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Guests gather on the deck of Cooper Ridge Vineyard’s new tasting room in Roseburg.##Photo provided
Owners Robin and Lesa Ray with son Cooper.##Photo provided

A Site to See

Cooper Ridge offers panoramas, passion for wine

By Nancy Rodriguez

Luminous clouds shift silently by a soft breeze, revealing the pale blue of an endless Umpqua Valley sky. The only sound is the music of the river as it flows past, the sun reflecting off the water creating a mesmerizing show of a thousand blinking lights. The vineyard stretches out below in perfectly straight rows leading to the river. This is the view from the tasting room at Cooper Ridge Vineyard.

After successful careers as property developers in Sunriver, owners Robin and Lesa Ray began a search for a place to retire. “We were looking for a place to sit and watch the river and the sunset,” Robin shared.

But retirement would have to wait; the Rays are now full-time “stewards of the land, responsible for the property in the best way possible.” In 1999, they purchased a 25-acre parcel of a 75-year-old walnut farm in Roseburg and have transformed it into not only a home, but a place to build a legacy.

In 2003, the couple started construction on their new home; three years later, they finished their Frank Lloyd Wright-style house. It overlooks Riverview Vineyard, planted in 2009 to Merlot, Tempranillo, Viognier and Syrah. The same year, they planted Fox Hollow block to Riesling, Syrah and Grüner Veltliner — nearby is a guest house. In the middle of Dynamite Ridge rests the tasting room, winery and Pinot Noir vines established in 2008.

Like the blending of wine, the name Cooper Ridge is a combination of names for Robin and Lesa’s son, Cooper, and StoneRidge, the last project they developed in Sunriver. The tasting room is also a synthesis, combining contemporary elements with stone and wood for a timeless feel.

The tasting room opens up to an all-encompassing sight of the vineyard below, the river beyond and travels for miles across the valley with a 180-degree view of Callahan Ridge. The views are even more impressive outside on the 2,000-square-foot deck with plenty of seating and umbrellas for shade. Cooper Ridge is family friendly, too, with a kids’ room, providing parents a more focused, relaxed tasting experience.

Their goal was to create something unique to the area. They succeeded. The tasting room is breathtaking in its beauty yet warm and welcoming, not unlike the Rays themselves.

Although winemaking was not originally part of their retirement plan, wine figured in their lifestyle. Robin and Lesa are self-taught winemakers with a shared vision of not only those who have an appreciation for wine but also for the potential of the Umpqua. The state-of-the-art winery is currently under construction, projected to be completed in 2016.

In the vineyard, the couple is responsible for the vines; Lesa studied viticulture at nearby Southern Oregon Wine Institute. Their grapegrowing philosophy: “Learn your vineyard,” using a “white glove treatment” approach.

Robin and Lesa are living their dream in the Umpqua: becoming members of the community, producing a product without pretense while sharing their passion with others.

Retirement will have to wait, as you can see; the Rays have work to do. With fervor in their hearts and a great love of wine, they invite you to “come for the wine, stay for the view.”

The tasting room doors opened November 2014, in time for a soft opening on Thanksgiving Weekend, but its official opening is Mother’s Day Weekend, May 8–10. Wine members will have the opportunity to lodge on site. For more information, please visit www.cooperridgevineyard.com.

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