|8/6/2013 12:59:00 PM|
Vineyard owners pioneer agriculture for the 21st century
By Jim Cornelius
|Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards and Events Center is becoming a center for agritourism. photo provided|
Cindy Grossmann and her husband, Roger, are enjoying their "retirement" - working seven days a week, often 16 hours a day to make their Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards and Events Center one of the signature enterprises of Sisters Country.
"It's very worth it," says Cindy. "We're building a very wonderful industry."
Located in the picturesque ranchlands of the Lower Bridge area east of Sisters, Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards and Events Center is a working vineyard with a tasting room; a venue for music events and farm-to-table dinners; and an especially romantic setting for weddings.
Many folks react with incredulity at the idea of growing grapes in the notoriously fickle Central Oregon climate. But Cindy Grossmann hails originally from Minnesota, and she knows if wine grapes can be grown successfully there, it can be done here.
"It's planted in cold-hardy hybrid grapes," she explained. "I believe that's the road to success. You have to plant grapes that will grow here. They are tough plants."
Fifteen acres of the 312-acre property were planted in 2010 in La Crescent; St. Croix; Marechal Foch; Vignoles; Frontenac Gris; Traminette; Marquette; LaCrosse; Leon Millot. The Grossmans also manage Monkey Face Vineyard near Smith Rock, planted in 2006.
The grapes also do well in the region's short growing season. In fact, Central Oregon actually has some advantages when it comes to producing a quality wine from these cold-hardy grapes. Hot days followed by cool nights "make the grapes produce a really nice wine," Cindy explains.
Training and protecting the grape vines is labor-intensive, and the harvest time is intense. They harvest all day and load the grapes onto trucks.
"That same night we drive to Medford with them," Cindy says. "We pick all day, we drive all night and in the morning we go through crush and press."
Crushing and pressing is conducted at Pallet Wine Co.
Eventually, those operations will be brought home to Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards.
That's part of the Grossmans' vision, which includes a guest ranch and compatible forms of agriculture that will ultimately create a center for agritourism in the region. Such operations are regarded as a means of keeping farm and ranch operations viable, by attracting guests interested in rural recreation and education.
"We do everything sustainable and natural," Cindy says. "The vineyard itself is a teaching tool."
The 312-acre ranch is comprised of nine parcels, some of which are for sale. The Grossmans hope to see compatible operations and homesites on the available properties, and they are also actively seeking investors to help realize the vision.
Cindy has the background and expertise to make her vision real. A general contractor and developer, she had a well-established business in the Midwest before a series of twists-of-fate landed her and Roger in a hidden valley in Sisters Country.
She was raised in the hospitality industry in Ely, Minnesota, which is where she met Roger, first as a guest at her parents resort and then working as a fishing guide taking parties into Canada.
"We had a summer romance, and he took me to Chicago - west of Chicago," she recalls.
Roger was a rep in the hardware business, and Cindy built a specialty business in the real estate field, creating Victorian homes that were more than just a style - they strongly evoked the gaslight era.
"You wouldn't know that you weren't walking into a turn-of-the-century home, except that you had all the modern conveniences," she says.
Her own home was so attractive that she received an extraordinary offer, even though it wasn't for sale. She and Roger bit, and they found themselves poised for a change. The couple had passed through Sunriver in 1997, and they decided Central Oregon would be a great fit for retirement.
In January of 2000, after dropping their daughter and son at WSU, Cindy headed down to Central Oregon in search of a rental. She was stopped in Redmond because of a winter storm and black ice on Highway 97. So Redmond it was, and after finding a rental she and Roger packed up and headed west to begin their retirement. After settling in, Cindy and Roger began looking for a 20-acre parcel to build their retirement home, but a drive down Lower Bridge to the Lower Valley and driving into the 312-acre ag parcel sealed their fate.
This was it. And they were not retired anymore.
"I started building homes again," she says, including some in Sisters.
She started researching crops that could be not only viable but profitable in Central Oregon, and she hit upon cold-hardy grapes. She had no background in the wine business, but with her customary intensity, she set out in 2005-06 to learn everything she could about the subject. By 2010, the Grossmans had acreage planted in grapes.
Now, in 2013, Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards and Events Center is thriving. They have three full-time employees and a fluctuating roster of part-time hands who work the vineyards and help to stage events and weddings. The 15-acre vineyard will be producing it's first full crop next year. Faith, Hope and Charity has bottled 2010, 2011 and 2012 single-variety wines from Central Oregon grapes they have harvested at Monkey Face Vineyard under Smith Rock. They also source grapes from the Columbia Valley and Southern Oregon to supplement their supply. Plans are in place to plant an additional 15 acres of grapes in the spring of 2014 bringing them to 34 acres of grapes under their management in Central Oregon with 19 acres producing next year.
Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards has also become a highly regarded music venue.
On Thursday, August 8, the vineyard hosts the High Street Band from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Call 541-526-5075 to purchase advance tickets.
For more information on Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards and Events Center, visit www.faithhopeandcharityevents.com.
Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Article comment by:
Check out this wonderful video about the Grossman's "Save Water Save Energy" project - and listen to Cindy describe her total operation http://www.savewatersaveenergy.org/home/agy/cpage_7/about_swse.html
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