• Walla Walla’s Blue Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop as Shane Erickson pours wine for guests on the patio at Floating Balance Cellars.

Floating Balance Cellars: This Winery Is A Balance of Science,
Art and Time for Owners David Kreindel and Shane Erickson

For now, Kreindel and Erickson intend to keep their production in small batches,
well below 1,000 cases annually and firmly in the “micro-boutique” category.

Story and Photos by Dan Radil

With virtually no experience in the wine industry, Shane Erickson (left) and David Kreindel, jumped into the business with both feet, first buying Walla Walla’s Aria Vineyard in 2020, then launching Floating Balalce Cellars in mid-2022.

When most people move to another city, they often assimilate into their new surroundings by joining clubs, volunteering for social service organizations, or simply connecting with others through co-workers and mutual friends.

David Kreindel and Shane Erickson, owners of Floating Balance Cellars, took more of an unconventional approach to “blending in” while transitioning from Western Washington to Eastern Washington’s wine-centric Walla Walla.

With virtually no prior experience in the wine industry, they purchased Aria Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley in 2020, and retired there shortly thereafter.

“The whole idea of having a vineyard was really appealing,” recalls Kreindel, “and one of the reasons we were excited about it was that being in the wine community in Walla Walla was a way for us to meet people and be part of that community.”

“We found the property in 2019 and when we saw the view and the sheer beauty of the place, we said, ‘this will be the best decision we’ve made or the worst, but we’re going to buy it.’ We jumped in with both feet and felt we’d figure it out.”


Kreindel is originally from Southern California. He earned a degree in French and a minor in Italian at California State University and worked in the international tourism and hotel sales industries during his career. He was first introduced to wine while a foreign exchange student in France.

Erickson grew up in Lewiston, Idaho, and earned a degree in Food Services at Washington State University. He worked in the food and beverage manufacturing sectors and retail food safety.

The two met about 40 years ago, shortly after Erickson graduated from WSU and began working as a production supervisor for a cannery in Walla Walla in the early 1980s. Although he notes that it wasn’t a glamorous job by any stretch, living in the Walla Walla area made an impression on him.

“He never stopped talking about it as long as I’ve known him,” Kreindel said with a smile. “I like to say he brainwashed me by always saying, we should visit there; we should go there.”

It may have taken a few decades, but after first living in Montana and then another 23 years in Bellevue, WA., the purchase of the vineyard cemented their plans to build a home on the property and finally make the move to Walla Walla.


The ultra-modern tasting room at Floating Balance Cellars that overlooks Aria Vineyard opened to the public on the weekend of May 3-5, 2024.

“After we took over the vineyard and found out how expensive it was to maintain, we decided we better start a winery because we need to support the vineyard,” says Kreindel. “We’re learning a lot of lessons, but the tuition hasn’t been too high,” he adds with a chuckle.

Floating Balance Cellars was established in mid-2022. The winery name has ties to Erickson’s three-decades plus membership in the National Watch & Clock Association.

“We were trying to come up with a clock-themed or time-themed name,” Erickson recalls. “We settled on ‘Floating Balance,’ an innovation in 1956 – the same year I was born – that allows mechanical clocks to operate without needing a pendulum;” a balance of science, art, and time, so to speak.

“The name really goes with our wine, a floating balance of flavors and colors, as well as the label art which is a balance of light and design. There are many metaphors,” adds Kreindel.

The vibrant colors of the winery’s labels are the work of local artist, Frankie Laufer. Kreindel says he reached out to Laufer after seeing his work on Instagram.

“I was really drawn to what he was doing. Frankie’s art is a perfect complement to our wine,” Kreindel says.

Kreindel and Erickson also landed Lagana Cellars’ co-owners and winemakers Todd Bernave and Jason Fox as joint winemakers for Floating Balance Cellars’ wines. Lagana is also based in Walla Walla.

