Have you heard this one?
A baseball lifer, a comedian, a TV editor, a lawyer, and a software guru walk into a wine bar...
In the beginning
One day in 2005 Lawyer Todd and Software Guru Frank showed up at Calliope Vineyard to pick some grapes, and it was love at first sight. They bought the unusual high altitude micro-farm—3 acres of vines planted in 1985 in the primeval foothills of Mt. Hood—and soon decided to make some wine rather than selling the grapes. They named their hobby wine label "Silas," meaning ”Man of the Woods," for the classic Oregon forest that surrounded the vineyard.
Getting more serious
Several barrels of wine later, Lawyer Todd, working for SHoP Architects in New York, found himself in China, where he met La Mujer de Hierro, Baseball Executive Kim, wife of TV Editor Tony. Impressed with Todd’s passion and his wine, two more people journeyed to Oregon and fell under the spell of the tiny vineyard in the woods. With a bigger team, Silas formed relationships with other sustainably farmed vineyards, learned from the friendly community of Willamette winemakers, and made mo’better wine.
Getting less serious
Our technical and comedy prayers were answered when the Silas team met former-Wall Street chemist-turned-standup-comedian Alex Clark in his New York coffee shop/wine bar. Alex soon traded jokes and bartending in Lower Manhattan for jokes, bartending, and winemaking in tiny Amity, Oregon (pop. 1667), where he is now steeped in the vintner’s argot of pressing and punching down, and the bartender’s argot of polishing lots of glasses.
Fruits of our labor
We make our wine in Amity, OR, where our hosts Craig and Gabi Keeler have built a winery on a lovingly maintained biodynamic property with a majestic view.
We make Pinot Noir, of course, the grape that put Oregon on the map, shepherding it with kid gloves from several amazing vineyards to bottle. And also its unpigmented sibling Pinot Blanc, the unsung white grape of the Willamette.
Every year we salute our serendipitous wine journey by convening some grape varietals that might not otherwise find themselves in the same barrel. We call these wines “The Optimist.” They remind us that with a little luck, serendipitous meetings can end in a beautiful, if unpredictable, place.
The punch line?
Today, Tony Markward and Alex Clark immerse themselves in the winemaking, curate fruit from family farms, and blend the wines for each vintage. Todd Sigaty is our world-wide evangelist. Frank McBrearty lives on and manages Original Gangster Calliope Vineyard in Beavercreek, Oregon. And from her Midtown Manhattan baseball eyrie, Kim Ng makes sure having the time of our lives also includes some business sense, a fraught task that leads inevitably to her needing another glass of wine. Our bond remains the conviviality and community wine and winemaking bring to our lives.
So who’s laughing now? Us!