Most people would probably think deciding to start a winery is something you do after many years of planning, saving, and learning about the craft of wine-making. Well, sometimes it happens a little differently. Jim and Karen grew up in the great outdoors of Alaska, enjoying a country few people get to see for extended periods of time. Jim Waite, in Anchorage, and Karen Viale, in Seward, never dreamed how their futures would become intertwined, then slowly point them to Walla Walla where they would join with son, Joel, to start CAVU Cellars.
Jim had never really thought much about going to college. Getting outdoors in Alaska occupied much of his time and thoughts. So, it wasn’t until the end of his high school senior year, when a friend asked if he was going to college, that he really considered it. “Come to the U of A in Fairbanks”, his friend said. So, Jim went home that evening and told his stunned parents that was what he was going to do. And somehow, it happened. Enrolled at the University of Alaska, just outside Fairbanks, he was studying to be a geologist, but two years of the ROTC program was mandatory at that land-grant college. Two years and done, for sure….until the ROTC director enticed him into the flight program where he earned his private pilot’s license while flying into many of the small airfields in central Alaska. This committed him to entering the Army after his graduation and commissioning as a 2nd lieutenant. Certainly, this was a direction in his life he had never considered until it just sort of happened. After all, he was earning his B.S. in Geology. He was going to be a bush pilot, discovering the treasures of Alaska while working for the Alaska Highway Department as a geologist, helping build the roads the young State so desperately needed. A career in the Army? Hah, hah, hah. Not this kid.