Fortuitous (for-tu-i-tous): Happening by chance.
There is nothing fortuitous about growing, producing or selling wine.
But one of Yakima’s newer wineries, Fortuity Cellars, embraces the fortuitous moments that life offers.
“Chance moments are presented to you at various times,” says co-owner Emily Fergestrom. “It is what you do with them that can impact or change your life in amazing ways.”
It was a chance meeting five years ago. Emily Christensen and Lee Fergestrom, both living in Seattle, were preparing for a blind date — with other people. The Seahawks were in the playoffs and each couple was planning to watch the game. Lee arrived early and saved a seat. His date never showed up, but he didn’t relinquish the available seat.
Emily showed up early for her date. The place was packed, with the exception of one empty chair. Emily asked if the seat was available, and Lee of course said yes. They hit if off beautifully. Before Emily left to meet her date, Lee asked for a formal date later in the week. This was the first of many fortuitous experiences the two would have.
They were married two years later and began looking at what they wanted to do for the next 20. Lee had worked in start-up businesses and Emily in various roles in communications and media relations. Together, they wanted to make a change. Starting their own business was a natural choice. But what kind of business?
“We wanted something experiential that included food and-or wine,” said Emily.
They decided that starting a winery fit their criteria.
They chose the Yakima Valley as the place to be. Finding property became another chance experience. On a whim, Emily scanned a real estate website and found a beautiful Tudor event center. They visited the facility, experiencing the beauty and the character.
“We knew immediately this was the place,” says Lee.
The next step: money. The wine business is a cash-flow business; up-front expenses are large. In order to fulfill their vision, they needed funding.
“Fortuity for us is not just chance; you have the responsibility to make sure your experiences become fortuitous moments,” says Emily.
Getting to this point was fortuitous. Funding the project was not. They took the painstaking steps to secure a Small Business Administration loan. Not only did they receive the funding, they were selected by the federal SBA as the 2019 Rising Startup Business of the Year for Washington and Northern Idaho.
The production facility and tasting room are under construction, with completion slated for fall. Located near Wapato, the new Fortuity Cellars will be in the heart of the Yakima Valley, offering a spectacular indoor-outdoor site for relaxing and enjoying whatever entertainment is set for the day.
The Fergestroms have been producing wine at Yakima Valley College’s incubator program in Grandview for the past two vintages and will stay through this year’s harvest.
A path that began with a chance meeting became the mantra of this duo. Regardless of what fortuitous moments Lee and Emily come across, they are sure to transform them into life experiences.
Wines are available by appointment at the Grandview tasting room, at several local retailers and restaurants or at www.fortuitycellars.com.
■ Fortuity 2017 The Fifty Fifty, $28: This wine is 50 percent malbec, 50 percent syrah, with a dark garnet color, aromas of dark fruit, licorice and leather, and flavors of blueberry, spice and smoke. I really like the boldness and balance of this wine.
■ Fortuity 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, $24: Clear, pale-straw color with passion fruit aromas; tropical fruit flavors with notes of melon and nectarine. I particularly enjoy the fruit notes in this wine. It is well-balanced with lots of acidity.
• Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries.