulate the region’s unique characteristics.
As urban winemakers, Christian and Kim are free to curate unexpected and exciting grape varieties for their members and customers, enhancing their exploration and delivering a truly distinctive experience. By fostering a deep connection with their patrons, they are creating a community centered around their shared passion for exceptional Pacific Northwest wines.
Challenges and Triumphs: Redefining Wine Perceptions
One of the challenges Caelestis Cellars faces, like many small or urban wineries, is debunking the misconception that only large, established wineries can produce exceptional wines. Through their dedication to meticulous winemaking practices and access to high-quality grapes, Christian and Kim have showcased that greatness can be achieved irrespective of size. Their collaboration with vineyards that offer prized grapes further emphasizes their commitment to nurturing these grapes into some of the finest wines the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
A Future of Connection and Celebration
The journey of Caelestis Cellars is one of passion, connection, and celebrating the abundance of the Pacific Northwest. With a focus on fostering a warm and welcoming community, Christian and Kim are dedicated to sharing their expertise, passion, and exceptional wines with their members and patrons. As urban winemakers who have transformed their dreams into reality, their story serves as an inspiration for anyone seeking to forge their own unique path in the world of wine.