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Photo by Denise Baratta
Chris Laughery planes wood from an old barn once standing on the property of Long Walk Vineyard near Ashland. The wood will be used in the construction of its new tasting room, background, expected to open later this year.

Long Walk Vineyard nears its destination

Tim and Kathy O’Leary take the long view when it comes to developing Long Walk Vineyard.

Their historic Valley View Orchard has endured for nearly a century, they have an abiding commitment to organic and sustainable practices, and their latest project demonstrates they’re in it for the long haul.

Not long after buying the farm at 1800 N. Valley View Road — about 2 miles northeast of Interstate 5 Exit 19 near Ashland — in July 2000, the O’Learys planted six varietals — grenache, syrah, carignan, cinsault, mourvèdre and zinfandel — on 11 acres.

“We planted what we like to drink,” Kathy O’Leary said. “Grapes from the south of France.”

Long Walk produced its first vintage in 2010, but so far its “tasting room” has been an adjacent farm stand, along with a booth at the Ashland Saturday Market on Oak Street.

Soon visitors to Long Walk will have a tasting room designed by a renowned winery architect and repurposing materials from antiquated outbuildings.

“We’ve always had a plan to eventually have a nice tasting room,” O’Leary said. “We have a permit, but we tend to have tasting only when the weather is perfect. The existing farm stand suffers from things such as no air conditioning, or heat, and has a rustic bathroom.”

The O’Learys engaged Laurence Ferar and Associates, a Portland architecture firm whose credits include the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at Umpqua Community College in Winchester and memorable industry monuments throughout the West.

Ferar’s six-person team master-planned a complete makeover of the property, including the tasting room, winery and U-pick operation. The first phase includes renovation of an old shop building into a tasting room complete with a wraparound veranda with views of Mount Ashland and the Siskiyous.

Redeveloping a property that has been farmed since the 19th century takes some rethinking about things like how best to handle the traffic that comes in and out of a winery.

“It’s been a challenge for many reasons,” O’Leary said. “We needed a site plan that would take us from the old place to one that would support the modern world, as well as a winery. It’s a very old property — the infrastructure for the site was designed when they used mule-drawn wagons. The narrow road goes right by the house and into the old barn. In order to have a tasting room that was comfortable for everyone, we needed to redesign the roads and parking.”

The move to the future has meant dismantling parts of the past, something Ashland contractor Dan Jovick has experience with.

The tasting room’s bones remain from an old shed, one of three outbuildings whose materials have been given new life and purpose. The deconstruction began last October.

“It’s always a challenge taking apart old buildings and turning them into something new,” Jovick said. “Sequencing is a big thing when you take apart old barns. It takes a lot of forward thinking as you tear things apart, so you need to have a plan for what you are using it for.”

The shed’s Douglas fir 2-by-6s are now decking. Other pieces have turned into a bar top, table tops and trimming.

“You have to shoot from the hip and think outside the box a lot on how to use the material,” Jovick said. “That’s something a lot of carpenters aren’t into, but we are. We kept all the old metal and used that for interior features and siding for a brand-new shed that looks like it’s been there a long time.”

Phase 1 will be completed before Labor Day, but Phase 2 won’t follow immediately.

O’Leary said the Long Walk moniker derived from the long journey she and her husband took from California’s Bay Area to Ashland and the long process getting to this point.

“It fits our personality,” O’Leary said. “We like to take long hikes and have done a lot on the Pacific Crest Trail.”

It also fits with the farm’s 50-acre organic orchard where caretakers and U-pickers take long walks.

“We used to joke with our U-pick customers carrying 20 pounds of apples to the stand that now they know what the Long Walk is,” she said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

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