A Seismic Shift at Volcano Vineyards: After half a decade downtown, big changes are in store for one of Bend's leading micro-wineries | Chow | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

A Seismic Shift at Volcano Vineyards: After half a decade downtown, big changes are in store for one of Bend's leading micro-wineries 

The irony of two people who lived and worked for many years in the heart of California's grape-growing region deciding to start a winery only after relocating to a city nearly 4000 feet in elevation with a two-month frost-free growing season is not lost on Scott and Liz Ratcliff, owners of Bend's Volcano Vineyards. But as winemakers, not growers, Central Oregon's proximity to the Northwest's fine wine areas, along with a smart business plan, is helping turn that ironic move into a very bright idea.

Volcano, one of a handful of the region's "micro-wineries," permanently closed its downtown tasting room last month and will be opening a bottling and blending facility in the redeveloped Century Center on Century Drive in late October. While the tasting room was popular, the couple decided to focus on wine production instead of maintaining the shop's long hours. In addition to bottling and blending the Volcano label wine, the Ratcliffs plan to start a new, lower-priced label called "Magma," with bottles priced in the $10 - $15 range. They will also bottle their popular Sangrias and plan to also sell boxed wines.

The benefit of not having to maintain regular tasting room hours is that Ratcliff will now offer free tastings to those who schedule an appointment, instead of the previous $5 charge. Ratcliff will also give wine tastings directly from the barrel, as they are now being aged in-house.

The Ratcliffs grew up in wine-loving families and met while working as waiters in San Francisco. The Bend relocation occurred in 2001 and they barreled their first wine in 2003. Two years later, after the product was sufficiently aged and bottled, Volcano Vineyards was born. That year, they produced 250 cases of wine. Today, they are best known for their award-winning single-vineyard Syrahs and Merlots as well as their fun, easy-drinking sangrias. This year, the Ratcliffs will produce nearly 1500 cases and their new facility will enable even more growth.

The Ratcliffs, like many other winemakers based in difficult growing climates, purchase grapes from the Rogue Valley and utilize the excess production capacity of nearby southern Oregon wineries for crushing and barreling their wine. Scott, the hands-on master winemaker, oversees every aspect of the process. Using a "host" winery for production has allowed them to allocate their startup resources to the important things: namely, procuring top quality grapes and barrels. It's a business model not unusual to the wine industry, but most commonly associated with Jim Koch at Samuel Adams, the Boston-based beer maker who contracted with existing breweries to make his first lagers until building his own facility.

Liz explains that Volcano will continue to crush and barrel their premium wines in the Rogue Valley for the time being, but bottle and produce their blends and Sangrias locally. Plus, the new facility will enable them to look more realistically toward growing their company - the Ratcliffs are eyeing other larger spaces in the Century Center for possible future expansion and are in talks with local grape growers in the Culver-Terrebonne area. Century Center also increases the Ratcliff's event possibilities. The location, which recently hosted the heavily attended Bend Roots Festival, promises other new ventures, including Noble Brewing Company. With the Ratcliff's tenancy, it seems like a facility ready-made for community events.

Volcano will not open immediately with regular hours, but tours and tastings can be scheduled by appointment. Liz explains that the move is the next step on their path to their notion of an "urban winery," a facility that brings the spirit of the vineyard to a downtown setting.

"Closing the tasting room was hard," she says. "We loved being there. But it's all about manpower. It's only Scott and I. It's time to return to what we love and what is most important, and that's production." When questioned about the prospect of attempting to grow their own grapes, she confessed with a little laugh, "That's farming... and I'm a plant killer! We'll stick to what we're good at."

Volcano Vineyards

The Century Center

1355 SW Commerce Ave


Tasting and Tours By Appointment

About The Author

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat

Deschoops - Downtown Bend

Sun., June 26, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Chow

More by Administrator

  • Fresh Poop Delivered Straight From the Newsroom to You

    Monday, Sept. 12 The Compassion of Conservatives: Crowd at Tea Party-sponsored Republican presidential debate cheers suggestion that a man in coma should be allowed to die if he doesn't have health insurance .
    • Sep 21, 2011
  • Meet the Koch Brothers

    According to Rolling Stone, at a recent plutocrat's gathering, one of the Koch Brothers, heavy financers of the Tea Party "movement," called President Obama, "Saddam Hussein." Rolling Stone claims to have it on tape.
    • Sep 21, 2011
  • Big End-of-Summer Straight Poop Sale - Stock Up Now!

    Monday, Sept. 5 Tell us how you really feel, Jimmy: Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa Jr., warming up Labor Day crowd in Detroit for President Obama, rips into Tea Party: "Let's take these sons of bitches out" ... Tea Partiers wail about "violent" rhetoric ... In tepid follow-up, Obama promises to support collective bargaining, challenges Congress to pass his forthcoming jobs plan ... Euro-trashed: European stock markets and value of Euro plunge on concerns over safety of banks ... Postage due: US Postal Service nearing default, facing deficit of $9.2 billion ... Well, at least somebody's having a good year: Hollywood scores record-breaking summer, posting box office revenues of $4.4 billion. Tuesday, Sept. 6 Following the money: Super PAC called "Make Us Great Again" plans to spend $55 million to snag GOP presidential nomination for Texas Gov. Rick Perry ... In tape obtained by Mother Jones magazine, right-wing billionaire Charles Koch tells attendees at secret seminar for fellow fat cats that "we have Saddam Hussein" in the White House and 2012 elections will be "the mother of all wars" ... Speaking of dangerous reptiles: Hunters in Agusan del Sur, Philippines, catch 21-foot saltwater crocodile, think there are even bigger ones out there ... Hello, goodbye: Carol Bartz ousted as CEO of Yahoo; tells employees via email, "I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's chairman of the board," Roy Bostock ... Calling Det. Axel Foley: Eddie Murphy, who made some funny movies in the 1980s, to host 2012 Academy Awards show, first time for him.
    • Sep 14, 2011
  • More »

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2022 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation