– Julia Crowley

Party Shuttle

As described on their Facebook fan page, “Sam’s Party shuttle is the Premier Destination Fun Bus”. It’s true, and I know first-hand because I joined in on one of these premier destination parties: Girl’s Day Out.

The excursion on the ultimate party shuttle for Girl’s Day Out was a special trip for ladies to visit 3 fabulous South Willamette Wineries: Pfeiffer Winery, LaVelle Vineyards, and Domaine Meriwether. For $45 per person, lunch and wine would be provided at Pfeiffer, there was a free Olive Oil Tasting Bar presented by Olive Grand at LaVelle Vineyards along with samples of LaVelle wines, and Domaine Meriwether specially prepared a dessert to go along with their highly acclaimed sparkling wines.

Sam's Place Tavern in West Eugene

Sam’s Party Shuttle resides at Sam’s Place Tavern, a sports bar located in West Eugene. The group was to meet inside the bar between 11:30am and noon, and the shuttle was scheduled to leave Sam’s at noon. My friend and I had never been to Sam’s Place Tavern before, but we both agreed that it would be one of the best places in town to watch Duck games, they even had booth seating that boasted their own TV sets. Once all of the ladies arrived, we headed outside to load onto the shuttle. Denise, who was our tour guide, gave each one of us a beautiful rose as we loaded onto the bus.

cozy & inviting - Pfeiffer tasting room

The shuttle had large picture windows, and seated 22 people comfortably, and once we started out towards Pfeiffer Winery, Denise was ready to begin a wine trivia game. The lucky winner from each leg of the trip would win a purple feathered tiara lined with rhinestones…to be worn the rest of the day! The wine trivia game was an excellent way to break the ice between strangers and get us all laughing as a group.

LaVelle Winery

Pfeiffer Winery is located in Junction City, and the intimate, boutique tasting room is similar to a candle-lit Tuscan cave. Tastefully decorated with inviting, comfortable furniture and a cozy fireplace, I was ready to taste some wine and indulge in the lunch Danuta Pfeiffer had waiting for us. With our ciabatta sandwiches and pasta salad, we were able to choose from selected Pfeiffer wines, and I chose their Viognier. Crisp and refreshing, the well balanced Pfeiffer Viognier exudes a lime zest on the lasting finish that makes it stand out from other Viognier’s. Great with a variety of foods, its crispness allows it to be consumed all on its own. After lunch, we walked outside to see their newly landscaped outdoor seating amid a gorgeous water garden with ponds and water features all set within the vineyard.

Olive Grand Olive Tasting Bar

Our next destination was LaVelle Vineyards in Elmira. The property at LaVelle Vineyards is beautiful with lush grassy lawns and architecturally pleasing landscaping. But in the spring, it’s especially beautiful because their Cherry Blossom trees are in full bloom. When we entered the tasting room, Olive Grand had a table set up with fresh berries and bite sized pieces of baguette. They were sampling several of their popular olive oils and balsamic vinegars, but the one combination that has stuck with me and is a new favorite, is the Blood Orange Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar. Olive Grand’s retail shop is located in downtown Eugene at 1041 Willamette St., and if you haven’t experienced their extensive selection of gourmet goodness yet, I highly suggest you take some time to go. You won’t be disappointed. The wine servers at LaVelle were ready with several samples for us.

Cherry Blossom in full bloom

Their Pinot Gris is unoaked and fermented in stainless steel. It’s crisp and dry with citrus and melon flavors, and perfect for the upcoming summer months. Their Pinot Noir is aged in oak for 9 months, and it’s earthy with hints of vanilla and strawberries. One of my favorite LaVelle wines is the Cabernet Sauvignon, it is fruit forward and has bold flavors of ripe blackberries and plums, and I’ve celebrated many holidays with a bottle of their Cab. I was also lucky enough to get a sneak sip of the newly released Matthew’s Reserve Pinot Noir, and I knew right away it was my new favorite from LaVelle. The fruit forward flavors of cherries and the hints of vanilla come together perfectly to create a silky smooth lasting finish, it’s a stellar Pinot Noir. My friend and I decided to share a bottle of the Matthew’s Reserve, and we grabbed a table outside near the Cherry Blossom tree and thoroughly enjoyed every sip.

Set up and ready for Bubbly 101

On to our next destination with more wine trivia and a whole load of laughter, we headed towards Veneta, to Domaine Meriwether. Domaine Meriwether is known for their world renowned line of sparkling wines, and when we arrived, the tables were covered with linens, each with a fresh tulip centerpiece. We took our seats, and Buzz Kawders, owner of Domaine Meriwether, gave us a surprise “Bubbly 101” class. We learned about method champenoise and the entire process of making sparkling wines, all while sampling some of Buzz’s finest. We were also treated to a delicious chef prepared cheesecake with Buzz’s NV Cuvee Glace drizzled on top. I noticed that no one had a single crumb on their plate when we were finished. It was truly a delectable dessert, and absolutely delicious with Domaine Meriwether sparkling wines.

As we departed Domaine Meriwether and headed back to Sam’s Place Tavern, everyone was raving about what a spectacular day it was. I knew I was going to be writing about ‘Girl’s Day Out’, so I asked some of the ladies to write down what they thought about their day out at the wineries on Sam’s Party Shuttle. Word for word, here is what they gave me, titled “The Wine Wars”:

Wine Wars!

“The day started at Sam’s Place…Everybody had a sober face.

Got on the bus at noon…When we couldn’t answer right, we knew it was doom.

O’ the pressure to answer the question just right….Led us to believe we would never achieve our great knight.

All of a sudden, the bar was set high… Then princess Nystrom began the great fight.

The fight was intense, Rebecca chimed in… Then ultimately stole the primary win.

There were those of us that came up with jack… And then there were those that tried to fight back.

Then Pfeiffer served up sandwiches and Gris… We left behind chocolate in our hurry to flee.

On our way to LaVelle Dutchess Christine… Dazzled us all with her performance pristine.

The Cab was divine and oh, so fine… But the Matthew’s Reserve was incredibly sublime.

Buzz of Domaine Meriwether - serving up some Bubbly 101 education

Olive Grand was there with berries to share… And what a surprise it made a great pair!

Mindy gave in to the alcohol within… And pulled off the last tiara win!

Meriwether was bubbling and sparkling to boot… Buzz was entertaining and such a great hoot.

Chef Garrett created an elicit surprise… And served a dessert that romanced our palates and eyes.

We got on the bus…Sam’s Place bound…Picking our last drink with our new friends found.”

Sign up for one of these premier destination and totally fun tours. Sam’s Party Shuttle offers winery tours, brewery tours, Christmas Light tours, Pub Crawls and is always available for private parties. Become a fan on their Facebook page for contact information and upcoming events and tours:

Julia – Writing about Eugene’s Wine Scene