Erickson recalls the initial connection to Fox took place in the fall of 2020, when Erickson did some cold calling in the local wine community to put out the word that Aria had grapes to sell.

While Fox wasn’t contacted directly, he heard through the Walla Walla grapevine that there were some amazing grapes at the vineyard and the new owners might be interested in a custom crush.

“Jason reached out to us, and said, ‘yeah, I can do that; I’ll help you,’ and he sent over his truck and picked up the grapes,” says Kreindel.

“Jason and Todd still make our wines today and they do a great job for us,” he says, adding that he and Erickson hope to keep the winemaking pair “for as long as they’ll let us.”

Kreindel and Erickson contribute their own talents to what they refer to as their new, ‘more-than-full-time jobs’ as part of the Floating Balance team; Kreindel handles most of the winery’s accounting and marketing, while Erickson says, “I’m the ideas guy. I’m more technical and more involved with the vineyard.”


The labels affixed to every bottle of Floating Balance Cellars wine capture the  essence of what the wine and the winery are all about — perfectly balanced in every way.

Aria Vineyard’s original plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were completed in 1996 and 1997 by the now defunct Basel Cellars. Two acres of Albariño were added by Kreindel and Erickson in early 2023, bringing the total estate vineyard to 11.5 planted acres. The Albariño should be ready for its inaugural harvest in 2025.

Floating Balance also produces a Pinot Noir Rosé, which is sourced from the Walla Walla Valley’s Breezy Slope Vineyard and a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from Oasis Vineyard in Prosser.

By all accounts, the winery is off to a great start, and they’ve already picked up a handful of awards including a 94-point/Double Gold medal at the 2023 Pacific Northwest Wine Competition for their gorgeous, velvety 2020 Estate Merlot.

On the horizon is a white wine blend, “Fourth Dimension,” scheduled for release in late spring of 2024. Erickson says they took the lead on producing the wine (he’s completed his certifications in Enology and Viticulture from WSU) but will still rely on Fox and Bernave to continue making Floating Balance’s other wines.

For now, Kreindel and Erickson intend to keep their production in small batches, well below 1,000 cases annually and firmly in the “micro-boutique” category.

“We’re going to keep things small,” says Kreindel. “The whole idea for us is that it has to be fun. We want to enjoy the people that come and enjoy our wines. We’re never going to be a big player.

“We’re finding that people like to discover something new, something different, and that’s our niche. And the fact that they can come here and be out in the vineyard makes it authentic; it makes us a little more exclusive in a very accessible way.”

With the rural setting of the Walla Walla Valley as their backdrop, Kreindel and Erickson seem to have indeed found their niche, and the perfect setting for a winery, a home, and a friendly, welcoming place with a “new to the neighborhood” feel.

“We’re in a town that really has enough of everything you need,” says Erickson. “Walla Walla has a tremendous sense of community, and you don’t find that everywhere. They’ve been unbelievably supportive (of the winery).”

The Grand Opening of the Floating Balance tasting room was held on the weekend of May 3-5, 2024.

One of the best ways to enjoy Floating Balance wines is by joining the winery’s Hourglass Wine Club.  Club members enjoy more advantages while saving on wine purchases.

  • 10% discount on all wine or merchandise purchased.
  • Your choice of wines with each shipment (minimum of 3 bottles, twice a year).  Offering maximum flexibility.
  • Flat rate shipping ($20 in WA or $25 outside of WA) or pick up at the vineyard.
  • 9-plus bottles qualify for free shipping.
  • 15% discount on orders of 12-plus bottles

Membership is free and renews annually – early cancellation incurs a fee of $50.

Floating Balance Cellars is located at 2100 Stateline Road, Walla Walla, WA., 99362.  Phone: (509) 520-3869.  For more information about the winery, visit: www.floatingbalance.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dan Radil is a freelance wine writer and educator based in Walla Walla, WA., and has been an avid follower and supporter of the Washington wine industry since the mid-1980s. He currently produces a wine blog called danthewineguy.