((L) Cindy Grossman and her husband Roger transformed a “broken-down farm” into the award-winning Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards. (R) The vineyard’s tasting room is housed inside a two-story barn designed by the owners | Photos courtesy of Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards)
There is nothing Cindy Grossman welcomes more than a challenge. She’s especially inspired when that challenge comes with the words “it can’t be done,” or even “you’re crazy.”
So when, back in 2000, she and her husband Roger first saw the property that has been transformed into Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards, “we had driven down a pothole-riddled road to a broken-down farm notable for its profusion of sagebrush and tumbleweed,” Grossman recalled.
“But once we saw the surrounding mountains and ridges — even though we knew nothing about farming — we fell in love with what turned out to be a 312-acre property, and immediately decided to buy it.” A master of understatement, she added that “It has been a long, long road to get where we are now.”
Transplants from Illinois, the Grossmans reached Central Oregon after a cross-country journey in two Penske trucks that contained “building materials and very few personal items.” A general contractor, Cindy had designed and built large, custom homes, while Roger excelled in hardware sales — but both were looking forward to leaving their careers behind and retiring.
Those retirement dreams had to be put on hold in order to finance the Terrebonne property’s renovation, so both went back to work while Cindy Grossman became embroiled in the complex web of land use law — which required “so much money and time.” She learned that their acreage had “one of the largest producing irrigation wells in the state of Oregon.” (To quantify, “Big Bertha,” as the well is named, produces 4,000 gallons of water a minute, and — with a booster — 7,500 gallons.)
Grossman also discovered the property includes 59 acres of surface mining that produces “a lot of gravel,” which they began extracting and crushing for their use. Summing up her years of effort, during which she was repeatedly told that their plans to divide up and renovate the acreage weren’t allowed — Grossman exulted that “we have water, gravel, beautiful views, and nine legal parcels of land.” So there.
Her career designing and building homes — even challenging ones such as an 8,000-square-foot structure in Culver on a 1,000-acre farm, and a 12,000-square-foot house in Sisters with a carriage house and a pool — finally lost its charm. “I need a business,” Grossman told her husband. “I am not going to build homes my whole life.”
Intending to create an agribusiness, the couple labored nights and weekends to construct a two-story barn with upstairs living quarters, and a large pond reinforced by welding pieces of vinyl together. They also did all the landscaping that is such a draw for Faith, Hope & Charity’s visitors — with the dirt shoveled and spread by hand. “Roger works like a dog,” she said fondly.
Cindy Grossman then turned her sights to planting 15 acres of grapes, only to be repeatedly discouraged by others once again. “You can’t grow grapes in Central Oregon,” she was told. Fortified by their belief that “if there’s a problem, we either solve or remove it,” the husband-wife team decided to focus on cold-hardy, hybrid grapes that are resistant to mold and disease, and which could withstand the area’s short growing season, unpredictable weather, and often dramatic temperature drops. “These are tough grapes,” said Grossman.
“It was an uphill battle,” she added. But joining forces with a winemaker from Medford — “just by fate, we got one of the best” — they won a platinum award their first year out, producing 1.5 tons of grapes. To compare, production was 20 tons in 2022, and “it continues to grow and grow´— as do the accolades. “Our wines are becoming recognized and well accepted,” said Grossman modestly.
In addition to producing red wines such as Marquette, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch, and Frontenac, and white wines including LaCrescent, Frontenac Gris, and La Crosse, the owners source grapes from Washington and Oregon for their European wines such as Merlot, Barbera, Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Rose of Pinot Noir.
Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards now includes a tasting room, an outdoor music venue and event center, a large patio area where food is served, and “more open space than anyone,” according to Grossman. All of which is surrounded by the winery’s namesake, the Three Sisters Mountain range (originally named Faith, Hope and Charity).
At most wineries, characterized Grossman, “guests come, taste, buy, and leave. Faith, Hope & Charity is a destination for the soul that inspires visitors to return again and again. This is their playground, their place — and where, by people coming together, all the love happens.”