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Volcano Vineyards Blog

Blog by and about Volcano Vineyards, an Orgeon micro-winery based in Central Orgeon's Bend. We specialize in producing Rhone varietals.

Last Build Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2014 01:23:58 +0000


A Virtual Tour of Volcano Vineyards

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 19:38:00 +0000

We met AMZ Productions owner Jesse Locke in the tasting room over the summer and have been working with him on a series of videos, featuring harvest 2011, the winery and the tasting room. Check 'em out!


Harvest 2011:

The Winery:


Our Bend Winery Opening October 2010!

Fri, 03 Sep 2010 17:32:00 +0000

But, we will be closing the Downtown Bend Tasting Lounge at the end of September. Sooooo sad to leave Downtown, but in order to move the company forward, we decided to get back to basics and focus on production of our Volcano wines and our Magmita Sangrias. Our Bend winery will be located in the new Century Center off of 14th Street (aka Century Drive) on Bend's westside. We should be open in October!

'06 Merlot Review from Wine Press Northwest

Mon, 29 Mar 2010 19:53:00 +0000

This just in: a review of "Excellent!" from Wine Press Northwest (spring 2010 issue)for our 2006 Merlot, Fortmiller Vineyard. Full review follows:

Liz and Scott Ratcliff run their winery and tasting lounge in Bend, Ore., and bring in grapes from the warm Rogue Valley to the southwest. This Merlot comes from Fortmiller, a vineyard farmed by Don and Traute Moore, considered by many to be the finest growers in the Rogue. The wine opens with aromas of cranberries, Chelan cherries, red currants and sweet herbs, followed by pleasing flavors of ripe red plums, cherries and chocolate on the finish. It's a lush wine with delicious length.

Check out the full spring issues of Wine Press Northwest at

WinesNorthwest review of our '06 Syrah

Tue, 09 Mar 2010 22:52:00 +0000

Chuck Hill just published his review of our 2006 Lakeside/Serenade Vineyards Syrah. He offers up weekly wine reviews of the best of Pacific Northwest wines, properly pairing them with food. Take a peek at what he thinks of our Syrah matched with a Churrasco Flank Steak with Chimichurri auce. Yum!

March Music Madness

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 23:25:00 +0000

Get your groove on during March in the Tasting Lounge!

Friday, March 5 starting at 6 pm: First Friday with Mike Potter, plus a local celebrity behind the bar

Saturday, March 6 starting at 8 pm: Mark Barringer plays, and he usually brings along a bunch of his amazingly talented musician friends. Musical magic, you absoutely have to see this guy play!

Friday, March 12 starting at 7:30: The Prairie Rockets! They are three women, Aspen, Shirley and Patty. Shirley plays guitar, Aspen mandolin and Patty the 5-String Banjo. "We play a bluegrassy and sometimes bluesy mix of contemporary and traditional folk songs embracing two and three part harmonies. We just have fun playing music together."

Friday, March 19 starting at 8 pm: Brian Hinderberger of Kousefly. Always a blast when Brian plays!

Cake Good!

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:41:00 +0000

Yes, Valentine's Day is almost upon us, my least favortie holiday. And I fully admit that my negative feelings towards it no doubt stem from some disappointment during adolescence. I fancy myself having matured beyond the pains of the teen years, yet here in my 40s, married to a romantic hunk, I still think Valetine's Day is stupid.

Cake and Wine! Yummy!But I do appreciate both cake and wine, so we have gotten together with The Curvy Baker and offer these delicious pairings for your weekend celebrations:

Your choice of Classic Rum Cake OR Chocolate Vodka Cake, plus a bottle of wine!

Cake and French Bubbles: $20
Cake and Lava Red: $25
Cake and our '06 Merlot: $30
Cake and our '06 Syrah (Lakeside/Serenade): $35

We are open today 'til 8, Saturday noon to 8 and Sunday noon to 5.


Tue, 26 Jan 2010 18:44:00 +0000

Two weeks ago, Scott pulled the 2008 Viognier out of barrel and into kegs. While it is not yet available in bottles, we are offering it by the taste or glass in the Tasting Lounge. Viognier on tap - delish and environmentally friendly!

This is the first vintage from the Crater View Ranch that we contract planted in Jacksonville back in 2006. The grapes were harvested at two different times, nearly two weeks apart. Scott wanted to style the wine with a good nose while still being crisp. In order to achieve this the earlier grapes we brought in had higher acidity, providing the crispness. The later picking was riper, providing the seductive floral aromas for which good Viogniers are known.

The Viognier has been aged on lees (or "sur lie" in French), "lees" being the yeasty residue remaining in the cask after fermentation. 'Sur lie' wines are bottled without racking - a process for filtering the wine - giving an added freshness and creaminess to the wine. It was aged in neutral French Oak barrels for 15 months. While no oak flavors are imparted in the wine with neutral oak, the body of the wine is enhanced.

Scott feels that Viognier is one of the few whites that can stand some aging, especially when the wine isn't filtered or fined, which helps protect the wine naturally, like a nice French White Burgandy. It is the perfect pairing with bleu cheese, pumpkin soup or seafood. But NOT brie.

Live Music in February

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 18:49:00 +0000

Gloomy February will be a whole lot more fun this year. We have lots of live music set up to lift you out of your Seasonal Affective Disorder blues!

Friday February 5 from 6-9 pm: The Quons! our offical House Band plays for you on this First Friday, while new photography from the amazing Mike Putnam graces our walls.

Friday, February 19 starting at 7 pm: Mike Potter. Mike is great friends with The Quons so you know he's gotta be super cool.

Saturday, February 20 starting at 7 pm: Deb Yager and Bo Reynolds. Austin, TX transplants will wow you with their authentic Americana sound.

January Madness

Wed, 13 Jan 2010 15:40:00 +0000

Scott is pulling the 2008 Viognier out of barrel today down at the winery, and while he says he'll be done and back on the road by noon, I know him well enough to know that noon actually means 3 or 4 pm. Meanwhile, I am trying to get coverage for the Tasting Lounge so we can open by 4 pm today, but, no guarantee. I wonder what happened to all my wine club members who told me they were getting their OLCC server's permit? Hurry up, guys! We need some help!

Since it costs a gagillion dollars to bottle the wine, for the time being we are putting the Viognier into kegs and will offer it as a glass pour out of the Tasting Lounge. A cost effective way to enjoy some stellar wine. Stay tuned for more info on the Volcano keg program...

Photography from Mike Putnam in the Tasting Lounge through February

Sat, 02 Jan 2010 21:21:00 +0000

This January and February, the Volcano Vineyards Tasting Lounge will feature new photography from Mike Putnam. Mike was inspired to take up landscape photography by the beauty of central Oregon and its surrounding backcountry. Mike hopes that these photographs will serve to enhance awareness of these awe inspiring locations and will foster a sense of stewardship in regard to these magical locations. From glacier clad volcanoes, to alpine wildflower meadows, cascading waterfalls, and powder covered mountain ranges, Central Oregon is an awe-inspiring place.

Mike strives to make the most detailed and color saturated images possible with a 4x5 camera. He does this by using professional grade slow speed film, excellent lenses and a carbon fiber tripod. Additionally, he carefully selects his subject matter, preferring scenic locations at the appropriate time of year and at times of day that allow for optimal light conditions.

Mike often wakes hours before dawn and hikes many hours in the dark in order to position himself for optimal light. Therefore, low weight and optimal optical performance were the deciding factors when selecting any given piece of gear.

He initially shot in a 35mm format. He soon found he had a real passion for photography and specifically large scenic prints. 35mm photography quickly became too limiting in terms of its lack of detail and perspective control, so he made a leap of faith and purchased a Wista cherry wood 4x5 field camera. This camera was selected for its light weight, its range of movements, simplicity and perhaps most of all for its character. As a woodworker, Mike enjoys the artisan feel of hand crafted Cherry wood. It gives the sensation of creating art with a camera that is art itself

How to Enjoy the Tasting Lounge

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 22:55:00 +0000

I heard a gal on the street the other day sniff and say that we were “just a tasting room” – not quite sure what she meant by that, but I am sure that she has probably never been inside our place. And clearly, we are doing a poor job communicating who we are and what we do. So, here are some suggestions on how to take advantage of what we work so hard to offer.Try Some Wine Made by Bendites!Volcano Vineyards is an Oregon winery. That’s right – we make our own wine. In our Tasting Lounge, we serve our wines by the taste, flight, glass or bottle. A taste is about 1.5 ounces. A flight is a taste of each of our wines. We also sell our wines “to go” by the bottle or case. We are not a multi-national company, we are not retired millionaires. We are two former waiters who moved to Bend in 2001. We make a mere 1000 cases of wine per year. “Small” wineries make 50,000. Gallo spills more wine in a week than we make in a year (yes, I am kidding, but you get the idea)Try Our Bend-Produced Magmita SangriaDon’t like red wine? We produce our own line of Magmita Sangrias (Magmita being a play on “magma”). Flavors are seasonal, such as peach, kiwi-melon-pineapple, and orange-mango, and Scott is working on some winter flavors right now, playing with cranberry, pomegranate, cherry, ginger and apple.Prove to Your California Friends that Oregon Wines Rock!Our Volcano Vineyards wines compete head to head with wines from California, as well as the rest of the world. And we consistently end up with Gold and Double Gold Medals. That means entire judging panels all think our wines are exceptional. We are pre-qualified for you to show-off!Coif a Pint of Local BeerWe have a kegerator and offer beers made right here in Bend, like Silver Moon’s delectable Amber. Cold, refreshing and delicious. While we do make wine, we are big beer fans. As the saying goes, it takes a lot of beer to make a little wine.Enjoy a Glass of White Wine or BubblyIn the mood for something lighter or festive? We always have chilled white wines and sparkling wines available by the taste, glass or bottle. And remember – no restaurant mark-up here. You can enjoy your bottle right here in our cozy space for retail prices!Have a Less Expensive, Super-Premium-Quality Glass of Wine Before Going Out to DinnerIf you ordered a glass of our wine in a restaurant, you would pay at least 50% more, if not 100% more than we charge here in the Tasting Lounge. No evil conspiracy going on, it is simply how restaurants have to structure their pricing. We have a much lower overhead in our Tasting Lounge space, and as the producer, don’t have a middle-man we are dealing with. So, in our Tasting Lounge, your dollars can support a high quality, artisan produced Oregon wine, and you enjoy the fruits of our labors (Sorry about the pun. Couldn’t resist.)Quiet Girls Night OutMeeting up with the girls? You need a least an hour to catch up on the latest news, right? Why not spend it in our intimate upstairs space? Save the hustle and bustle of a loud restaurant or rockin’ club for later in the evening.Date Night!The OLCC said we can no longer allow kiddos in the Tasting Lounge, so you are guaranteed a wine-filled, yet whiney-free evening (unless Scott had too much coffee, in which case I would say grab that bottle and head upstairs). And again, you can split a bottle, have a beer, sangria or glasses of your favorite Volcano wines. Book Clubs, Meetings, Networking Groups, Wine Clubs, Showers, Poker Night, Small PartiesYour small group can reserve the upstairs space Sunday through Thursday evenings for your exclusive use. No room charge, no minimum, no service fee. All you have to do is call to ensure availability. 541-617-1102.Larger Private PartiesWant the whole place to yourself? We have a very economic[...]

October 2009 Volcano News

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 22:40:00 +0000

Live Music! Friday, November 6: The Quons 6-9 pm Friday, November 13: Kousefly Acoustic - The Very Superstitious Party 8-11 pmThursday, November 19: The Quons 6-9 pm November Events Saturday, November 14: Northwest Food & Wine Festival, Memorial Coliseum, Exhibit Hall - Portland from 4 to 9 pm. www.northwestfoodandwinefestival.comSaturday, November 28: Volcano Vineyards and Maragas Winery barrel tastings! Join us at the beautiful Maragas Winery and Vineyards in Culver to sample future vintages. Minnesota Ave, Here We Are! WE ARE OPEN!! 126 NW Minnesota between Wall and Bond, Downtown Bend,across from Toomie's, right next to Clutch. And no, no food yet, weare still waiting on final permits. And the big bummer: the OLCC saysno more kiddos (and this inlcudes our own kids, even when we are closed!). We are now the perfect spot for date night. Even without the bites and babies, the new Tasting Lounge space features fun: our world class, culinary Volcano Vineyards wines, our Magmita Sangrias, plus beer, and bubbles. If you haven't been in yet, pop by and check it out - it has a great atmosphere, super cozy, and a beautiful new bar built by wine club member / custom home builder Danny Dark. It is the prefect spot to watch Downtown walk by (and I don't mean just Downtown Chuckie). To get anywhere Downtown, you pretty much have to walk by our place, so we see it all! Check the website or call 541-617-1102 for latest info on hours. Party Central! The new space is PERFECT for small parties (up to 50 folks) - we have put together simple party packages, which include the space for 4 hours, service and wine. We can arrange for food, or you can bring in your own. All the fun with no clean up! What could be simpler for the holidays? Email [] or call her at 541-390-0652 for more info. 3-Packs for the Holidays! Prepackaged, quick and easy gifts for that stubborn wine snob in your life who, for some reason, thinks you are nuts for loving our wine (and with gold medals coming out of our ears, which one of you is nuts??) PROVE to them why Volcano Vineyards is America's most awarded micro-winery. Gift box includes an (optional) explanation as to why gold medals (or better) in competitions are actually more telling of a wine's quality than Wine Spectator scores (and yes, if you said "marketing budget," you would be on the right track!). 15% off full retail; Wine Club members, you'll get another 10% off on top of that! 2006 Merlot gets GOLD at The Sommelier Challenge! Our Volcano Vineyards 2006 Merlot from Fortmiller Vineyard in Talent is Scott's favorite of our current releases and now we know for sure he's right. The judging panel of the Sommelier Challenge is, as one would expect, composed exclusively of sommeliers (certified and accredited wine professionals who are experts at wine analysis,selection and food and wine pairings). So clearly, they know what they are talking about, and have bestowed gold upon our lucious,sohpisticated merlot. Don't you crave some? It would pair perfectly with that dinner you are planning! Ken Egan, are you making your famous red sauce? Wouldn't the '06 Merlot hit the spot??We Need Help! Haven't you always dreamed about working in the wine industry? Now is your chance to get your foot in the door by picking up a few hours in our fun and friendly Tasting Lounge! We are looking for OLCC licensed servers to cover shifts from noon to 3 pm, and 5 to close (8 or9-ish). Need your permit? You can now take the class online. Be like Aimee Jones and get licensed! Drink Wine & Smile! Liz & Scott Ratcliff 126 NW Minnesota Avenue, Downtown Bend (541) 617-1102[...]

New Tasting Lounge space update

Fri, 16 Oct 2009 19:54:00 +0000

We are closed this week so we can finish up the rest of the opening work - getting the phones working, the computer set up and finishing the upgrades so we can do food. Believe me, as soon as we can open full time we will. Stay tuned!

We Are Open! (Or, Rather, We Will be at 3 Today)

Fri, 09 Oct 2009 18:42:00 +0000

Right this second Scott is at the OLCC office picking up our new license, so we should be open today at 126 NW Minnesota (between Wall and Bond) by 3 pm! Woohoo! The next two weeks we will be in “soft opening” mode, meaning we won’t have the full food menu (if any food at all) just yet, and the hours will be erratic, as we complete the move and iron out the new set up.

And now for the bad news: we can no longer allow minors into the Tasting Lounge. We sneaked into the Brooks Street space three and a half years ago just before a new regulation on tasting rooms went into effect. We were “grandfathered,” as it were, into being able to allow minors. Now with the move, we fall under the “new” regulations and kiddos can no longer be in the space. This includes our own children, even when we are closed! We wish it were different – it has been so much fun having the little guys in there, and having a place that weary parents can relax without having to worry about securing a sitter. And all the kiddos (with the exception of mine and Scott’s) were great – not once did I feel they were disruptive (again, with the exception of our own kids, who were a disruption REGULARLY).

Stay tuned for announcements about “Grand Opening” activities. We have some great ideas that hopefully we will find the time and energy to execute!

Moving to Minnesota... the Street, Silly, Not the State

Sat, 19 Sep 2009 00:06:00 +0000

Finally, finally moving the Tasting Lounge to 126 NW Minnesota Ave between Wall and Bond, Downtown Bend, right next to Clutch, across from Toomies. Very exciting, we are psyched. But, the next few weeks we will be in a state of flux, with weird hours, two locations, and Scott and I schlepping lots of things across Downtown.

So, I am formally asking for everyone to be patient with us during this time. We are just two people and are trying to get this move done as seamlessly as possible. We have to move all the stuff, plus our OLCC licenses need to be switched and we are getting everything squared away with the Department of Agriculture so we can have a small menu of food (and it will be simple, French bistro deliciousness, and we will always strive to have a few vegetarian items available). Tentative open hours are as follows:

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesday will be ‘by appointment only’ until our “Grand Opening.”

Saturday, September 19: noon to close at the Brooks Street space. This day is my and Scott’s 10th wedding anniversary, so if it is slow, we reserve the right to close up early, although not before 6 or so. I think we’ve earned it, right?

Wednesday and Thursday, September 23 and 24: 2 to 8 at the Brooks Street spaceFriday and Saturday, September 25 and 26: in the new Minnesota Ave space. It is Oktoberfest, so stop by and check the new place out. We will most likely NOT have food yet, except our beloved oyster crackers. Yummy!

Wednesday and Thursday, September 30 and October 1: 2 to 8 at the Brooks Street space

Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3: in the Minnesota Ave space. Oct 2 is Art Hop – we are hoping to have music, but our two go-to music artists are out of town that weekend – if you know anyone interested in playing, let us know. October 3 is the first day of Fall Fest Downtown – pop on by and check us out – again, probably no hot food yet.

We should be in the Minnesota space from this point on, although we will be closed the weekend (from Thursday on) of October 15. The next week, we’ll do our official opening so stay tuned for more info on that.

Thanks to you all for your interest and support!

Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyard to host FAN event this month

Sun, 06 Sep 2009 03:30:00 +0000

I know, I know! I haven't posted anything in months - I gotta tell you, this summer thing with no school has been quite an adjustment. Woohoo for this Tuesday!!!

We'll be announding the location of our move very soon - stay tuned.. In the meantime, here's a press release from the folks at Faith Hope & Charity Vineyard in Terrbonne - should be a great event, and if you haven't been up to their location, it is worth the trip.

Sunday, October 4th at 3:00 pm
Faith, Hope, and Charity Vineyard
70455 NW Lower Bridge Way
Terrebonne, Oregon

Redmond, OR - September - Every day in Deschutes county, over 650 children are homeless, 1 in 7 go to bed hungry, and more than 6500 children don’t have access to adequate healthcare. Too many parents are faced with deciding: Heat? Or eat?

To help ensure all children in Deschutes County have access to basic-need services, the Heat? Or Eat? Benefit will be held on Sunday, October 4th at 3:00 pm at the Faith, Hope, and Charity Vineyard in Terrebonne.

This fun, family event will feature several booths highlighting Terrebonne’s growing Agritourism industry. Educational displays will showcase the Crescent Moon Alpaca Ranch with alpacas to pet and learn about, Deep Canyon Preserve with information on Pheasant and Chucker hunts, Rainshadow Organics vegetable farm, Maragas Winery and local vineyards.

There will also be a silent auction, horse-drawn wagon rides, wine tasting, art, and music provided by Erin Cole Baker and Casey Elliott. Beverages & hors d'oeuvres will be provided. Entry to the event is $10 and children under 12 are free.

All of the funds raised from this benefit will be used to support Family Access Network. FAN is a local non-profit organization that is committed to building a healthy community by alleviating the suffering of children in need. Through FAN advocates in each public school, children and families are connected to essential services including food, shelter, healthcare, clothing, job opportunities, child support, and more

Old White Guys

Thu, 21 May 2009 15:06:00 +0000

After millions of years waiting on tables I slowly weaned myself from restaurants by teaching hotel/restaurant management at a little college in San Francisco, and supplemented that meager income working in the teeniest wine shop on the planet. It was, literally, under the stairs at the St. Francis Hotel. We specialized in older vintage Napa and Sonoma wines. The majority of the reds were 1985 and 1986 Cabernet Sauvignons for under $20 a bottle – and this was in the early to mid 1990s. I kid you not. The whites, unfortunately, were mostly from 1985 and 1986 as well.

Have you ever had a (domestic) chardonnay older than, say, five years or so? They turn an amazing, glowing shade of rich gold and lose their fruit to become… undrinkable, in my opinion. My boss used to sniff at me and say that appreciating these older chards was an “acquired taste.” Methinks he just wanted to unload this old stuff on some poor suckers from out of town. Frankly I hope I never do acquire a taste for that stuff since it tasted like aspirin.

This was back in the when California chardonnays were expected to be buttery malo-lactic fermentation oak bombs. These days the pendulum has swung away from that (and thank goodness – YUCK!) to a cleaner, crisper style (neutral oak or stainless steel) that can handle more bottle time – and allow us to taste the fruit. You’ve heard me lecture on oak before – if you can taste the oak, you can’t taste the fruit, and that means there won’t be much left once the wine matures.

Oak is one of the many factors that influence the ability for a wine to age well, along with acid, alcohol level, tannins (present in reds as a result of fermentation contact with skins and stems) and the presence of residual sugar, to name but a few. Fundamentally, the wine has to be balanced and well structured in order to flourish with bottle aging. Much of this depends on the natural characteristics of the grape varietal.

Viognier, for example, is a robust white wine grape with a natural acidity and full, complex fruit flavors that make it a good candidate for aging. For the southern Oregon and northern California viogniers I have tried, vintages 2005 and 2006 are getting to their peak just now. We planted Viognier at Crater View Ranch Vineyard in Jacksonville in 2006 and brought in our first harvest this past fall 2008. After fermentation, we put it in neutral oak barrels where they now wait. We will bottle, most likely, at the end of summer and then… wait some more. Wait for the blow-you-away fruit to mellow, for the flavors to integrate. Patience is required. But even then, I am only talkin’ 4-5 years, not 10 or 20. I have yet to find a US white that can survive that long.

Does that mean the 2008 Pinot Gris showing up in the stores are inferior? Of course not – many white varietals peak in their youth, thanks to being naturally fruit forward. Sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean, do I care that my sauvignon blanc with the hint of residual sugar will be over the hill next winter? Uh, no, I don’t.

Compared to red wines, some of which hit their peak 20 plus years after harvest, it seems as though quibbling over a year or two with whites is absurd (and frankly, quibbling over something like wine is indeed silly). But given the shorter life span of whites, that year can make a big difference.

Originally published at:

Another View from Brooks Street, Part 2

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 16:20:00 +0000

Wow. Had I known that people actually read this blog I would have been a little bit more careful about what I wrote!

Seriously, I guess I do need to clarify a thing or two about our tasting room. Yes, we are closing the Brooks Street tasting room space, but it will be open until someone else takes over that space. Also, once it is closed, and before we get the winery open, we will do stuff on the lawn of Balay on the weekends and on Farmers’ Market Wednesdays. Balay is just across Brooks Street from us, they have a great backyard that overlooks the river.

And once the winery space is open, we are planning on doing tastings out of there, and hopefully we can get a place with the proper zoning for us to do special events on site as well. We would have done this whether the economy was great or in the tank.

Thanks for all the encouragement and support!

Another View From Brooks Street

Tue, 28 Apr 2009 22:51:00 +0000

Three years ago, Scott and I opened the tasting room for our winery, Volcano Vineyards, on Brooks Street in Downtown Bend. Since that time we’ve done what we could to improve and increase awareness of that still-secret little back alley. And to this day, we still get the brow crinkle, even from longtime Bend residents. “Brooks Street? Where is that??” Shortly after we opened, we became active in the Downtown Bend Business Association: Scott is now on the Board and is chair of the beautification committee, which brought the planters and flower baskets to Brooks Street, and I have done work on the marketing committee and assisted the DBBA staff with some municipal issues. We worked on the Brooks Street coalition to get the seasonal banners, and are working with the city and delivery companies to help renew the ‘pedestrian walkway’ feel Brooks Street was originally intended to have, rather than the back alley for Wall Street it has become. But last week we added another little feature that has become all too common to Brooks Street lately: the “For Lease” sign.

Yes, that sounds very dramatic, but for us, it will be a good thing.

We are working on opening a winery facility here in Bend for the production of our Magmita Sangria and our second label, Magna Wines. Because of permitting and licensing issues, we can’t have the tasting room open – the OLCC allows three locations under our winery license: we have our main winery facility in southern Oregon as one, our house is another (from where we ship) and the third is now the tasting room, but that will be transferred to the new winery space. And even securing that has taken longer than we thought it would – we are regulated from the feds down to the city. The hoops are many.

So we, too, are altering our business, not giving up.It is a good time for us to close our storefront retail outlet. Our overall sales are up this year, thanks to our expansion to new markets. Scott and I are the business – and now is the time for us to focus on growing. The kicker for us is that our best customers walk into the tasting room with their Google maps and still say “Wow, you are really hard to find” – it makes more sense to be hard to find in a larger production space than being hard to find paying downtown rent. Closing date? Not sure yet – it will depend on getting a new tenant in the space. I feel totally overwhelmed with work right now, so I hope that happens soon.

Stay tuned. The process of opening the winery will be long but we’ll try to make it as exciting as possible!

originally published at:

Festival Festivities

Sun, 15 Mar 2009 18:36:00 +0000

Many many many years ago I went to a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation in San Francisco. There were 60-something Napa and Sonoma wineries in attendance plus a killer silent auction – a dream afternoon, right? The food options, however, were limited – lots of fruit (and yuck-o, fruit with wine? no thanks) and stinky cheese. There is only so much stinky cheese you can consume at one time, so I admit I probably did not have enough food in my system when I hit the wine gauntlet. Was I tasting and spitting? Oh no, drinking it all down, baby! At one point I jumped behind a table to give a bathroom break to a small winery owner whose chardonnay I loved – no malolactic fermentation, not over oaked – it was yummy. So he offered me a free bottle if I would cover his table for him and like any good drunk girl, I sold the heck out of his wine. I started chatting up this cute guy, Lance, and found out very quickly that he had gone to high school with my new boyfriend, Scott (and funnily enough the conversation ended pretty quickly after that bit of information was disclosed… I wonder why?). Shortly thereafter my buds Bradly and Jim decided I had had enough and they led me to Jim’s car, smartly putting me in the front seat, as halfway to my apartment, in the middle of the Castro, Jim had to pull over so I could yack. Really lovely. I was in my late 20s, throwing up in the daylight on 17th Street from drinking too much. Bradly and Jim dumped me off at my apartment and I called Scott and made him come over to take care of me (no, not that way, I mean in the holding my head over the toilet way – ah, new love!). I was hung over for a week. And that, my friends, is how NOT to enjoy a wine tasting event.The Newport Seafood & Wine Festival was two weekends ago and it has a somewhat deserved reputation for being a crazy booze fest. And on that Saturday it was true: folks in costumes dry humping, cougars asking for Volcano tattoos on their chests, one woman slung back a taste of our wine like a shot of whiskey – it was a spectacle indeed. But Sunday and Friday, the folks more concerned with actually tasting the wine were in attendance and many of them had specific tactics for getting the most out of this great collection of wineries. 1. Eat something before and during the event. Take it from me, this is VERY IMPORTANT.2. Spit out the tastes. (Yeah, right) No, seriously, it is very difficult to keep track of how much you have consumed when you are having a little taste here and a little taste there. Those little tastes add up very quickly.3. Take the time to do a little research before the event: Find out what wineries will be in attendance and select 5 or so as your priority. Don’t just visit places you are familiar with. This is a perfect chance to try something new.4. Start by tasting whites first, then go around and try the reds.5. If there is a competition associated with the festival, focus on the gold and silver medal winning wines. While it may not be a big time, world renown competition, it will pre-screen the6. Take notes! Even if it is something as simple as “Wow, that Vineyard Manager from Quail Run is cute!” You’ll be trying lots of wine and meeting many people whilst consuming alcohol – if you want to remember any of it, write it down – or better yet, use that camera on your cell phone to take photos of the bottles you particularly enjoyed.7. If the festival doesn’t have a Wine Will Call, complain to the organizers. We wineries have been chirping at some of[...]

Syrah: Sexy and Seductive? Or Sybil?

