Originally posted March 30, 2021 on ExploreBigSky.com
By Patrick Straub
 EBS Copywriter

Wines are defined by years: a good one, a great one and an excellent one. And Boyd and Cassandra Teegarden, founders and owners of Oregon’s Natalie’s Estate Winery, have experienced some excellent years.

In 1999, the couple purchased 15 acres outside of Newberg, Oregon, with the goal of creating an artisan winery to produce world-class wines. Naming the vineyard Natalie’s Estate after their daughter, Boyd and Cassandra put their skills into nurturing vines, growing grapes and making some of Oregon’s signature wines. For the couple, 1999 was a great year.

Six years later, the Teegardens had the chance at another great year. In early 2005, they visited Big Sky for a summer vacation. While they fished the Gallatin River, the couple knew this place would eventually prove very special. Shortly after their initial visit they purchased a home in Big Sky and their roots grew, quick and solid.

“We have our business and live in Oregon,” says Boyd, “but our hearts are in Big Sky and Montana.”

Like their wines, the Teegarden’s commitment to the Big Sky community is full-bodied. Their Big Sky Collection—a pinot noir and a pinot gris—mirror the Teegarden’s connection to Big Sky. The wines are made in Oregon but are only available throughout Montana and, like Boyd and Cassandra’s rootedness in the Treasure State, the bottles do much more.

“These two wines allow us to give back to the community and resources we love,” Boyd says. “The Gallatin River is loved so much by so many that by donating wine to organizations like the Gallatin River Task Force, Natalie’s Estate can support efforts to preserve the river for future generations.”

Indeed, the company donates more than 10 cases a year of their Big Sky Collection of wines to GRTF as a way to aid the organization’s mission, which is to preserve and protect the Gallatin River watershed.

Not only do the Teegardens support GRTF through fundraising, but you can also find mud on their boots by assisting the nonprofit’s staff and their executive director, Kristin Gardner, with restoration and water sampling efforts.

“Kristin and the staff at the Task Force continue to do a remarkable job protecting the heartbeat of Big Sky, which is the Gallatin River,” Boyd says. “Our Big Sky Collection of wines is a small way we can help others give back to a place so special to so many. By purchasing the wines others help us to continue supporting the Gallatin River and the people who care about it.”

This commitment to preservation and sustainability flows through all of Natalie’s Estate’s wines. With the challenges that accelerated growth is bringing Big Sky, the Oregon wine country is seeing similar patterns.

“As the wine region thrives and expands, sustainable viniculture practices are essential to preserving the health and beauty of the place we call home,” Boyd says.

“Sustainability really means having a lot of biodiversity paired with socially equitable responsibility and business viability,” he adds. “We do that at Natalie’s Estate. It isn’t always easy and requires some hard work, but like protecting the Gallatin River for many excellent years to come, it is very much attainable.”

For specific food pairings with their Big Sky Collection, the Teegardens suggest the following from the Rainbow Ranch Lodge menu in Big Sky:

  • 2020 Big Sky Collection Pinot Gris paired with sesame-glazed Chilean sea bass
  • 2018 Big Sky Collection Pinot Noir paired with slow-cooked Colorado rack of lamb