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Llamas, woodcraft and, now, wine tasting

Rain Dance Vineyards opens, selling its own brand of pinot noir

Rain Dance Vineyard and its tasting room had their inception in 2013. While owners Celia and Ken Austin Jr. have had vineyards planted for almost seven years, until recently they had been selling all the grapes. But in 2013 they ended up with an acre and a half of pinot that had not sold, so they decided to create their own brand.GARY ALLEN - Grand opening - Rain Dance Marketplace has a new  addition at its Bell Road  building. Besides llamas, woodwork    and fibrous  garments, the marketplace  now hosts a wine tasting room. Operating as Rain Dance Vineyards, the selection includes a 2013 pinot noir from vineyard land up the road.

“It’s one of those things that just evolved,” Celia Austin said.

Alexana Winery has been purchasing the grapes, grown at two vineyard areas about half way up Herd Road from the marketplace, and Alexana winemaker Bryan Weil is producing the wine the Rain Dance Vineyard brand will sell, Austin said.

Mostly pinot and some chardonnay is being grown, but with a few recent additions to the Austins’ vineyard property some riesling is also in the works.

The tasting room, situated within the 3-year-old Rain Dance Marketplace space, offers a place to relax in the rustic environment near the foot of Chehalem Mountain. Visitors can admire the wooden furniture handcrafted by Ken Austin Jr., or they can step outside and sit overlooking the rolling field and hills, where they might catch a glimpse of the Austins’ llamas, which they raise under the Rain Dance Ranch name. There are only two in that field for a specific reason.

“If you have a whole group they get pushy with each other,” Austin explained.

But the field outside is not the only area llamas have a presence, in fact many of the goods for sale inside the marketplace are made of llama fiber. Roving, yarn and felt are available at the market, all of it made completely of fiber from the business’s llamas.

“It’s fabulous fiber, it’s comparable to cashmere,” Austin said. “It’s a smooth hollow fiber so it’s not scratchy but it’s warm. People who are allergic to sheep’s wool can wear llama.”

The marketplace is also part of a fiber co-op, meaning there are socks and blankets made with a mixture made partially with onsite llama fiber.

“It’s very locally produced,” Austin said.

Rain Dance Vineyard will host a grand opening for its new tasting room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 1 through May 3 at 26355 N.E. Bell Road. For more information, call 503-538-0197.


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