Up a winding gravel road in the rolling Dundee Hills, Newberg School District officials gathered en masse. At the center of the Bella Vida Winery tasting room – a modern, sleek interior with retractable glass doors and a deck facing the Chehalem Valley – Superintendent Joe Morelock observed the scenery below and took a moment to reflect.
Newberg High School had just received $11,340 for its Career and Technical Education program and resource room. The money came from Bella Vida and honored Ted Crawford – a local legend in the wine industry and fixture in Bella Vida's operations who died suddenly in 2012.
"If you look out over this valley and think that what is happening out there is directly benefiting students at Newberg High School, that's a great feeling," Morelock said. "It's one more example of the generosity of the community."
Bella Vida presented the giant ceremonial check to Morelock, NHS principal Tami Erion and other representatives from the district on April 1. About $10,000 will go toward a high-temp sanitizer for the school's culinary arts program, a robotics classroom starter kit, computer hardware for the NHS graphic design program and "empathy bellies" for the school's child development courses. The remaining $1,340 – collected from the winery's tasting fees in March – will be allocated to the NHS resource room, which provides clothing, food and school supplies to students in need.
The creation of the wine was a three-pronged effort that included land from the Maresh family, winemaking from Torii Mor and farming from Bella Vida, which also developed the wine. Steven Whiteside, owner of Bella Vida, and Jon Tomaselli, associate winemaker at Torii Mor, led the effort. Their personal connection to Crawford – whose initials, TLC, are part of the wine's name – inspired the work on this vintage that is nearly a decade in the making.
"Because this is such a great community, and communities have a chance to change when you do something, we wanted to give back," Whiteside said. "We thought that – because Ted was a machinist and mechanic – we thought it'd be great to fund vocational education in his name."
Whiteside remembers Crawford as a "character" and "unbelievable guy." His work ethic and passion for the viticulture industry made him a known commodity among winemakers in the area.
Crawford had a rough exterior, Tomaselli said, and kind of looked like a biker. Tomaselli said he would always find him sitting at Lumpy's Tavern in Dundee enjoying a burger and a Budweiser. But Crawford's character was what stood out most to everyone who spoke about their longtime friend and colleague.
"What I really remember about him – outside of all the work – was his authenticity and honesty," Tomaselli said. "He became a really big part of my and my family's life. When he passed, it was a big loss, so when Steve approached us to do this project I was all in on it. This project is a big deal – my family lives in Newberg and my kids will go to Newberg High."
Tomaselli wanted to make the vintage of pinot "different" than others to honor the unique personality and work ethic Crawford exhibited.
TLC Pinot Noir is part of Bella Vida's tastings and is available for $50 a bottle for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages.
Fifteen dollars from every bottle sold will go toward the fund, which will keep providing financial help to NHS for the foreseeable future. The first donation is far from the last one, according to Whiteside, and represents three years of sales for the TLC wine.
CTE programs are an integral part of the educational focus at NHS, so Erion and her staff plan to put the money to good use. She said having a chance to honor an important person in Oregon wine culture – while making a difference in the lives of students – is special for her and for the school.
She added that the high school may partner with the winery in the future for hands-on learning experiences that teach students about viticulture. Those experiences could be part of the CTE program and include information about jobs and apprenticeships in the industry as well.
For now, though, the district and high school are happy to express their gratitude for a sizeable donation. Crawford's legacy, in their view, lives on through this wine and the money it generated for students.
"We are so thankful to Steve and the vineyard for donating money to the school and to CTE programs," Erion said. "He sees value in educating students and doing so in non-traditional ways. We are very appreciative of his investment and the fact that this endeavor is an extension of our community.
"We live and work in wine country, so the fact that the money is coming back to us in this way is really special."
Online learning open houses set in April
The Chehalem Online Learning Alliance (COLA) is hosting free, informational open houses for parents on April 23. If your student is homeschooled or traditional school is not meeting their needs, COLA invites parents to come learn about the program.
COLA is a hybrid virtual and real-world classroom experience. Open houses are 3 to 4 p.m. in the COLA Classroom at 600 E. Sixth St. in Newberg and 6 to 7 p.m. at Catalyst Academy on 1421 N. Deborah Road.
Parents can attend either session.
For more information, contact Christy Smith at 503-554-4721 or visit www.newberg.k12.or.us/district/chehalem-online-learning-alliance.
Local students named to honor roll
Dozens of local students made the honor roll at Oregon State University for the winter term.
3.5 GPA or better: Madison Bechtold, Derek Harber, Connor Lambert, Hannah Smith and Michael Sproul.
4.0 GPA: Tasman Flora, Lauren Guidry, Margaret Halstead, Patrick Herron, Victoria Saager, and Melissa Swanson.
3.5 GPA or better: Teija Atkinson, Megan Black, Kaycie Blohm, Claire Boenisch, Isabel Bridges, Nicholas Broce, Mikayla Farr, Cody Fettig, Brooklyn Kasler and Madison Kent-Harrington, Raena Kernodle, Tia Lattanzio, Colten Lemos, Lindsay Louis and Jodi Luft.
Also, Kaitlyn McElderry, Logan Neeley, Kaden Ogles, Paityn Peterson, Alex Radcliffe, Isabel Roman-DeChenne, Benjamin Rose, Daniel Roth, Dustin Roth, Colin Schulz, Jordan Skoubo, Trevor Spear, Naivit Velazquez Sereno and Jacob Werger.
4.0 GPA: Cameron Stone.
3.5 GPA or better: Elizabeth Brentano, Sydney Brentano, Holden Smith, Jessica Stone and Keenan Wood.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)