14-year NBA veteran Channing Frye has been building the Chosen Family Wines team for three years. His team-first mentality is making him quickly successful in Oregon and in the wine industry. Now he’s adding exciting new wines and even more exciting new teammates.
By Sedale McCall
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” -African Proverb
Most know Channing Frye as an NBA champion. After being drafted by the New York Knicks in 2005, he went on to play for six teams, including the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2016, while in Cleveland, he was a part of the only team to win a championship when starting the series down 3-1.
However, it was in Portland, Oregon, where he caught the wine bug, just an hour’s drive away from the historic Willamette Valley. Once he retired in 2019, he jumped right in, and Chosen Family Wines was born in 2020. But unlike most brands, Channing used his inspiration for wine to build partnerships that would lead his brand to success.
“It’s hard for me to put my name on it and say ‘this is mine, I’m the best’,” says Frye. “I wouldn’t be as energized about wine if I wasn’t inspired by the people that we get to work with and have worked with.”
Adding to Chosen Family Wines
The collaboration is with Thomas specifically and is a 2021 Chardonnay from Eola Amity Hills. The grapes are organic in volcanic soils and spend ten months in French Oak and in tanks for five months. The wine has delicate floral and citrus aromas with bright acidity and freshness on the palate.
For Channing, the partnership is a win-win. He’s exposing the wine to his newer, younger fanbase while also bringing Lingua Franca to a new market.
“If you know wine and you know Oregon, you know Lingua Franca, you know Larry Stone,” says Frye. “But for the 40 and under market, the vineyard is far for them.”
Partnerships are key to the success of Chosen Family.
“We feel like the tide raises all boats. We don’t have a tasting room, so we can go everywhere and reach a new demographic,” says Frye. “Obviously, being a black man, I can’t justify my process of making wine just by me making wine. That’s not longevity. What is longevity is my ability, Chosen’s ability, to reach out to solidified winemakers and do a project with them. We’re not just supported by me and my name; we’re supported by winemakers who believe in what we’re doing and want to continue to not only grow their brand but the wine industry in general. ”
And the partnerships don’t just end with the wine. He has partnerships with The Roots Fund and Our Legacy Harvested (OLH) to continue to make the wine industry more inclusive. He’s also doubled down on that idea by hiring OLH founder Tiquette Bramlett as Vice President.
“When we started Chosen, I said, ‘if I’m going to be the face of this and majority owner, there are certain things.’ These are not just responsibilities; these are gifts that we have to bestow on the world. Being able to work with those two powerful women [The Roots Fund founder Ikimi Dubose-Woodson and Tiquette Bramlett] has made me better, more responsible about how I’m approaching our business and what we want to do in the future,” says Frye. “It feels so good to be a part of our group. We’ve built the house. It’s time for us to take a step back and allow Tiquette to take our dream and make it better. She’s a strong, powerful black woman who exudes leadership and has done so many things. I’m really proud that she’s going to now represent us in what we’re doing.”
Bramlett adds, “They’re really bringing in community which is very exciting. It allows me to bring in my OLH perspective and figure out how we have the opportunity to engage with everybody and make this approachable wine at all levels, which I think is really special.”
Bramlett, the first black woman to run a winery in a major wine region, is using Chosen Family and her organization to continue putting Oregon wine on the map.
“All of my worlds are colliding now. I grew up in a basketball family. Channing was in AAU, and his team played against my dad’s team. Being a part of a family that’s community-driven, building OLH and the wine world I love so much, all of it has come together. And if we can be the gateway drug for Oregon Pinot Noir, I am here for it!”
Get the Wines
Chosen’s new wines are available at chosenfamilywines.com, with members granted first access to all new releases. Chosen Family Wines offers three levels of membership, with shipments offered bi-annually. The releases are available for a Collab 4-Pack priced at $300. They their 2021 L’Angolo x Chosen Family Pinot Noir, 2021 Lingua Franca x Chosen Family Chardonnay, 2020 Hazelfern x Chosen Family Syrah, and 2021 Salty Goats x Chosen Family Pinot Noir.