Karen and Blake DeBerry own Torr Na Lochs Vineyard and Winery in Burnet, Texas.
After two years of spending their weekends preparing the vineyard, Karen and Blake planted their first three acres of vines in April 2014. They began construction on the winery soon after and opened the tasting room in September 2015.
The evolution of a life-long dream
Karen and Blake, who met in the 6th grade and have been married nearly four decades, had been coming to Lake LBJ ever since they were kids. They had always known that this was the place where wanted to retire someday.
Well, retirement day finally arrived. The DeBerrys purchased their 180-acre ranch while living in Scotland. Their time living abroad inspired the name Torr Na Lochs, which loosely translates from Gaelic to Hill Over Lakes. The winery sits high above the Colorado River valley overlooking both Inks and Buchanan lakes.
What started as a fun, retirement project…
Karen and Blake’s original plan was to simply build a house on the ranch where they’d live out their retirement. However, on a wine tour in Australia, Blake and Karen noticed the similarities between the vineyards there and their ranch property back in Texas.
Blake turned to Karen and said, “Hey, you know what might be fun? We could build a vineyard and winery as a little retirement project.” And the rest was history.
A team effort
Part of what makes Torr Na Lochs such a success is how well Karen and Blake work together. “We've always been a really good team in everything we've done throughout our time together,” Karen said.
When it comes to job responsibilities, Karen loves working the land and managing the vines, whereas Blake’s strengths lie in running the wine production part of the business; his mechanical engineering background comes in handy.
“It works great that we're able to divide and conquer,” Karen said.
Farm Credit, a trusted partner
Karen and Blake have been working with Macy Blankenship, a credit office president at Lone Star Ag Credit, as they’ve conceptualized, developed and realized their dream of owning a vineyard.
“I can't even describe how important it's been for us to have such a great working relationship with Lone Star Ag Credit. I know I can count on Macy and Lone Star anytime we need something,” Karen said.
Karen and Blake’s relationship with Farm Credit intensified when they realized that business was growing faster than the wine they could produce. “We got the winery built and quickly realized that we did not build it large enough,” Karen said. “We just really didn't anticipate that we would become as popular as fast as we have. It became apparent that we were going to need a second building.”
Blake picked up the phone and called Macy, explaining the situation and she was ready to help. “It is really nice to have a relationship with somebody that is just incredibly helpful and makes it as painless a process as possible,” Blake said.
More than a loan on the books
For Karen, working with Farm Credit has been more than a business partnership, it’s been a collaboration.
“One thing I think that's really different between working with Macy and Lone Star Ag Credit is that it’s a very personal business relationship,” Karen said. “It's not like a lot of commercial banks where they just want to book the loan and never see you again unless you don't make your payment.”
It’s been an inspiring experience for Macy, too. “Karen and Blake are more than customers,” Macy said. “They've become family, and to watch everything that they've put on paper come to fruition, to be a part of that and to hold their hand through the process, it's a wonderful thing.”