Local winery celebrates ‘virtual opening’ amid COVID-19 restrictions

WAPATO, Wash. — After years of planning and preparation, Emily and Lee Fergestrom are finally opening their first winery in Wapato but due to COVID-19 restrictions, they’ve had to be creative in how they celebrate

Fortuity Cellars is holding a virtual opening Friday night via Facebook Live; it’ll have music, a tour of the winery and wine, for those locals wanting to pick it up curbside or have it delivered.

“People can come and pick up their wine if they want, they can drink wine that they already have: ours or anyone else’s,” Lee Fergestrom said. “Hopefully,  Washington wine, hopefully Yakima.”

Former American Idol contestant and Pacific Northwest singer-songwriter Britnee Kellogg will be performing live at the winery about 10 minutes after the party starts at 7 p.m. The winery will be giving away swag from the winery and Kellogg during the show.

While the virtual opening is free, those interested in supporting the winery can buy a $7.50 ticket and get a coupon for 15% off a purchase of wine.

“You’re invited to our ‘We’re Not Going to Let the Coronavirus Stop Us from Celebrating Virtual Winery Opening Party’ – aka Fortuity’s Virtual Opening Party!” the website reads.

Locals can pick up a package with a bottle of Fortuity Cellars wine and a charcuterie board from Abundant Tables for $40 to $45 at the winery, 160 Lombard Loop Road in Wapato.

“Put aside, for just an hour or so, everything else going on in the world,” the website reads. “Whether you are a Yakima area local or remote across the country or world, we invite you to party with us.”

The couple’s dream of becoming vinters started in 2016; Emily wanted to get back to her West Valley roots and Lee was looking for a change after working the tech and start-up scene.

In 2017, the pair bottled their first wines with the help of Two Mountain Winery. Soon after, they moved into a wine incubator at Yakima Valley College and continued to grow their business.

The couple broke ground on the winery in June 2019; now, after more than nine months of construction, permits and preparation, the building is ready.

Emily and Lee didn’t plan to have their opening during a pandemic or under a stay at home order, but they’re making the best of it.

“[The hardest part is] the uncertainty … Just not knowing when this is gonna be over,” Emily Fergestrom said.

She said it’s been hard keeping up momentum and coming up with creative ways to make sure people know they’re still open and that they offer delivery within Yakima County and curbside pickup.

One way Fortuity Cellars is looking to connect with the community is by donating $15 vouchers for wine purchases or tastings to healthcare workers fighting on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.

Anyone who knows a doctor, nurse, first responder or other essential worker can nominate them here.