Despite its status as one of the larger wine producers in Oregon, Duck Pond Cellars remains small at heart and is a family-ownedwinery through and through. Originally from California’s Central Valley, lifelong farmers Doug and Jo Ann Fries moved their young family to the small Central Oregon town of Sunriver in the early 1980s. In 1984, they purchased property along the banks of the Willamette River in Dundee, Oregon, where they planted a 500-acre hazelnut orchard. As devoted wine aficionados, they also planted a small 13-acre vineyard with the hopes of producing a few hundred cases of their own wine.
In 1990 son Greg Fries began college at UC Davis with the intent to study agribusiness. An elective course in enology sparked a new interest, though, and he changed his focus to learn the art and skills of winemaking. As daughter Lisa neared her own college graduation, the four family members crafted a plan to begin their own small winery in Dundee. On Memorial Day Weekend of 1993, Duck Pond Cellars opened its doors to the public for the first time, named in honor of the family home on Sunriver’s Duck Pond Lane. The initial offerings totaled around 1,000 cases, which were mostly hand sold by the family to their tasting room customers.
In the early to mid-90s, the family continued acquiring land throughout the Northwest that they felt would be suitable for vineyards. Wishing to try their hand at warmer-climate varietals, they purchased a large parcel on Eastern Washington’s Wahluke Slope where they planted a wide variety of grapes including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Dubbed Desert Wind Vineyard, the vineyard has supplied fruit for Duck Pond wines, as well as the family’s Washington State brand, Desert Wind, launched in 2001 to showcase the exceptional fruit from the vineyard.
In Oregon, the family has focused exclusively on Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Their plantings include a total of five vineyards in the Willamette Valley–Hylo, Delaney, St. Jory, Willow Creek, and the Duck Pond Estate Vineyard. All of these vineyards were planted between 1991 and 2003.
Their most recent purchase was a large plot of land in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, which they call Coles Valley Vineyard. Formerly in pasture, the acreage was planted to a variety of Pinot Noir clones between 2009 and 2012. The cuttings for the vineyard were hand-grafted and readied for planting in four greenhouses on the Hylo Vineyard.