Selah’s First Downtown Wine Tasting Room Now Open

Owners Of Rider Cellars Expand Business After Buying Vineyard In 2016

By Molly Allen
As downtown Selah continues to grow, Colby and Kristen Rider, owners of Rider Cellars, decided it was the perfect time to open their new tasting room.
Just two weeks ago, the Riders introduced downtown Selah’s first tasting room of its type, showcasing their two award-winning wines.
The tasting room at 3 N. First St. opened Aug. 3 and will host a grand opening later this month.
The Riders moved to Selah from Woodinville in 2016 after purchasing a 5-acre lot with a well-tended 4.5-acre vineyard on Faulkner Road.
Colby Rider said the couple decided it was time for a change from the busy lifestyle and traffic on the west side of the mountains.
“We definitely found a hidden gem,” he said.
While celebrating their two-year wedding anniversary on a trip to Friday Harbor, the couple fell in love with the small-town approach and the number of small shops and tasting rooms around the region.
“We walked around town, past all of these wine shops and tasting rooms and thought to ourselves ‘maybe we could do that,’” Colby said.
That night, the couple got back to their hotel room, did a quick search on Zillow for available properties from Cle Elum to Prosser and fell in love with what would be their new home in Selah.
Kristen, 35, was the owner of a dance studio at the time, and Colby, 32, had a background in commercial fishing.
“I’ve always been used to hard work and working outdoors,” Colby said. “She is definitely the brains behind the business side of it.”
The vineyard was originally planted in 2001, and now the Riders have a Double-Gold wine award under their belt. The couple received the honor from Savor Northwest after their first two wines were released.
That success convinced the couple to continue an existing partnership with winemaker Andrew Martinez of Martinez & Martinez Winery in Prosser to produce the first vintages.
The previous owners of the property, Paul Humphrey and Cheryl Hahn, were working with Martinez to produce wine from the vineyard, but they never went into business selling wine.
When the Riders made an offer on the house, there already was another offer, Kristen said.
“The previous owners found out we actually wanted to utilize the vineyard, so they went with our offer instead,” she said.
The Riders harvested for their 2016 vintage just six weeks after moving in.
“It was very much a learning process,” Colby said. “But plenty of textbooks, videos and lessons from Paul taught me along the way.”
The Riders harvested their first grapes for production with the assistance of Humphrey and the connection they had established with Martinez.
“Usually, when you buy a house, you never even meet the previous owners,” Kristen said. “We have been fortunate to have their support from the very beginning.”
The Riders have worked with Hahn, a well-known local artist, to display her artwork on the walls of the new tasting room.
The couple intentionally started out small, leaving plenty of room for growth.
“I was tired of working for other people,” Colby said. “And eventually I plan to learn how to make wine on my own.”
Their 2016 harvest focused on the Pinot Blanc and Zweigelt varietals.
“We love that we can focus on unique varietals that aren’t necessarily seen all over the place,” Colby said. “It’s just always been my thing to go a bit against the grain.”
When the 2016 vintage wines were bottled, the Riders partnered with River Canyon Espresso in Selah to open a small tasting room in the back of their building, but only for the summer months.
“We knew we would need to figure out something else come September,” Colby said.
The Riders used their space at River Canyon as a test run for May and June, gathering comments and criticisms from their first customers, before opening the First Street tasting room.
Kristen, who works as a dance instructor at Footlites — across the street from the tasting room — saw the “for rent” sign in the window and knew they had to take the leap. The couple is excited to bring something new to Selah’s blossoming downtown area.
Others in town seem to agree.
“Rider Cellars is a great addition to the downtown area,” said Whitney Stohr, executive director of the Selah Downtown Association. “We’ve been seeing a lot of new and exciting development like this.”
The Riders are looking forward to displaying handmade goods and artwork, and possibly hosting Art Nights within the space.
“We’ve really been blessed with the support of this community and in this short amount of time,” Kristen said.
Rider Cellars will be hosting its grand opening celebration on Aug. 22. For more information about the business, visit http://www.ridercellars.com.

Originally published in the Yakima Business Times

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