From the Ashes Comes Wine

Simple Machine is a winery nestled in the heart of Talent, Oregon and sits adjacent to Bear Creek. It was created by Brian Denner and Clea Arthur. Brian is a winemaker and Clea runs the tasting room, customer relations, and does the business end of things. Simple Machine is known for bold red wines that are created using whole cluster fermentation (meaning the entire grape stems and all, is used in the process). Loved by locals and tourists alike, things were going very well for Simple Machine; and then came 2020.


Like many small businesses, Simple Machine faced a variety of challenges related to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, but no one was prepared for the natural disaster that would destroy huge swaths of Talent, including Simple Machine. September 8, 2020 the Alameda fire, fanned by raging winds, devastated a random patchwork of the Rogue Valley. Within a day, Brian and Clea lost the entire facility and four years’ worth of wine in bottle and barrel.


Simple Machine was referred to Ausland Group to explore how to rebuild. At first Clea wasn’t sure if Ausland was the right fit for the rebuild because the project was relatively small. In reality, it was a perfect set of challenges for Ausland’s team of design and construction professionals.


Ausland was able to deliver on all of Brian and Clea’s project needs of navigating the approval process for a fire destroyed commercial operation, a tight budget, and an even tighter schedule to be functional for the fall of 2021 grape crush season.  Because Ausland is one team of planners, designers, and builders, the process was seamless, start to finish. Working within the reconstruction budget, Ausland quickly proposed a plan to build a new fermentation area, wine production stage, wine storage, and tasting room. “They’ve done a great job of listening to us and identifying what their needs are. We have felt very heard from Ausland in terms of designing,” said Clea.


Simple Machine also received tremendous support from the Southern Oregon community and beyond. Brian and Clea received fruit donations to kickstart production and pre-sold wine. So far, they have pre-sold wine to people in 20 different states.


The new building captures elements from the original design which was destroyed in the fire while incorporating new ones. Clea is excited for the new roll-up garage door that will fill the tasting room with natural light and function as a walk-up window for guests to order from the outside. This is one of several changes that will create a dynamic and practical space for both production and guest accommodation.


We all hope for some return to normalcy in 2021 (fingers crossed!) Brian will return to winemaking and Clea will continue to introduce guests to the unique and exceptional experience Simple Machine has to offer. Stay tuned for grand opening event information!

Chris Morsa | September 3, 2021

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