Congratulations Clearwater Canyon Cellars!
Port of Lewiston Business Incubator tenant named 2015 Idaho Winery of the Year
In economic development, when one of us wins, we all win.
That’s true of Clearwater Canyon Cellars’ recent recognition as Idaho Winery of the Year from Wine Press Northwest.
“It was a big deal for us and it was a big deal for the LC Valley,” said Coco Umiker, who owns Clearwater Canyon Cellars with her husband Karl. “It was an acknowledgement of our winemaking and of the wine grapes grown here.”
Coco said 75-85 percent of Clearwater Canyon Cellars wine is produced with grapes from their vineyard and others nearby.
Recognition as Idaho Winery of the Year is just one more way Clearwater Canyon Cellars is drawing attention to our area. The company has also played a starring role in the resurgence of the valley’s wine industry and
upcoming establishment of the Lewis-Clark American Viticulture Area, a designation that will help promote our region as a producer of high-quality wines and as a wine tourism destination.
Karl and Coco Umiker
Photo by David Witthaus, Northwest Media Productions
Clearwater Canyon Cellars is a labor of love, a quintessential example of what it takes to build a small business from the ground up.
“I think our story proves with a lot of knowledge, know-how and true grit, you can do it,” said Coco.
Work was done by hand until this past year when the Umikers found enough wiggle room in their budget to invest in winemaking technologies like a mechanical press, flail mower and electric pruner.
The company started in 2004, when the Umikers produced their first four barrels while finishing school. Coco studied microbiology and biochemistry in undergrad at the University of Idaho and earned a Ph.D. in food science at Washington State University. Karl’s undergrad studies in chemistry at the University of Arkansas led to a Master’s in soil science from the University of Idaho.
All that hard work and education paid off. The Umikers have continually earned kudos for exquisite wines. The latest recognition as Idaho Winery of the Year is just “icing on the cake,” said Coco.
Clearwater Canyon Cellars was the only winery in the Pacific Northwest to have two wines place in the top 25 with Great Wines Northwest in 2014 – the 2012 Phinny Hill Vineyard Carmenère and the 2012 Merlot. The organization names the year’s top 100 out of over 5,000 wines tasted blind.
“That’s unbelievable,” said Coco. “It gets glossed over sometimes.”
The Carmenère also made the Seattle Times top 50 list in 2014.
And, the Carmenère won platinum and the Merlot won double platinum in 2014 from Wine Press Northwest in judging among gold medal winners from other competitions.
The Umikers sell out of the 3,000 cases produced annually, but despite this success, Coco says “making it” as a small business owner today isn’t easy.
She said having the ability to rent affordable space at the Port of Lewiston’s business incubator building has helped sustain their business. Clearwater Canyon began renting Suite A in 2007 and extended to Suite B in 2013. They are also utilizing storage space at Inland 465, the Port’s warehouse.
“Port employees and commissioners have served as great mentors. They have helped us troubleshoot space issues and equipment needs,” Coco said. “When we didn’t have a forklift, they let us use theirs. It’s the little things.”
In 2016 Clearwater Canyon Cellars plans to break ground on a new winery that will be located adjacent to their vineyard on Gun Club Road.
Southport Industrial Park ushered in great jobs
There were no guarantees when Blount (now Vista Outdoor) began efforts to expand into Department of Defense contracting that the new facility would locate in Lewiston.
The endeavor would bring new jobs, but required more acreage and a more remote location than the company’s Snake River plant could offer.
“We began detailed planning of a proposed facility in 1987 and looked at several sites in Washington and Idaho,” Darrel Inman said in an email.
Now retired, Inman was in charge of expanding Blount into DOD contracting.
“Transportation of component parts intra-plant was a major issue, as was the basic infrastructure required,” he said. “After contacting the city regarding our plans, we were referred to the Port, which took the lead on the project. With the
Port’s help, we settled on a potential site just south of the Lewiston airport.”
The Port worked with the City of Lewiston, Nez Perce County, private landowners and others to compile the necessary acreage and to develop infrastructure for Southport Industrial Park.
Today, the park is home to Howell Machine, Bentz Boats and the Idaho State Juvenile Detention Facility in addition to Vista Outdoor. Approximately 680 jobs are located in the park.
Additionally, Southport Industrial Park transferred entirely to private ownership in 2004, generating increased tax revenues for Nez Perce County.
“Our top job is to promote business growth, facilitate the private sector’s creation of good-paying local jobs and help connect local products with global markets,” said Mike Thomason, Port of Lewiston Commission president. “Southport Industrial Park is a success story that achieves all three of those goals.”
Port Commission Message
An ad appearing in the November 2, 1958 issue of the Lewiston Morning Tribune—two days before 80 percent of voters approved formation of the Port of Lewiston—stated, “A Port District for Nez Perce County means: industrial development, commercial expansion, population growth and increase in property values.”
Today, the Port continues to achieve this early mission.
We develop land for industrial and technology parks and infrastructure needed to support business growth. We also manage a business incubator program and building to help start-up companies.
These programs are highly successful. Property developments, like the Southport Industrial Park featured in this report, have added good-paying jobs and increased the local tax base. Our business incubator building has helped new businesses thrive. Clearwater Canyon Cellars is one of three tenants and the building is currently full.
Our new infrastructure project to install fiber optic cable throughout Lewiston will improve access to high speed Internet. This will increase business competitiveness and empower schools and residents.
The Port regularly partners with other agencies to improve our economy and quality of life. Our community grants program, which is available to communities throughout Nez Perce County, is one example. We recently provided $3,000 toward marketing the Lewis-Clark Valley
American Viticulture Area and $1,500 to help promote the City of Lapwai.
We are your advocates for local jobs in a global economy. In addition to the above-mentioned activities to promote job and business growth, a successful community must also facilitate the transportation of goods to and from the world market. This means preserving our multiuse river system, but also strengthening transportation options via rail, road and air. The Port of Lewiston is the only local public entity positioned to respond to the ebb and flow of transportation markets and support development of multimodal alternatives.
Fifty-seven years have passed since voters created the Port of Lewiston. We have a vibrant rural community that fared better than average through the Great Recession, largely due to the efforts from local private and public stakeholders to preserve and grow our economy. The future is bright. Thank you to Nez Perce County taxpayers for supporting the Port’s work in economic development, intermodal transportation and international trade.
Port’s FY16 budget focuses on economic development investments
Port Commissioners unanimously passed a $2.15 million FY16 budget that reduces the property tax levy by 5.14 percent while increasing investments in economic development.
“We worked hard to produce a budget that was fiscally conservative but also did not skimp on important projects needed to grow our local economy,” said Port Commission Secretary/Treasurer Mary Hasenoehrl. “This year’s spending toward economic development will include $420,000 from the property tax levy and an additional $998,600.”
Port Commission Vice President Jerry Klemm said one of the Port’s biggest projects this year is to install fiber optic infrastructure in order to improve high speed Internet access and redundancy in Lewiston.
“Our ability to attract and retain good-paying jobs is tied to our capacity for high speed Internet,” said Klemm. “It’s critical for businesses, schools and residents to thrive in the modern world.”
Commissioners earmarked $950,000 for the fiber project in FY16.
The second highest line item in Economic Development is $150,000 toward improving 18th Street N. The Port would partner with the Urban Renewal Agency and City of Lewiston to complete this project, which was the highest priority identified in the 2014 Northport Transportation Study.