Wapato, Wash. – Fortuity Cellars, one of Yakima Valley’s newest wineries, announced today that winemaker Alexis Sells will join them later this month. Sells has most recently been on the winemaking team of Napa-based Duckhorn Cellars and has roots in the Washington wine industry.
“Lexi’s experience making wine in three of the world’s top wine-producing regions will certainly contribute greatly to our efforts to produce some of the state’s highest quality wines,” says Emily Fergestrom, co-owner of Fortuity Cellars. “We are thrilled to have Lexi part of Team Fortuity and know she is going to be a tremendous asset not only to us, but also to Yakima Valley and Washington wine.”
Sells grew up in Spokane, Wash., a city surrounded by agriculture, so it was only natural for her to venture into winemaking. She first learned of winemaking as a career at age 16 when her sister’s friend was a candidate for the Enology and Viticulture Program at Walla Walla Community College (WWCC).
“My initial draw to the wine industry was getting involved with the vineyards,” said Sells. “Once I worked my first harvest and I saw firsthand the grape juice start to ferment and release these incredible aromas, I was hooked.”
Sells attended the WWCC Enology and Viticulture program where she spent four harvests working with Walla Walla-based wineries and custom crush facilities (Bergevin Lane, Dusted Valley, College Cellars, Artifex, Isenhower and M&L Productions). After graduation, she travelled to New Zealand to work at Villa Maria where they produced everything from traditional Sauvignon Blanc to more obscure varietals like Arneis and Verdehlo. Following her international stint, Sells was hired by Duckhorn in Napa County, Calif., as a lab technician and then worked her way up over the past four years to help manage the Duckhorn Vineyards brand, including oversight over their Chardonnay program.
“I’m excited to return back to Washington where my love of wine began,” said Sells, now ready to take on her 10th harvest later this year. “Yakima is the center of everything Washington has to offer: amazing wine, skiing, hiking, beer, camping and rafting. I’m really looking forward to working with Emily and Lee as we focus in on and uncover all that Yakima Valley Wine Country has to offer.”
Fortuity Cellars is a relative newcomer to the wine industry with its first harvest in 2017 and first bottling in 2018. Owners Emily and Lee Fergestrom were recently named the 2019 Rising Startup for the state of Washington by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They source their grapes exclusively from Yakima Valley growers, all of which are family-owned. Their new winery production facility, tasting room and outdoor gardens in the Wapato area of Yakima County is set to open next month. You can find more information about Fortuity Cellars on their website at www.fortuitycellars.com.