Member Profile: Durant at Red Ridge Farms
Produced in partnership by Travel Dundee and the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association.
Red Ridge Farms has a heartbeat. As the weather warms, life is springing forward everywhere you look – the vines are budding in the vineyards, the plants are growing in the nursery, the tasting room is filling with friends from far and near. But the heartbeat of the farm beats most clearly in the red barn, where Penny Durant tends her ewes and their 42 newly born lambs.
Ken and Penny Durant were amateur winemakers from their home in Portland, where Ken worked as an engineer. Everything changed in 1973 when Penny answered the tug on her heart to own a plot of land. They purchased the first part of their farm in the Dundee Hills and she began planting grape vines shortly afterward. Among the first winemakers to put roots down in the area, this year they proudly celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Durant at Red Ridge Farms, which now spans 135 acres.
Penny loves and nurtures every wild thing – every herb, lamb and olive tree – that grows on her land. At Red Ridge Farms, she hoped to create a place that would be a refuge, of sorts. A place where beauty ran free in a way that made the world seem more peaceful. “I always hoped that when people came to visit, they would feel better when they left than when they came,” she says. “It’s been my labor of love.”
And the love Penny has for her farm is never more evident than during lambing season. Every morning she’ll be up early scanning the field to see if any ewes welcomed babies overnight. If they did, Penny and the crew will get them inside the barn with fresh straw so she can keep an eye on the growth of the lambs and step in with bottle feedings when necessary. She coordinates visits with the traveling veterinarians to ensure all the lambs are healthy, and once they’re a couple weeks old, she’ll take them out into the fields where the lambs will continue to stick by their mamas as they play and grow.
“Sheep are not as labor intensive as growing great grapes,” she admits. “But they do take a certain amount of time and care. In both cases, if they aren’t getting what they need, you know it very quickly!”
As Penny’s lambs grow and the vines stretch toward the sun, Durant will be brimming with activities for all to enjoy. In addition to impeccably made wines from carefully tended vines, visitors can enjoy a hike along a nature trail that winds through the vineyards and the sheep fields, a visit to their plant nursery and farm shop, and a stop at the olive mill where they press oil from the olives grown in their olive grove. Even better, guests can stay overnight on the farm at the garden apartment or the cottage.
Penny’s pride is palpable as she talks about her farm. Her family has created something that will stand the test of time, something that will continue to offer beauty to those who visit. We hope you’ll come and experience some of the magic for yourself at Red Ridge Farms.
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