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New wine collective is ’totally Southern Oregon’

Like many great ideas, Catalyst Wine Collective began with a few visionary winemakers having casual conversations, sharing wine and saying, “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if...”

Given a year of pandemic restrictions, they all had the time to think about, plan for, and have a series of private collective tastings. Then on a 106-degree day in late August, a pizza craving brought a couple of them to Clyde’s Corner in Phoenix. They did a “double take on the building and we saw it had all we were looking for. That kickstarted the idea forward,” says Carmen Nydegger.

Then the Almeda fire swept through. The building was singed but saved thanks to the efforts of the owners of Clyde’s Corner staying with the building and hosing it down, putting out hotspots, and also because of a living roof as part of the intentionally sustainable building and landscape design. Now, it houses the first wine bar in Phoenix, perfectly situated along the up-and-coming Old 99 Wine Trail.

The brainchild of Andy Myer (Goldback Wines), and Rob Folin (Ryan Rose Wines), along with Joe Chepolis, Nydegger’s Sound & Vision Wine Co. partner, the collaboration offers the experiences of three distinctive brands and three different wine styles, each “highlighting the diversity in winemaker and wine varietals,” Myer points out.

“Along with more possibilities, this collaborative/collective approach to winemaking offers more ways to have fun and keep ourselves entertained. We’re part of the new wave of bootstrapping wineries.”

“It’s totally Southern Oregon,” emphasizes Folin. “Yeah, this place is perfect — laid back but flexible. It’s still a work in progress (like wine) and will continue to evolve.”

Catalyst Wine Collective pulled open its big overhead doors in late April, inviting the light and air to sweep through the casually urban space, and letting the wine flow. The indoor-outdoor space speaks to a soft, industrial vibe. Sleek concrete floors, warm woods and luminous watercolors by a local artist create a restorative ambiance. The white tile bar with its smooth wood top, along with the tables, were built by Chepolis, although I’m told the wood sanding was definitely a collaborative effort. The decor embodies cool, charm, restraint and a sense of belonging; the quaffable wines will keep you there.

The assemblage of wines showcase the varied terroir of Southern Oregon grapes and the eclecticism of the wines, each characteristic of the winemakers’ taste: sultry and spicy syrah, peachy and clear rosé, orange, skin-fermented riesling, and an edgy, tantalizing tempranillo. Collectively, they create the right mix of polish and balance to create flights for all palates.The openness of the space reflects an attitude of fluidity, as the interior flows into the exterior linking it visually and engaging the senses with a “taste of place.”

“I like that we have a connection to all of these things,” says Nydegger. “To think we would work that hard for something, we’re invested, there’s heart in it. We built all of this.”

Catalyst Wine Collective is at 4495 S. Pacific Highway, #340, Phoenix. For information, see www.catalystwinecollective.com or call 541-897-0144.

Reach Paula Bandy at pbthegrapevine@gmail.com and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine.