Duane and Dina Barker's long-standing love of wine and sustainable farming inspired them to plant their first wine grapes in the summer of 2012. Today, Lava Terrace Cellars—the first winery to grow its own grapes in Bend, according to its owners—boasts over 4,000 vines sprawled across 5.5 acres. Their first entry into the 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition in Sonoma, California, resulted in two silver medals—one for the winery's 2017 barrel-aged Marechal Foch and one for the 2018 barrel-aged La Crescent.
- Lava Terrace Cellars
- One of Lava Terrace Cellar's award-winning wines – their 2018 La Crescent.
The prestigious competition rates over 2,700 wine entries annually, including the vintages of several other Central Oregon wineries, such as Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyard in Terrebonne (Faith, Hope and Charity received three medals this year, for its 2017 Leon Millot, 2017 Frontenac and 2018 La Crescent).
Dina Barker explained the unique experience of growing grapes at 3,440-foot elevation, and the excitement she and her husband experienced after turning what started as a hobby into a venture earning international praise and recognition.
"It's a funny story how all of this started," she told the Source. "It was just a conversation between my husband and myself. We were talking about how much we enjoyed what we call our 'hobby farm,' and how nice it was to be completely self-sustaining in our own little slice of paradise. We started talking about the possibility of growing our own grapes, and we found out our neighbors down the road were growing grapes. We said, 'Hey, if they can do it, we can do it.' We figured we could make our own wine and be completely self-sustaining."
- Lava Terrace Cellars
Dina Barker said one challenge involved finding varietals that could withstand frigid Bend winters. "We spoke with different sources to gain knowledge on what exactly we'd be looking at," she said. "You can't just grow anything in Central Oregon. We started with a Marechal Foch, then added other varietals; Brianna, La Crescent and Marquette. We started with 50 vines; now we have over 4,000. These particular varietals have a very hearty rootstock. Cross-pollinating an American rootstock with a traditional French varietal results in a vine that can withstand the winters, the elevation and the soil. The root won't die off at even 25 to 35 degrees below zero; now we have a great, flavorful and unique wine that won't die off in cold weather."
These cross-pollinated varietals are in a category of their own when it comes to the Sunset International competition. "It's a specific category, but a broad one," Dina Barker noted. "Multiple states participate, from New York to Oregon. We
were very excited to win those two medals."
Lava Terrace Cellars wines are available to buy through the winery's website, at 3rd Street Beverage or at Elixir Wine Group in Bend. General Duffy's Waterhole in Redmond is hosting a WineFest later this month, where the Barkers will be pouring their award-winning wines.
"Things got put on hold because of COVID, but we're looking forward to increasing our retail presence soon," she said. "We're just so excited to be able to bring something new and unique to Bend; some unique, delicious and locally grown wines that people aren't used to."
Sat., Aug. 22, 4-9pm
General Duffy's Waterhole
404 SW Forest Ave., Redmond