The woman behind the wine

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Most college students show up for a party with their favorite, cheap beer, ready to share. But not Shelly, she often appeared at gatherings with a bottle of wine in hand, almost always a red, often a pinot noir.

“Pinot noir has been a favorite of mine for years,” she said. “I love a good cab too, but I always seem to come back to the pinot.”

Shelly Crawford and her husband, Scott, are the proud owners of Coeur d’Alene’s newest winery, Castaway Cellars, located in the Resort Plaza Shops. Inspired by their love of the outdoors, Castaway Cellars is a product of many years of experimentation, hard work, and some of the best grapes from the region.

“We’ve shared a passion for wine for a very long time, although Scott started out as more of a beer guy,” Crawford said. “We started making wine from home as a hobby. I didn’t decide to pursue it as a career until my kids were in school full time.”

The 43-year-old mother of three originally worked in information technology in western Washington, and met her now husband, originally from Pennsylvania, as a fluke while visiting her hometown of Missoula, Montana. They hit it off after sitting down at the same table in a local pub and have been together ever since. The couple relocated to Coeur d’Alene in 2006 when Scott opened his own chiropractic office in Post Falls. As all three children entered elementary school, Crawford found herself wanting to continue her education and get back to her career in IT, but her love for winemaking pulled her in another direction.

“In comparing the time and costs for the IT program I was interested in, and the viticulture and enology program at Washington State University, I realized they’d take me about the same amount of time,” Crawford said. “I decided to follow my passion, something I would have fun doing everyday.”

While completing the program, Crawford continued to make wine from her home, and eventually graduated into more space with the help of Steve Meyer, the owner of Pend d’Oreille Winery in Sandpoint, and then to their current location at Smasne Cellars in Prosser, Washington.

“It has been so great to work with both Steve and now Robert Smasne as we get Castaway off the ground,” Crawford said. “Robert is one of the top winemakers in Washington state, and has been a great mentor during this process.”

Balancing family life, the wine bar, and harvest season is a new challenge for Crawford, having to be away for two to three days each week throughout the fall. As harvest season comes to a close, Crawford is looking forward to winter, and some new releases to their collection.

“We’re really excited to release our merlot later this month, just in time for Thanksgiving,” she said. “We also have a great seasonal menu that features locally sourced greens, breads, chocolates, as well as some new dinner specials.”

Crawford is excited about the growth of their winery and is looking forward to the day Castaway Cellars has it’s very own location. In the meantime, Crawford is enjoying the small downtown space and the energy that surrounds it.

“It’s fun to participate in the downtown events. It’s been a great experience here so far,” she said. “Of course we want to offer exceptional wines to our customers, but we also want to provide a warm, inviting experience. It’s a local, family-owned business, so we want that to translate into the experience.”

Castaway Cellars is located at 210 Sherman Ave., suite 161. You can also find their wines at Pilgrim’s Market, Flame and Cork, Paragon Brewery, Rustic, and Hay J. Bistro.

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