Cindy Grossman is a Midwest transplant and construction specialist who has turned her hand to crafting a piece of paradise in the heart of Central Oregon, in the shape of the Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyard and Event Center.
Grossman had an idea of the site’s potential when she and her husband Roger bought what was then a somewhat rundown farm in a picturesque setting off Lower Bridge Road in Terrebonne some ten years ago.
After growing up in a family-run resort in the pristine territory of Ely, Minnesota, around the border waters linking with Canada, Grossman developed a career in construction, building high-end custom homes in rural areas of Illinois, outside of Chicago.
The couple had no immediate thoughts of leaving the area until they were made an offer they couldn’t refuse for the lovingly-crafted Victorian-style home Cindy had built as their personal residence.
She was left to ponder the next move but remembered being impressed by Central Oregon when passing through to visit one of their children who was attending school in the North West; which led to a return trip and the purchase of the 300-acre ranch which produced alfalfa and high quality timothy hay.
She harked back to her destination resort roots and nurtured an expanded vision of what could be created on the “Good Earth” (literal French translation of Terrebonne) of the farm amid the sweeping Cascade Mountain views and Smith Rock State Park backdrop.
She was also familiar with the area’s relatively cultivation-friendly, mild climate created by its laying in a “rain shadow” – a dry area on a slope facing away from the direction of the wind where mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems, casting a “shadow” of dryness behind them.
First, Grossman set about constructing an iconic farmhouse centerpiece fashioned off the antique barns of the Midwest and East Coast from old-growth pine, including a sturdy centerpiece table crafted from floor joists salvaged from part of the old Terrebonne Train Depot.
Then she went through what proved to be an exhaustive land use process in her quest to diversify into creative directions.
Grossman said: “It has been a long road and sometimes it seems difficult to convince the county authorities that farms struggle to be profitable, especially when you have a relatively short growing season, and that they need to be allowed to diversify.
“We are also big supporters of the agri-tourism business which is growing fast at a grassroots level elsewhere, whereas this area seems a little late to the party.
“A big part of our focus here is on health, wellness and education regarding responsible, sustainable practices.”
Grossman finally emerged victorious in her fight to win small destination-resort type approval for the site, with the help of exhaustive background work including searching old permits showing legal lots of record.
The next phase of the plan included turning an area of sagebrush and weeds into an exquisitely tranquil spot featuring a lush lawn for guests to be surrounded by wildflowers with a bridge over a babbling brook to a ceremonial area framing the Cascade Range.
A landscaped paver patio area spanning over 5,000 square feet can also be lit adjacent to a soothing pond for evening dancing and socializing.
Grossman said she and her crew actually worked 16 hours a day to get the courtyard area just right in time for the first event staged there – her daughter’s own wedding.
Another piece of the picture is the 15-acre vineyard she has planted – the largest in Central Oregon.
She said: “We are using eight different varietals of hybrid grapes that mostly came out of Cornell and the University of Minnesota, geared towards being hardy and withstanding harsher climates; particularly as it can be challenging to cultivate viniferous grapes in this part of the world.
“They are already propagating well and we are scheduled to have estate wine within around three years. We also plan to have a dining area in the vineyard featuring creative pairings.
“We are trying to create a wonderful setting for a whole host of events, from outdoor celebrations like weddings or reunions – which we can accommodate now and where the party can currently use the farmhouse for preparations – to retreats or educational seminars in the future.”
A tasting room is in the works for the fall, while approvals are in place for a guest lodge set to break ground once additional investment is gathered as part of a master plan which includes cottages and a smattering of five-acre-plus home sites which would also enjoy farm privileges and access to a future envisaged trout lake and tournament water activity area.
Other milestones are set to include a chapel and reception hall as well as a paved driveway extension featuring a roundabout with fountain feature. A large dry creek area is on hand to provide for around five acres of parking.
Grossman added: “When the whole guest ranch is up and running we plan to provide transport to area activities which visitors can enjoy, as well the 30,000-acre Cline Butte Recreational Area next door.
“It is wonderful to have recreational opportunities here 12 months of the year and there is also so much culture and incredible restaurants. We love Central Oregon and plan to never leave. We are excited to entertain visitors and have them leave as friends.”
The site has already recently hosted a number of events, including an “August Bounty” Farm to Table Dinner featuring five local chefs and benefitting the Slow Food High Desert Group.
It is also still a working ranch and coordinates with other neighbors as part of the “Good Earth Trail”, an agri-tourism loop which is part of the Oregon Country Trail and includes destinations such as Crescent Moon Alpaca Ranch, Rainshadow Organics, Long Hollow Dude Ranch, Deep Canyon Preserve & Ranch and Alder Creek Ranch.