Owned by Talent residents Brian Denner and Clea Arthur, Simple Machine is an urban winery and tasting room located on the south side of Talent. “The Simple Machine name captures Brian’s winemaking style,” Clea said. “Activities in the winery are kept to basics, a practice of minimal intervention. It’s low technology, all hands-on, old-fashioned winemaking the way it’s been done for thousands of years.
“We foot-stomp all the reds and they are fermented using the whole cluster. We don’t take the stems off, but just sort the fruit and put it right in the tank. It’s a stylistic choice. It gives the wines a lot more spice, more tannins, more structure and depth. Simple Machine reflects the idea of taking really high quality grapes from great vineyards and just trying to shepherd that fruit into great wine.” Only native yeasts are used and production is intentionally kept small at 400-500 cases a year.
Clea was born and raised in Ashland and Applegate. She’s moved away quite a few times over the years but the Rogue Valley will always be home. After careers in banking and retail here in the Valley, Clea moved to Telluride, Colorado, and attempted to be a ski bum. Before she knew it she was the general manager of one of the best restaurants in town. “I was lucky to get to work with a James Beard Award Winning Chef and a fantastic restaurant owner. This experience motivated me to follow my dream of opening my own café.”
She decided to move back to the Rogue Valley (right after she went to Cookery School in London). In 2016 she opened and later sold her café in Talent. “The community was incredibly supportive and I quickly realized that my small kitchen could not keep up with their desire for food. My dear friend Awna had the infrastructure and commercial kitchen to take the café to the next level. She re-opened as the Sweet Beet Station and has been kicking ass!
“Brian’s only ever been a winemaker,” Clea explained. “He got hooked after he graduated college with his first degree in Anthropology. He worked a harvest in Paso Robles at Peachy Canyon and decided he needed to go back to college for more science. He earned his enology degree at CSU Fresno and has been making wine ever since. In California he worked at Williams Selyem for three vintages starting in 2000. He then moved to Chile and worked for Kingston Family Vineyards for three years. After Chile it was back to Paso Robles to open Denner Vineyard with his family. Then in 2010 he worked a vintage in New Zealand before landing in Southern Oregon. He’s had the pleasure working locally with some great wineries including Agate Ridge, Daisy Creek, Trium and Dancin’ Vineyards.”
The couple now lives above Talent. “We have about four wooded acres that our marvelous dog, Marvin, keeps careful watch over,” Clea continued. “We love living and working in Talent. Our daily commute through the vineyards and orchards fills us with gratitude for this wonderful place we get to call home. The only traffic jams are from the wild turkeys; and thankfully all the deer are in Ashland.”
Their tasting room offers a “build your own picnic” menu, is family friendly and dogs are welcome on the patios. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 12-6 pm. “We look forward to meeting more locals over a glass of natural, local wine. And please don’t fear the road construction!”
Simple Machine is located on the Bear Creek side of South Pacific Highway (99), next door to Bear Creek Storage.
Private tastings are available by appointment, and the tasting room can be rented for small, private parties (25-30 people).