Tera and Wesley Landman, new owners of Orcas Island Winery, arrived with their 2-year-old son Winston, at their new home this past January.
They had quit their high-profile jobs in southern California and set out to the Crow Valley property excited about the future and ready to get to work.
Then the snows arrived.
Like much of the island, the young family was snowbound in their home above the winery, unable to start the work that needed to get done.
“We could have seen it as a huge obstacle,” Tera said from the tasting room recently renovated with furniture from their California home. “Instead, I decided the island was trying to tell me something.
“The weather gave us the perfect opportunity to focus on family. We knew the schedule would get crazy-busy soon enough. The snow was wonderful and the very best thing that could have happened.
“It was beautiful.”
Once the snow melted, however, the Landmans rolled up their sleeves and got to work, eager to open the island’s only destination winery before the season started. In fact, Orcas Island Winery re-opened to the public, under their ownership, March 1 for weekend wine tastings.
Since that March opening, the visionary owners have poured themselves into the community, embraced the island, and bubble with excitement at the possibilities ahead.
The Landmans aren’t new to the Pacific Northwest. For years they vacationed throughout Oregon and Washington and last year decided to spend their Independence Day holiday in the San Juans.
“There was something about Orcas that spoke to me,” Tera shared. “It has a vibrant art scene (which is at my core) and everyone we met was so helpful and kind. At least one person flat-out told me we needed to move to Orcas Island.”
A week after returning from their July vacation, they saw the listing for the winery. A month later, they met with the owners with whom they had “immediate synergy.”
They closed the deal Dec. 26, 2018.
“Both Wesley and I ran hard and fast after college, landed high-powered, high-paying jobs that allowed us a comfortable lifestyle. Of course, we were also working 60-70 hour weeks,” she said, admitting it wasn’t the lifestyle in which they wanted to raise their young son.
“Having Winston changed everything,” she said.
Admitting that taking over the winery was a huge leap of faith, the Landmans have no doubt it was the right move.
“The island virtually shouted ‘community,’” Tera offered. “We simply could not ignore the overwhelming sense of serendipity we found every step of the way.”
A lack of experience in the wine business did not deter the duo from following their dream. Tera has years of experience in customer service and hospitality; Wesley brings a solid background in finance.
The new owner acknowledges that being a woman in the traditionally male world of wine-making can be a challenge.
“I believe in starting where you are, taking small steps and staying on course,” Landman offers. She embraces what she’s good at and is “the first person to admit when I don’t know something.” To that end, they have brought on Chris Lawler, a local to the islands and a 25-year award-winning winemaker as their lead winemaker.
“I know I can be a voice for women in agriculture, for women in wine-making. And no matter what the critics might say, I intend to prevail.” Tera also plans to be a voice for women in business believing that “reinvention is possible; that it’s all within you.”
The couple is also committed to supporting local businesses and suppliers, and the tasting room has many homegrown products for sale.
“Plus, we’ll be hosting a once-a-month book club, a candle-making workshop for holiday gift-making, concerts in the summer and more,” Tera said, adding that the facilities are also available for celebrations of all kinds. “We see the winery as a place where people connect. Connection and community over a glass of wine in a beautiful environment. What could be better? I am right where I’m supposed to be.”
Orcas Island Winery is open noon to 6 p.m, Wednesday through Sunday. Find them on Facebook, visit www.orcasislandwinery.com or call 360-797-5062 for more information.