Christine Collier is awesome.
She is sincere, hard working, and exciting. After talking to her for five minutes I decided I wanted to buy something from her. There is an old Chinese proverb, “A man without a smiling face must not open shop.” Collier is fortunate to sit on the opposite end of this spectrum.
It’s an exciting time for her and her boyfriend Chris Jiron, who are preparing to debut 100 cases of their The Enigma Machine this May after spending the last two years in preparation. Collier, 24, is currently the youngest Oregonian with a winery license. They are working together to create something special out of Cipher Cellars.
“I always wanted to run my own business but I just didn’t know what field. When I started working for Willamette Valley Vineyards doing marketing and social media work, we just kind of realized that we loved this industry.” She continued, “You’re connected with growing the product, producing the product, and selling it. It all comes with that experience where you get to connect with your customers. There’s just so much involved with it and as we were working for other producers we realized that.”
The Enigma Machine is “a 50-percent Syrah and 50-percent Tempranillo blend of grapes from Folin Vineyards near Gold Hill”. They are looking to start producing a white wine this year with the hopes it will appeal to a younger audience.
Collier earned a business administration degree with a concentration in entrepreneurship at Oregon State University.
“People 21 through 32 are the largest growing wine consumer right now. Our brand definitely targets to that,” she said. “By making a white wine it’ll be easier to introduce people to our wines. A lot of the times that’s what they will start with.”
Jiron attended the Northwest Vitaculture Center, a wine-making school connected to Chemeketa Community College in Salem. He is currently working in New Zealand, further developing his craft while the Oregon harvest is in its off season.
“We were working with so many people and we just realized that we could do it. So many people identify with us because we are young and motivated and energetic. I think they like supporting the boutique or hard working companies.”
The two have found a comfortable home within Southern Oregon’s wine community, where they’ve been able to build mutually beneficially relationships.
“Southern Oregon is really coming into its own, and we thought it’d be a good place to be so we can kind of grow with it.” She said,”We don’t have to have it all figured out right now but we can kind of learn as we grow, where in the Willamette Valley it’s a lot more established. You have to have a lot more money to play.”
Collier said she’s looking forward to experimenting through the company’s growth and finding new ways to give the consumer what they are looking for.
“We want to do something different and add to the reasons someone will buy our wines instead of one of the 400 other wineries in Oregon.”
Visit ciphercellars.com for updates and help them win $100,000 in a contest sponsored by Dockers by clicking here.