Local wineries will be swinging their doors open for one of the South Willamette Valley’s most celebrated 3 day weekends: Memorial Day Weekend. Winery Open Houses will be happening throughout the valley, it’s the official kick-off to the summer season. Featuring, special releases, barrel tastings, live music, artisan treats and an endless flow of the areas hand crafted wine, from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to Brut Rose and Chardonnay, each winery entices us to head their way for a number of reasons. And with the recent openings of several urban wineries, it’s no longer necessary to head into wine country to celebrate the official kick-off of summer – some of the areas most prized wines can be conveniently experienced in town.
Whether you decide to head out to the gorgeous rolling hill countryside of the south Willamette Valley or hit the streets of downtown Eugene to check out Eugene’s thriving urban wine scene, here’s a list of some of the events not to be missed.
- Wine In The City – Sun. May 25, 2-6 pm. Presented by Eugene Urban Wine Circuit and South Willamette Wineries Association, six urban wineries and tasting rooms will be kicking off summer in style. Each tasting room location will be pouring 3 artisan small batch wines, showcasing live music, and featuring a local caterer or food truck. A guest winemaker/winery will also be featured at each location. Host Wineries include: Capitello featuring Stanton Vineyards, Eugene Wine Cellars featuring Opine Cellars, J. Scott Cellars featuring Gelardi Vineyards, Noble Estate Wines featuring Camp Creek Cellars, Oregon Wine LAB featuring Abbelone and Territorial Winery featuring 5H Cellars. Tickets can be picked up at one of the 6 particpating winery locations (must be 21 or older to participate) or purchased online at EventBrite.com. Wine circuit goers can check in at one of the 6 locations to pick up their logo wine glass and stamp card. Ticket holders MUST present either their online ticket confirmation sheet or their stamp card in order to participate. Eugene’s own My Party Bus will also be providing shuttle service between wineries/tasting rooms for $10 per person. You must be a ticket holder to use the shuttle service. To reserve your space on the shuttle, call My Party Bus directly at 541 554 7979.
- Domaine Merwiether – May 23-26, Celebrate Memorial Weekend at Domaine Meriwether beginning May 23, Friday night, for Sparkling Nights (6-9 pm) with music by the lovely Jen Sennett. Decorate your memorial lumineer in honor of loved ones who are no longer with us. A tribute walk through the vineyard starts at dusk. Enjoy food from Comforts Mobile Cuisine (available for purchase), and complimentary tastings of Domaine Meriwether Winery’s fine wines. This Sat.-Mon.: Come back for more Memorial Weekend festivities from 11am-6pm, admission is free, all food and drink is for purchase.
- Capitello Wines – May 23-24, 12-9 pm & May 25, 12-6 pm. Wine and Swine Memorial Weekend with exciting new wine releases, exclusive tastings of Capitello limited Reserve Pinot Noir & Brut Rose’ & and they’ve labeled up and re-released their popular (and extremely limited) 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Straw Wine! May 23, 6-8 pm Friday Night Live Music Series featuring Americana artist & folk blues singer Tyler Fortier. No Cover & Happy Hour extended to 8 pm (save $1 on any glass purchase). Artisan Fruit, Cheese & Cured Meat plates available all day & night. Sat.-Chef Elizabeth Stuart of Elizabeth Stuart Catering & Co will roast a whole hog in their lot and serve it up Cuban style with black beans, rice & salad for just $10 dollars. Sun.-Elizabeth is serving it up Suthahn style featuring pulled pork sandwiches with vinegar slaw and chips.
- Silvan Ridge – May 24-26, 12-5 pm, enjoy live music each day from 2-5 pm, free wine tasting, sale prices on wines and free admission.
- Chateau Lorane – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Wine at the Lake – enjoy this special event at our facility on the shore of beautiful Lake Louise. Sample over 15 different wines, bring a picnic or purchase picnic supplies.
- Bennet Vineyards and Wine – May 26, 12-6 pm, GRAND OPENING. Enjoy food, entertainment and of course wine. Check out the south Willamette Valley’s newest winery and tasting room. 25974 Highway 36, Cheshire, 97419. 541-998-3336.
- Brigadoon Wine Co. – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Enjoy an assortment of tapas and local artisan cheeses with the family produced wines. The 2012 Pinot Noir “Lylee”, 2013 Riesling, 2013 Rose of Pinot Noir, and the newly released 2013 Pinot Blanc will all be available for tasting and purchase. There will be a $5 tasting fee for the weekend. Bring a picnic and enjoy the family’s vineyard views and hospitality – a natural, peaceful setting like none other.
- Benton-Lane Winery – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Have your palate seduced by silky Pinots at the picturesque, family-owned estate Winery & Vineyard. Estate Tasting Fee – $7.00 for four wines, First Class Tasting fee – $7.00 for two wines. Each tasting fee is refundable with $20 wine purchase.
Meat and Cheese plates available for purchase daily. May 26 ONLY – Noon to 4 pm, gourmet pizza’s from our wood burning oven – $10 each. May 24-25, 1-4 pm live music with Jerome Monaco and band.
- LaVelle Vineyards – May 23, 6-9 pm, Friday Night Flights are back! Enjoy live music by Michael Conley and food offerings from VineCuisine. Each guest will receive a complimentary flight of 3 wines to start off the evening. Additional wine will be available for purchase. All guests are welcome to walk to the grounds, and even up to the Deck that overlooks the vineyard. As always, guests are welcome to bring their own food if desired.
- Sarver Winery – May 23-26, 12-9 pm. Enjoy live music a wood-fried pizzas all weekend. Open 7 days a week starting Memorial Day.
- RainSong Vineyard – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Enjoy new releases like ’12 Allie’s Rose’ of Pinot Meinier, ’12 chardonnay and ’11 Sparkling Rose’. Free tasting and complimentary appetizers. Tasting of their Barrel Bottling Wines. 20 percent case discount on all wines.
With three, and often four, days of events going on at the wineries and tasting rooms, this is a weekend packed with countless wine-centric events. It’s truly the ultimate way to kick-off a summer-long celebration of artisanal wine and Oregon wineries. But, know this: before I blow off the dust from my flip flops and sun-glasses, and unpack the boxes that have housed my favorite t-shirts and shorts for the last 8 months, I’ll take a moment to remember those who have fallen in battle fulfilling their obligation to the great country in which I live, and I’ll also be lighting a special lumineer at domaine Meriwether for my late father, “Colonel Maurice H. Leiser, USMA Class of ’54 – the wind beneath his daughter’s wings.”
The freedoms that I enjoy everyday are protected and ensured by men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect my country and what it stands for. After a moment of silence and heartfelt gratitude so deserving of our military, I’ll be ready to swirl, sip, and savor all that our stellar local wineries have to offer, and I will raise a glass to our American heroes.