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Yes, you can grow wine grapes in Central Oregon!
And, produce award-winning wine from those grapes!
The Story behind Faith, Hope, and Charity Vineyards
After retiring and finding themselves with 312 acres of agricultural land, Roger and Cindy Grossmann embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. What crop could they plant on this farm that would combine Central Oregon’s tourism with the beautiful agricultural land in Terrebonne (the French word for Good Earth) at the base of the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range, specifically the Three Sisters, which is our namesake: Faith, Hope, and Charity?
We have a beautiful south-facing slope with well-drained sandy loam soil. Our climate is a very dry high desert climate with hot summer days and cool summer days. We have a large producing well for drip irrigation, cover crop irrigation, as well as overhead frost protection. With late spring frosts and early fall frosts and only an average of 90 growing days in Central Oregon, we need to be prepared to treat our grapes differently than in other growing regions. Our overhead frost protection system is able to protect our grapes during bud break and harvest when our temperatures may drop below 32 degrees.
This brought us to the decision to grow Cold Hardy Wine Grapes.
The University of Minnesota and Cornell in New York are the pioneers in the research on these grapes.
What Is a Cold Hardy Hybrid Grape?
Hybrid grapes are grape varieties that are the product of a crossing of two or more Vitis species. This is in contrast to crossings between grape varieties of the same species, typically Vitis vinifera, the European grapevine. Hybrid grapes are also referred to as inter-specific crossings or “Modern Varieties.”
Due to their often excellent tolerance to powdery mildew, other fungal diseases, nematodes, and phylloxera, hybrid varieties have to some extent become a renewed focus for European breeding programs. The recently developed varieties, Rondo, and Regent are examples of newer hybrid grape varieties for European Viticulturists. Several North American breeding programs, such as those at Cornell and the University of Minnesota, focus exclusively on hybrid grapes, with active and successful programs, having created hundreds if not thousands of new varieties.
In 2010, after much research, we planted several varieties in our 15-acre vineyard.
Today those grapes include:
Reds: Marquette, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch, Frontenac
Whites: LaCrescent, Vignole, Frontenac Gris, La Crosse
Our first estate harvest was in 2015. In 2017 we had our first large harvest with approximately 10 ton of grapes. One ton of grapes results in approximately 160 gallons of wine or 2.7 barrels, and each barrel produces about 25 cases. So our 2017 harvest will produce around 675 cases of Faith Hope and Charity Vineyards Estate grown wine.
We also source grapes from the Columbia Valley AVA through our winemaker Rick Mafit. Those wines include our Merlot and Barbera (in Washington, just across the Columbia River off the 97), and our Syrah and Zinfandel (just south of the Dalles on the Oregon side).
Our Pinot Noir and Rose of Pinot Noir are from Rick’s vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills AVA, south-east of the town of McMinnville.
We also source grapes from the Rogue Valley AVA made by our winemaker Linda Donovan. They include our Viognier, Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.