Mt. Hood Winery is owned by Steve and Don Bickford, brothers and the 4th generation to run the family’s Century Farm in Hood River, off Hwy 35. The family farm has been growing pears and apples since 1909. They started growing apples, then moved to primarily pears and since 2000, have added grapes onto their farmland. Steve loves to work on and drive old cars in his spare time. He also loves to travel and go wine tasting in other countries, but most importantly loves playing with all 7 of his grandchildren and spending time with their families. He also plays guitar a bit and loves to jam with musicians traveling through town.
From Steve, “We started the Mt. Hood Winery, on a bit of a challenge from a friend. We, as a multi-generational family, were pear and apple growers since 1909. We were farming some apples called Newtown Pippins. A green apple, that competed with Granny Smith. The friend called one day, and said, "Would you like to plant some grapes?". Newtowns were not so much fun anymore. They harvested late and were losing the marketing race to the year ‘round Granny Smith's. So we planted our first 6 acres of grapes. The nursery in question had about 4,000 left over grapevines. At 800 per acre, that is about 5.5 acres. Our Newtown block was 6 acres. A perfect fit! And a bit of a hobby gone wild.”
As a family who has mainly been in the tree fruit business, it has been an interesting journey for them in the wine business. The wine is very complimentary to the fruit business. It enables them to have more jobs, that last longer for their employees. With fruit, they generally never see the end customer and the fruit is seen as a commodity. With wine, they get to meet lots of people who also love wine. And they get a kick out of seeing their name on the wine list! They like to make their wines in a clean and fresh style, to emphasize the great fruit they have available for their wines. They use a variety of French and American oak barrels, as needed, to add character and style to the wines.