Behind The Scenes

Hammers, Fire, and the Best Forged Handles Ever

At Sommi Wine Cellars, we live for the details, and one of our favorites is our cellar's hand-forged handles and latches made by Orion Forge in Bend, Oregon. 

Orion Forge is one of a dwindling number of true blacksmiths remaining in the U.S., and it’s a distinction they're passionate about. 

“What we do is pretty unusual these days. There are lots of welding shops around that do wrought iron work. They’re not blacksmiths. They’re using tools from a catalog to make wrought iron — you can buy any number of cool scrolls that were forged somewhere (probably in China) and weld them all together.” says Hunter Dahlberg, owner and blacksmith.

Hunter buys the the steel for each Sommi Wine Cellar, scaling it for the project and specific dimensions, and then they heat it up, give it a texture using heat and pressure — which might mean hammering by hand or using their mechanical shop hammer that bangs up and down 150 times a minute — and punch the holes for the rivets.

"We’ve joked that the pieces we’re forging have a seven-generation lifetime — as long as they’re protected, they’re going to last a long-time, and there’s a tactility you just don’t get with wrought iron. When you see a real forged metal handle, people definitely respond to it.” 

We know we do, and we love helping clients customize their cellars with a different finish on their handles to make each one really fit with their space and style.

We recently had a chance to visit Hunter at his forge in Bend, where he was working on handles for an upcoming Sommi cellar project, in addition to forged bike racks for the Deschutes Brewery (which we can’t wait to see in action next time we’re in town!). 

Standing in the studio, warmed by the flames radiating from the forge and watching Hunter at work surrounded by tools that range in age from a hundred years old to brand new, you get a sense of the time and craft that goes into each piece and how unique each one is — a lot like the wines we and our clients are so passionate about. And that’s something we’ll definitely raise a glass to.

Meet The Makers

Each Sommi Wine Cellar is one-of-a-kind, using high-quality materials and local woods. But what makes them unlike any wine cellar or fridge on the market is the craftsmanship and personal attention from our partners, Makers Woodworks. Using our design and engineering along with 75 years of combined experience in fine woodworking, they bring each cellar from design specs to reality. 

Makers Woodworks is Garrett Michael, Justin Appel and Dan McCarl, a trio of Northwest natives who make beautiful hand-crafted furniture and cabinetry. Last week we stopped by their shop to hang out and show a behind-the-scenes peek of how Sommi Wine Cellars are made.

Justin says, “The concept of using reclaimed materials that are up to 100 years old, with the forged hardware is a goregous combination, and each cellar is going to be a little different because of the client’s needs and space, which is always a fun ride.” 

Spending time in their space and talking to them, you can tell their work is their passion — they talk about wood and the materials like a favorite family member, and when we asked about dream projects, both Garrett and Justin talked about building their own homes from the ground up. 

“Even after all these years, you see wood that jumps out at you at the yard, and it’s so interesting. We look at the grain, the color variation and the character — it’s so variable, it’s just amazing,” says Garrett.

And as for that crucial question — what wines are they drinking? 

“I’ve been enjoying the bigger red wines - the Cabs, and Malbecs — but there’s so much to offer here in the Northwest from the Gorge all the way over to the other side in Yamhill County,” says Garrett.

We can’t wait to see what comes out of their studio next. Thank you Makers! Check out more of their work at MakersWoodworks.com