When Dave Kelly was looking to retire from a 30-year career in the pet food business, he decided to launch a new adventure that could leave a legacy for his family. In 2014, Dave and his wife Karen decided to start a vineyard and winery on the same spot where Karen grew up. Located in Ridgefield, the site was originally a cattle farm called Windy Hills Polled Herefords, then it became a tree farm called Windy Hills Christmas Trees.
“We want to continue the legacy that my in-laws set in motion here, and hopefully pass it on to our kids and grandkids,” Dave said.
So, the husband and wife duo set out the process of planning, where they started construction and worked to get through all the licensing requirements for the business. Windy Hills Winery officially opened on Memorial Day weekend 2017 and today, it is a thriving winery and event center that hosts corporate events, anniversary parties, weddings, weekend wine tasting events and more. There is a commercial kitchen in the space and their wines are available by the glass or the bottle for on-site or off-site consumption.
Karen runs the kitchen and their daughter Ashley works alongside them, running many of the other details of the business, including event planning. Their wine maker is the Kellys’ long-time neighbor Bob Mayfield, who brings a rich history of winemaking to the table, having been mentored by some of the greats in the Oregon wine industry.
With springtime comes many long days of cultivating the land and tending to the rows of grapes that have been planted and word has begun to spread about the beautiful wines that Windy Hills creates. However, Dave said that part of the reason why they have seen such success in their first two years is because they haven’t lost sight of how important the customer experience is.
“Our customers are family to us, and we want to share with them what we have enjoyed here for years and give them a great experience that they will always want to come back for,” Dave said. “We understand that you only get to make a first impression one time, so we are always on our game – whether it is a wedding or corporate event with many guests or a small baby shower with fewer guests. Each guest is important to us. Having our family being part of Ridgefield and active for over 50 years brings with it a continued commitment to do it right and be an asset to the community. We live here and want the best for our community. That is why I took the risk to invest in our community through our business.”