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Central Oregon vineyard proves region can make great wine

LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
W

hen they took their daughter to look at colleges, Cindy and Roger Grossmann got a very short introduction to Central Oregon. But like many transplants' first visits, it made enough of an impact on them that years later, after selling their Chicago home, it was here they sought acreage on which to retire on.

The idea was to find a 20-acre property—but the Grossmanns ended up falling in love with a piece of land 312 acres in size, in Terrebonne—now known as Faith Hope & Charity Vineyards. So much for retirement!

From her resort and property development background, Cindy Grossman knew it had good farm land and water rights. She dreamed about growing grapes—a romantic crop known for its agrotourism, or ability to bring visitors to a farm or ranch.

The Grossmanns had no previous wine making or vineyard experience so their first task was to educate themselves, working with Oregon State University and the Southern Oregon Wine Institute. The growing season in Central Oregon is really short, with the beginning and end seeing freezing temperatures overnight, so the Grossmans found a cold-hardy French-American hybrid grape that thrives in the region. A major benefit to growing grapes in Central Oregon: you don't have to worry about mold and insects, so FHC doesn't have to spray its vines. Five years after buying the property, the couple planted their first grapes.

LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
W

ine making takes patience. After the 2010 planting it wasn't until 2015 and 2016 that FHC could harvest some of their grapes. While they were waiting for their vines to mature, they purchased grapes from other Oregon growers. This will be the first year they have a really successful crop, the Grossmanns tell me.

click to enlarge LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe

Waiting for its own crop hasn't kept FHC from producing award-winning wines. Among the awards: a Gold Medal for the 2013 Vignoles from The Sunset International Wine Competition, where the wine was up against 6,000 competitors. FHC also won a platinum award for the LaCrescent from the Northwest Wine and Food Competition in Portland.

To get a taste of the wines, head to the vineyard, a gorgeous property offering incredible views of the Sisters mountain range. The tasting room has rounded German architecture, and the interior's wooden garage doors open to the outdoors on beautiful days. There's also an elegant garden with a pond, waterfalls and a patio made for long table wine dinners.

In addition to flights and wines by the glass, order lunch from the simple, flavorful menu created by Chef Luke Huntzinger. Driven by local ingredients, the offerings include seasonal salads, polenta, wood-fired pizzas and desserts. I tried the heirloom tomato salad with housemate ricotta, arugula, crispy croutons and a bacon vinaigrette. The sweet, in-season tomatoes were bright and tangy and the croutons added the right amount of crunch to the salad. It reminded me of a deconstructed bruschetta.

LISA SIPE
  • Lisa Sipe
N

ext I sampled the wood-fired pizza, ordering half seasonal and and half veggie. The pizza's bubbly crust was super crispy and full-flavored. As I took bites from each type of pizza it was really hard to pick a favorite. The veggie had tangy tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted bell pepper, local squash, creamy herbed cheese and a Frontenac peach reduction. The seasonal pizza, with different ingredients, had the same effect on my palate. It was topped with pumpkin puree, asiago cheese, sage forward house made sausage, fresh blueberries and mustard greens. My tastebuds were pushed back and forth between the sweet and savory flavors.

I also tried the pumpkin tart for dessert. With our cold shift in weather it seemed like the perfect time to eat pumpkin. I expected the dessert to be a hand-made version of a pumpkin spice latte, but I was wrong. It was much more interesting. The tart was topped with ricotta and filled with whole, roasted pieces of pumpkin. The flavor in the spices bloomed after I tasted the squash. It was a lovely way to end my meal.

This is a great time of year to visit the vineyard, the vines are heavy with ripe fruit. Keep an eye on their event calendar, they are expected to be harvesting any day now—an opportunity to join in the harvest while also getting some delightful lunch and wine.

Faith Hope and Charity Vineyards

70450 NW Lower Valley Rd, Terrebonne

541-526-5075

Mon-Thurs Noon-5pm, Sat Noon-9pm,

Sun 11am-5pm

faithhopeandcharityevents.com


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