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MailTribune.com
  • Natural fit for a vintage startup

    Jacksonville residents Christine Collier and Chris Jiron plan to release their Cipher Cellars inaugural wine this spring
  • Christine Collier is already ahead of the curve.
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    • If you vote
      Winery: Cipher Cellars
      Label: The Enigma Machine
      Vintage: 2009
      Available: May
      The contest: http://apps.facebook.com/dockerswearthepants/entries/7671
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      If you vote
      Winery: Cipher Cellars

      Label: The Enigma Machine

      Vintage: 2009

      Available: May

      The contest: http://apps.facebook.com/dockerswearthepants/entries/7671
  • Christine Collier is already ahead of the curve.
    Many college graduates have difficulty finding jobs in their chosen field. Collier simply followed the game plan she learned while pursuing a business administration degree with a concentration in entrepreneurship at Oregon State University.
    At 24, the Jacksonville resident lays claim to being the youngest Oregonian with a winery license, and this spring she and her boyfriend, Chris Jiron, will release their inaugural Cipher Cellars vintage, The Enigma Machine, a 50-percent Syrah and 50-percent Tempranillo blend of grapes from Folin Vineyards near Gold Hill.
    Collier got her start in the industry at Willamette Valley Vineyards, a major operation near her hometown of Turner, doing social-media marketing. Jiron, a 26-year-old Hidden Valley graduate, attended wine-making school at the Northwest Vitaculture Center connected to Chemeketa Community College in Salem and presently works at Folin Cellars.
    Among the wines Collier marketed for Willamette Valley Vineyards was the Griffin Creek label, which is made with fruit sourced from Quail Run Vineyard. That got her interested in Southern Oregon wines. The duo moved to Jackson County last August, and she took a job as a wine specialist at Harry & David's Country Store. She soon launched Southern Oregon Wine Blog, which delves into every aspect of the local industry.
    Folin Vineyards, operated by Scott and Loraine Folin, is among the region's newer wineries, and its first vintage was in 2005.
    "They had some extra room and did a custom crush for us," Collier said.
    The first offering will be available in May through the Pacific Wine Club, local restaurants and the Medford Harry & David store. Cipher Cellars began, as many startups do, on a shoestring budget — they spent between $8,000 and $10,000, Collier said.
    Along with elbow grease and enthusiasm, Collier is hoping a bit of social-networking pixie dust might boost the company onto solid footing.
    Collier and Jiron discovered a Facebook contest for entrepreneurs, sponsored by Levi brand Dockers, called "Wear the Pants Project," with the winner collecting $100,000.
    Collier wrote a 400-character description of her plan and is now gathering support to come up with Internet hits through March 15. The top 50 vote-getters will submit essays. Then the field will be narrowed to five finalists and public voting will take place the final week of April.
    It's admittedly silly, she said, but it could launch Cipher Cellars to bigger and better things.
    "It would help production," she said. "And marketing."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.
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