Rich Cushman - Viento
An arctic winter in Indiana during graduate school led Hood River native Rich Cushman back to the west coast as quickly as possible-to sunny California where he studied in the master's program in Enology at UC Davis for two years.
After Davis he voyaged to Germany and apprenticed at Weingut Dr. Bürklin-Wolf in the Pfalz. True to his Oregonian roots, Cushman returned to the fertile Willamette Valley.
A vintner since 1982 and a consulting winemaker since 1987, he was integral to establishing many fruitful and home-grown wineries: Laurel Ridge, Cooper Mountain, Flynn, Edgefield and Pheasant Valley. Cushman adheres to tradition in winemaking, he does not ascribe to fashionable techniques of tannin and extractive enzyme additions or concentrators. He finds the beauty of wine is that, "A bottle of wine can make a bad day good and a good day great."
Though currently residing in McMinnville with a family, four cats, a glorious garden and a garage full of bikes and skis, Cushman aspires to return to his hometown of Hood River in the near future. He delights in the new Columbia Gorge appellation, blending Pinot noir grapes harvested from a 1000 foot cliff from some nook and cranny one-and a half acre plot.
Grapes for his Viento label are sourced from a small vineyard he planted in the Gorge area in 1981 and supplemented with fruit from various Washington vineyards. In pursuit of some of the more exotic varietals from the Northwest, he especially seeks Rhone varietals and Sangiovese for his Indie label.
Twenty-five vintages later, he still waxes poetic on the intricate layers of winemaking: "Literally, I love what I do. I love the creative aspect...it's an art, with the science there to support it. We are sharing a hand-crafted product that's intimate and personal."