Upon entering through the unique gate indicative of waves, cobblestones and wheels, wine enthusiasts will take in the rows of vines nestled between the rolling hills of the Umpqua Valley as they make their way to a renovated timber-frame barn.
Foon Estate Vineyard’s wine tasting room opened in October in the vintage barn built in the 1850s. The property has gone through several hands over the years and has been known as Callahan Ridge Winery, then Champagne Creek Winery. After a complete remodel and years of work, Howard and Marjorie Feldman were ready to open it as Foon Estate.
Howard Feldman built the tables and counter top out of 600-year-old curly redwood. Marjorie Feldman’s paintings, which she creates in her upstairs studio at the winery, bedeck the hallways leading to the vineyard’s bed and breakfast. A wood stove fireplace sits in the corner of the tasting room, next to the window looking into the area where wine is made.
“We’re trying to take our place among the wineries in the Umpqua Valley and make a positive contribution here,” said Howard Feldman, who is also the medical director for Shaw Heart and Vascular Center at Mercy Medical Center.
Foon Estate’s viognier, albariño, tempranillo and malbec come in bottles with labels designed with the curved, swirling elements of the whimsical front gate Howard Feldman created and a painting by Marjorie Feldman.
“They’re a kind and welcoming couple,” Gail Grossart, tasting room manager at Foon, said of the Feldmans. “They’re super talented and they’re very passionate about what they do.”
She described the wine tasting room as an eclectic, fun and welcoming place.
“I hope we become that boutique winery that is sought after and that is interesting and different and fun and unique and offers great wine,” Grossart said. Born and raised in Roseburg, Grossart used to operate a wine travel website, for which she would travel to different countries, including Austria, Italy and Croatia. She met the Feldmans at a local wine pouring event and was impressed with the wine. Now, she said she’s fortunate to work with the Feldmans and pour great wines.
The Feldmans had previously lived in Santa Rosa, where the home in which they raised their kids burned down in October’s wildfires. They moved to Santa Rosa in 1980, when the wine industry was just beginning to grow in that area, and they were inspired to one day start their own winery.
“When I was recruited to come here, this was my last chance to do that,” Feldman said. “I’m really grateful we did it; it’s been a lot of fun.” The Feldman’s daughter and son-in-law, who live in Eugene, often visit the winery with their three kids, who run and play around the vineyard.
While Foon Estate Winery is usually open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, it will also be open on Friday for Thanksgiving weekend.
“We try to make people feel welcome and comfortable,” Feldman said. “The wine’s good too, we hope people come enjoy it and make this a regular stopping point on their wine tours.” As demand grows, he said he’d like to expand the winery’s hours. In addition to the wine tasting room, the venue has a commercial kitchen for dinners and events.
The name Foon comes from a word Feldman’s brother made up when they were in high school.
“Foon is a self-deprecating, humorous and affectionate way to refer to the imminence of potential failure in our lives,” Feldman said, laughing. When he told his brother he had decided to open a winery, the brother had said “this is a great opportunity to lose everything.”
All the grapes are grown, turned to wine and bottled at the estate, where the Feldmans have lived since 2008. When they bought the property, the then-defunct winery took a long time to renovate. The vineyard had been planted in the wrong direction by the previous owner, and Feldman had to pull the old vines out, replant and wait for the grapes to mature enough to produce wine.
By 2011, Foon Estate made their first wines, which Feldman called “horrible.” But he saw significant improvements over the next couple years, and now says he’s quite happy with the product.
“We’re letting it age and mature until there’s an outlet for it,” he said, adding he’s talked to a couple local restaurants about the possibility of selling Foon Estate wines.
For more information, call 541-817-7768 or visit the winery at 340 Busenbark Lane, Roseburg.