Home/Place with Ronni Lacroute

Home/Place is a Company Innovation project conceived by Jennifer Lin, designed to create a collaborative dialogue between artists and audience. The project began with an invitation for members of the community to submit images and text in response to three prompts: The home I was born to, The road I traveled, and The home I made. We are sharing these submissions, the foundational components of the project, as Home/Place continues into the next phase of development.

This submission is from Ronni Lacroute, a cherished member and supporter of the Portland arts community.

As for these photos, I selected them to show how life can lead you to places you never anticipated. The oldest photo, the B&W image of me as an infant reading a book with my mother, was taken in Port Chester, New York, where I lived with my mother in my grandparents’ house while my father served in the U.S. Army in the latter part of the Second World War. My mother instilled in me such a huge love of stories that I wanted to show the joy I derived from hearing her reading stories to me. Also, living in the suburbs of New York City was hugely important in my early years since my mother and grandmother brought me to the city frequently for theatre and concerts. I am very glad to have lived in New York for almost a decade at the beginning of my life.

The next photo chronologically shows me with my son and daughter hiking in the French Alps to connect them to the French heritage of their father. We never lived in the mountains, but the mountains always felt like a welcoming home and safe escape from the rushed lifestyle of the suburbs where we lived.

The vineyard photo shows me with my first vineyard manager Joel Myers when we first laid out a vineyard on a former horse pasture in Yamhill County back in 1991, which was my first experience with being a farmer, living in truly rural Oregon, and making a home on an enormous acreage. I fell in love with that land, every square inch of it, and came to understand the soil structure, the water table, the native plants that grew there, the wild animals that made their home there. There are some wonderful memories associated with those early days of learning all about that beautiful land. After I found arrowheads and grinding tools in the soil, I also took an interest in the life of the indigenous people who had originally lived on that land, probably people of the Kalapuya Nation.

The last photo shows me and Bernard (my former husband and business partner) hosting a winemaker dinner at our winery, Willakenzie Estate, which we built in 1995 on the same site as the vineyard. The winery became a true home to us since we spent most of our hours working there, welcoming guests, hosting wine tasting events, educational events, dinners, and even a PBS cooking show. We spent more hours there than in our house up the hill from the winery until we eventually sold the business in 2016.