Channing Frye ##Photo provided

Q&A: Channing Frye

Former NBA player turns winery owner

Born in White Plains, New York, former NBA player Channing Frye played as a power forward-center for the University of Arizona. He was drafted eighth overall by the New York Knicks in the 2005 NBA draft, and was the first college senior to be selected in that draft. He also played for the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, winning an NBA Championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. Frye, wife Lauren and their four children live in Portland. In 2007, Frye established The Channing Frye Foundation with the mission of guiding youth in a positive direction. In 2010, Frye and his wife established The Frye Family Foundation in order to give back to their community.

How did you first become interested in wine?

CF: Honestly, I got into wine when I moved to Oregon in 2007. It really blew up for me in 2014 when my friend, now business partner, Jake (Gray), introduced me to a new vineyard. Being around the winemakers and soaking up knowledge about every detail made wine mean that much more to me. It drew me in, and I quickly dove into the different Oregon vineyards and styles of wines. Also, I got to know and develop a close relationship with some ridiculously amazing people in this industry.

Do you have an “ah-ha” wine moment? What was the wine?

CF: I think every time I taste a new wine I have an ah-ha moment. I love wine, and the more I learn about it, the more I realize that I know so little. Being so new to this industry, I’m just soaking up knowledge and inspiration from people I’ve met.

What made you decide to start a wine label?

CF: Getting into the wine business wasn’t even a thought until after I was done with basketball. It’s literally a labor of love. I’m so blessed to wake up and be able to work with my best friends, get to know amazing people in the wine industry and learn constantly. To have an amazing winemaker like Chase (Renton) as a business partner is huge because he believes in what we want to do with wine and who we want to work with as a business.

How involved are you in the process?

CF: I’m involved in every process except for the actual winemaking, but I’m there to taste and make sure the wine is what we want as a collective. We are blessed to have Chase, so we leave him alone after we’ve agreed to what kind of taste we, as a team, want our wine to have. He makes ridiculously good wine, and all I’d do is mess it up. Ha! But everything else that goes along with owning a wine label is split between Jake and myself.

Can you tell us about the wines just released?

CF: We released our 2018 Pinot Noir and 2019 Chardonnay on October 5, 2020. The biggest thing we wanted to do this year was to earn trust from our customers and the wine industry. As a business, we have the unique opportunity to work with multiple winemakers for each style of wine. For our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Chase made it. With our Pinot, we wanted to go a bit bolder, while ensuring we give love to the traditional style. Our Chardonnay, to me, is an absolute stunner. Chase has somehow got smelling notes of bright fruits yet a crisp citrus end. My wife only drinks white wine, and she would drink this all day, every day. Both wines can stand up to delicious food or be drunk on their own.

What is the meaning behind your winery name, Chosen Family Wine?

CF: The name Chosen Family is a representation of our life. Who you choose to spend time with becomes your family. Whether it’s eating a meal, watching a game or just sitting and talking, we all feel like wine is a connector, a “memory in a bottle.” Being around people who make you better, who support you, who love you, is your family, blood or not.


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