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Chosen Family Wines presents fresh perspective

Chosen Family Wines co-founder Channing Frye pouring wine samples. ##Photo by Josh Chang
A bottle of Chosen Family rosé wine. ##Photo by Josh Chang
Chosen Family Wines co-founder Channing Frye standing with vice president Tiquette Bramlett. ##Photo by Josh Chang
Lineup of Chosen Family Wines. ##Photo by Josh Chang
The winery enjoys  pairing wines with unexpected dishes. ##Photo by Josh Chang

By Annelise Kelly

On a crisp autumn Sunday, Chosen Family Wines released its fall selection at Han Oak, Peter Cho’s celebrated Korean restaurant in Northeast Portland.
The warm industrial space hums. Folks line up for wine samples to savor with fried chicken, dirty rice, mashed potatoes and slaw– all punching well above their weight– expected from this respected kitchen. Football takes over the big screen, babies and toddlers plunder the mashed potatoes at family tables. Fashionable young wine aficionados mingle, many sporting the kind of track shoes that create long lines and buying frenzies when they drop. What a young, stylish, lively crowd.

Above it all, quite literally, Channing Frye looks over the scene.

The former Portland Trail Blazer (2007-2009) left NBA basketball in 2019, pivoting into the rich world of Oregon wine. He founded Chosen Family in partnership with former NBA Championship teammate and current Miami Heat star Kevin Love, along with Jacob Gray and Chase Renton, winemaker and owner of L’Angolo Estate.

Chosen Family. The name reflects Frye’s mission of uniting people. He believes one of wine’s main attractions is the way it brings people together. He clearly thrives in the bustling environment while he smiles, chats and handshakes his way around the room.

“During the pandemic, we lost a lot of empathy toward each other,” he said later. “As humans, we need that. It’s important to feel and be connected with each other. Man, what makes me happy is being able to have great conversations over great food and wine and really just talk and learn about one other.”
His 14 years as a pro basketball player expose him to the delights of food and wine. As detailed in a November New York Times story by Gerald Narisco, NBA players travel extensively, earn a great deal of money and burn some serious calories. According to the article, the average annual pay in the league is $8.32 million, and every team plays 41 out-of-town games in 28 cities, allowing athletes extensive opportunities to explore the diverse culinary scenes at game destinations. Sharing wine, meals and restaurant recommendations is a treasured pastime for many members of the league, and helped guide Frye into his second career.

The business model of Chosen Family stresses collaborations with established wineries, increasing opportunities for true community-building. The winery currently offers six wines under the Chosen Family Wines label, and another six Collab Wines, developed and crafted in partnership with other wineries. Current Collabs include Chardonnay with Lingua Franca (Eola Amity Hills); Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with L’Angolo Estate (Dundee Hills); Pinot Noir with Salty Goats (West Sonoma Coast); Cabernet Sauvignon with Salty Goats (Howell Mountain); and Syrah with Hazelfern Cellars (Walla Walla).

Collaborating with established wineries matches well with Frye’s identity as a traveler, student of wine and team member. “Like for me, I’m constantly searching for new wines and places, right? Besides winemakers and vineyards, there are so many amazing places to drink and eat. Why can’t we, as Chosen Family, share those with others? It also makes our membership fun. In your box, you’re getting a little bit of everything on top of what Chosen makes from the Willamette Valley that you can share with people. So, you’re not only learning but also receiving variety.”

He observes, “everybody we collaborate with are amazing, amazing people, and we produce less than 100 cases on purpose. When we sell out, we go ‘guys, if you like this wine, go visit them, you should go learn more about them’.”

Learning while collaborating enhances Frye’s experience in the wine world. “I’ve always been a part of a team. Working with Hazelfern, Lingua Franca, Salty Goats and L’Angolo, well, I feel like I’m part of a team. And they support me, my questions and journey of learning. I’m not just learning about Oregon; I’m learning about Sonoma Coast; I’m learning about Napa; I’m learning about Walla Walla.”

The scene at the Han Oak wine release reflects the winery’s welcoming accessible ethos. Frye observes that just as people have different opinions on their favorite part of a film or book, they are attracted to the wine world for different reasons… the tasting room experience, the stories, the vineyard or the wine itself. He acknowledges that “my demographic are people who like sports, who are younger. I’m 40– it’s not like we speak a crazy different language. We just speak a little different vibe, right? The music and food might be a little different, too.”

He recognizes how Chosen Family Wines demonstrate diversity in the wine arena, but only in part because “I’m a seven-foot Black guy from Phoenix, Arizona.” He also mentions his outsider status as a transplant to the area and newcomer to the industry. As such, he brings an original approach to wine. For example, he compares the limited quantity Chosen Family makes of their Collab wines to the scarcity of certain high-profile athletic shoes that drop in limited editions. That fresh perspective comes across loud and clear.

Chosen Family Wines

16450 S.W. Wilsonville Rd., Wilsonville


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