The nation’s breadbasket produces more than wheat, and two area residents is using his grapes to honor the land that grew it.

Roy and Theresa Garrett, owners of Red Rock Hill Vineyard, wants to connect their wine to the region that produced it. Roy, a native of the Flint Hills, takes inspiration from the land and all its features.

“I wanted the labels to reflect the place where we live,” he said. “I like the labels to represent where these grapes are grown.”

Garrett planted his first vines about six years ago and started turning his grapes into wine last year. Red Rock Hill Vineyard is one of the members of 456 Wineries, Highland Community College’s winery incubator.

Garrett has planted more than 2,000 vines and four varieties of grapes. He uses the four types of grapes — Petite Pearl, Frontenac Gris, Itasca and Marquette — to make six types of wine.

Garrett grew up in Clay Center and attended K-State before moving to Texas, where he met his wife, Theresa. She also grew up in Kansas, primarily in the Manhattan area. They spent more than 20 years in Texas but always knew they wanted to move back to the Flint Hills. They bought land near Westmoreland with the intention of eventually retiring there, but they also wanted to do something with the land. Garrett heard a talk by Scott Kohl, director of Highland’s viticulture and enology program, and learned about the wine industry in Kansas.

“I didn’t know that was a possibility,” Garrett said.

The resulting winery, Red Rock Hill, is named for the red boulders deposited by glaciers on the Garretts’ property thousands of years ago. Garrett also names each wine after something connected to the Flint Hills or tallgrass prairie and designs the labels himself to reflect it.

Red Rock Hill’s most popular wine, Dickcissel, is named for one of the prairie’s residents.

“When I’m out there working in the vineyard, I can hear the dickcissel singing,” Garrett said. “And it’s an iconic bird of the prairie.”

Another wine, Wagon Trail, honors the area’s proximity to the Oregon Trail. Simon Says is named for a frequent guest to the vineyard.

“We’d get visited every night by this barred owl that would hoot and we named him Simon,” Garrett said.

The Garretts said running the business is more work than they initially anticipated, from planting to harvesting to marketing the final product. After planting, the vines must be pruned and the grapes picked before the winemaking even begins.

“Know what you’re getting into,” Theresa said.

To lighten the load, the process has become a family affair. Three of the Garretts’ five children are able to help, and Theresa’s father also joined in.

They used to sell grapes to others, but decided to jump in themselves when the market for their grapes dried up during COVID.

“We had to do something if we didn’t want to let the grapes rot on the vine,” Theresa said.

The Garretts are now preparing to release their second year of vintages. Garrett, who studied wildlife biology at K-State, said his favorite part of the process is being out in the field working with the vines.

“I like to see the rows straight, and I like to see everything pruned just right and I like to see the growth of the vines,” Garrett said.

Garrett said he could have picked a different theme for his creations, but connecting it to its home seemed a natural way to honor the region he loves and the creatures that live here.

“Nature and wildlife and the Flint Hills are important to me, and the history of the area,” Garrett said.

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