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 18:17:00 +0000

Last year I had a self proclaimed wine snob in our Volcano Vineyards Tasting Lounge who snorted when I told him our 2004 Syrah was a “cool climate” Syrah. He dismissed me as “spinning” the marketing on our wine. He was obviously an idiot, as that wine won a double gold medal at the Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging. His idea of Syrah was the big, fat, flabby high alcohol fruit-bomb wine typically coming out of Walla Walla, parts of California and Australia (where they call is Shiraz – yes, same grape). So, not only was he a blow-hard who really wasn’t quite the wine connoisseur he fancied himself to be, but his palate has yet to evolve enough to appreciate elegant, refined Syrahs.Settle down, I am only kidding - he is perfectly fine preferring one style of Syrah over another, but I do wish he would realize that it is a stylistic preference (and often dictated by climate – I don’t think we could ever do a high-alcohol Syrah from Lakeside Vineyard – it just doesn’t get that hot there).I realize that it is very hip these days to be in love with syrah from Walla Walla. Especially here in Bend, it seems to have a cult-like following. And with good reason. I have complete admiration for the Walla Walla wineries, in fact, I am downright jealous of what they have been able to do over the last ten years: a cohesive, united marketing effort coupled with self policing has elevated the region to world class status. Mark Retz from Zerba Cellars will tell you that they absolutely have a marketplace advantage with Walla Walla on their label. Scott made our Volcano Vineyards 2006 Fortmiller Syrah in a “Walla Walla” style – very fruity, higher alcohol than we usually have, longer aging in oak. That is what people expect when they order a Walla Walla syrah: a big, bold, fruity explosion of luscious, almost inky wine. It’s a style that has its place: for example, when you are sitting in front of the fire having wine for dinner. If you are planning, however, to have wine WITH dinner, a more subtle syrah – and yes, it is sometimes referred to as a “cool-climate” Syrah - would probably be your best choice.I hereby confess to being uncool. I prefer my Syrahs refined, elegant, well balanced and generally lower in alcohol. A personal choice, a matter of taste, a stylistic preference.The big, bold, high alcohol wines are perfect to have on their own since once you’ve tasted them, it is difficult to taste anything else – your palate is blown. When in a restaurant, I find that if I am spending more than $10 on food, I would really like to be able to taste what I am eating. So the big bold fruit bomb wines knock your socks off on first sip, then… kablam! Your mouth goes nearly numb. And these fruit bombs can be any varietal from any region – it is a winemaker choice to let the fruit hang until the sugars (which convert to alcohol during fermentation) hit high numbers. From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense. After all, the fruit bombs are the big sellers these days, the consumers seem to prefer them. The glossy wine mags, despite their editorial musings on the flaws of high alcohol wines, consistently award them scores in the 90s.There are higher alcohol wines out there that retain some acidity and have decent structure – and keeping that acidic backbone is the key. I recently had a Pinot Noir with a 16% alcohol – very unusual for a Pinot Noir - and it was lovely, a perfect complement to duck. But frankly, if I am going to polish[...]

The Newport Seafood and Drunk, eerrr, I mean, Wine Festival

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 04:38:00 +0000

Wine is all about aromas. Scents, fragrance, and bouquet are of primary importance. If nothing else, this week has been a week of varied smells.We arrived in Newport early last week and learned a little something on the journey. Our youngest son is indeed susceptible to car sickness: last year’s vomiting incident was no fluke. But while last time he threw up after we got out of the car, this year it happened right there in the backseat. All over his Spiderman suit, his booster seat, the floor. Mmmmmm mmmmm good. Then we get to the house to find that a short in the electrical box caused the electricity to have gone out days earlier. And all the crab bait in the freezer was no longer frozen. Or fresh. So while Scott was cleaning out the minivan (and really, were they not designed with kiddo’s eliminations in mind?) I was suppressing my gag reflex to clean out the rotting fish. And despite three pounds of baking soda there is still a whisper, the merest hint of brininess in the air when we open the freezer. Ah. The sea.Many, many winery people warned us that the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival is a crazy booze-fest of drunk twenty-somethings (and I know what you are thinking – what in the world is wrong with that???). But I’d have to say that out of the three days of the festival that only held true for Saturday, which was a spectacle indeed. Folks dress up in costumes, everyone screams when someone breaks a glass (and inevitably people start breaking glasses on purpose, and are quickly shown the door). I think its boozy rep is a bit overblown. While lots of places were complaining their sales were down 50% from last year, we felt the weekend was a great success – we’d never been here before so anything over breaking even was a bonus. Our 2006 Merlot won Gold here at Newport and we sold out of it and the 2005 Bordeaux Blend quickly. This was the perfect place for our Magmita Sangria.The Newport Chamber of Commerce, who hosts the event, and the OLCC are of course well aware of the "festiveness" of this festival and they have set very strict guidelines for what we can and cannot do. Taste and glass pours we being closely monitored, no open bottles were to leave tasting areas, and the place was crawling with police. If a winery were to violate the OLCC regulations, hefty fines – and I am talking thousands of dollars – were levied. So of course there is the a-hole who comes up to us as things were winding down on Saturday and says that he "would have bought a case” except he felt “gyped” on his glass pour, so he wasn’t going to buy anything. Did he say anything at the time he got his glass? Of course not. Was he actually planning on buying a case? I seriously doubt it. What a bunch of BS. Like we are supposed to risk a hefty fine so he can get a quicker buzz? I don’t think so. But these few festival buttheads make for great stories later.As we usually find at these events, most folks are so friendly, they love wine and are interested mostly having fun while trying great wines and yummy food. And a remarkable number of people were over for the weekend from Bend and had never heard of us. These events are a great excuse to get spend a long weekend away doing the wino and foodie thing on a budget. We’ll be at Sip in McMinnville the weekend of March 13, but we won’t be at Astoria, as it is right after Pebble Beach Food & Wine – that one, not so much for the budget conscious, but if you have the means, I highly suggest checking it o[...]

Blah Blah Blog

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 12:03:00 +0000

My first blog for is now live. To read it, and other edgy Bend bloggy stuff, check out:

I can't imagine having enough to say to do this blog and the BendNights blog, but I'll give it a shot.

So, how 'bout this weather we've been having?

All righty, a quick update on us. We are looking for a bigger Tasting Lounge space Downtown, and are hoping to find someone to sublease the Brooks Street spot. I am happy to say we’ve outgrown that location, and want to start doing more events in the Tasting Lounge, like wine dinners and technical tastings. We are still also working on getting a production facility up and running here in Bend by this summer – gotta get that Magmita Sangria bottled!

We started looking for investors for the Magmita Sangria and the Magna Wines last summer, but put everything on hold once it became clear the economy was tanking. I don't think we had a really clear picture of what our next step was going to be - Scott was thinking we might have to move to southern Oregon, I wanted to stay in Bend, were we going to use our current winery facility for the second labels or build our own and if so, how tricked out would it be... many, many uncertainties. But we seem to have narrowed our focus and as long as I can get Scott to stop coming up with new ideas ("Hey, let's do a whole line of frozen chicken called Lava Clucks" - it's maddening - somthing new every day) I will have our new business plan done by early March. It is all becoming clear to me now.

Double Double Gold

Tue, 06 Jan 2009 01:57:00 +0000

First blog of 2009 and I have good news. The results of the Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging are out and we got TWO DOUBLE GOLD MEDALS: one for the Lava Red, and one for the 2006 Lakeside/Serenade Syrah. The ’05 Syrah got just plain old Gold, same with the ’06 Merlot.

The Platinum Judging is an invitation-only competition for Pacific Northwest wines. To qualify, wines must have won a gold medal or better in a major national or international wine competition during the previous year. To earn a DOUBLE GOLD, all the judges must agree that the wine is a gold medalist. To get a roomful of varied palates to agree on something like that is quite a feat.(Don’t you love that visual? A room of palates – it reminds me of that weird circus troupe that used to be on Northern Exposure every once in a while. Their ring leader was the guy who plays Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street and he was in love with Marilyn. Ah… I loved Northern Exposure!).

We will be taking it easy the rest of January, filling out our year end reports to states we ship to, compiling our OLCC Privilege Tax statement, pulling together our 2008 financials – all that fun stuff. We’ve cut back the tasting room to four days a week, and will try to catch our breath. Scott is working with Doug Hough, our designer, on the labels for 2007 and finalizing the designs for the Magmita and Magna lines. Things pick up in February with the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival the weekend of the 20th. And we are hoping to pull together a wine dinner this winter sometime – stay tuned!

Kissing 2008 Good-Bye

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 15:51:00 +0000

In our December newsletter, I hit a nerve – I have never gotten so many comments on a newsletter before, and there was one particular line that seemed to resonate with people, and in case you missed it, here it is: Scott and I have been on the precipice of financial ruin for the last 3 three year. Welcome to our world.We were flooded with folks dropping into the Tasting Lounge to commiserate. Those moments were the highlight of this holiday season.But I am not sure if it is easier or more difficult to maintain a positive attitude now that everyone else is in our boat. The emotional roller coaster of owning our own business has gone from highs and lows oscillating month to month to a daily ride. One hour we are on top of the world; the next, things seems bleak. We strive to maintain perspective, focus on the big picture, be thankful for what we have, live in The Now, all of that. Lately, it has become our mantra. Great on a macro level.But let’s get real. On a micro level, the daily stress is suffocating. It is frustrating for us, as we are right in the range we predicted in our projections, falling between best case and worst case. Our sales are up almost 30% over last year. What is killing us right now? Debt servicing and cash flow.So, yes, I confess, we do have high consumer debt – but allow me to defend myself. And frankly, it seems we do need to defend ourselves these days since the BIG BANKS are trying to deflect their questionable practices by blaming the little guy – we were apparently too greedy, too impatient, too materialistic. What about those of us who have been squeezed so tightly that we had to use credit cards to buy basic necessities? Groceries, gas, health care, etc.Scott and I are absolutely, astoundingly in credit card debt. And no, we did not buy a boat or a flat screen TV, we used those credit cards for the business and for basic life stuff (and yes, I do mean groceries, health care, etc). Mr. Visa and Ms. MasterCard helped finance harvest one year and we are still paying it off. And we have been paying it, methodically, every month.So why, then, did I just receive notice from THE BIG BANK that they would be increasing my interest rate? And they are a bank getting BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in bailout money from the government (read: the taxpayers). I guess they figure all us cardholders should pay, as word on the street is that they raised rates across the board – because they can.All they’ve done now is increase my monthly minimum to them without allowing me to bring down my balance. And frankly, if it comes down to the choice between paying my credit card bill and buying food for my little boys, guess which one I am going to pick? What are they going to do, ding my credit rating? Knock yourselves out. I am a small business owner; my credit has been shot since we started this venture. My priorities are NOT about keeping big bank executives in their McMansions for the good of the American economy, but about keeping my family housed and healthy and keeping my business viable. Scott and I joke that we have almost a million dollars in “liquid assets” (the wine) that are anything but liquid. I wish there were a bank that would consider it as collateral, but while banks will foreclose on a house, they don’t want to be in the wine business (hmmm – maybe that should clue us in… haha).What disgusts me even further is “they” can hide behind the t[...]