Wine Down Eugene: Memorial Weekend

Wine Down Eugene for May 23-29

LaVelle's entrance to the winery

The official kick-off to the summer season at the wineries will be celebrated this weekend during the Memorial Weekend Winery Open Houses. Wineries throughout the state of Oregon will be swinging their doors open for wine enthusiasts to visit their tasting rooms and sample their finest wines. Many will have music, food, new wine releases and special prices, so it’s a great time of year to explore the celebrated wineries of Oregon.

Last year, I visited four wineries in the South Willamette Valley during a very rainy Memorial Weekend: Domaine Meriwether, LaVelle Vineyards, Sarver Winery and Silvan Ridge. I wrote about my weekends adventures in an article titled, “No Sunshine? Bring on the Wine.” This year, I’m hoping the weather will garner a title more like, “Enjoying Wine in the Blissful Sunshine,” but that will remain to be seen. We’ve had several weeks of unexpected summer-like weather, but the last two days have brought on a whole load of gray skies and pouring rain.

Benton-Lane stainless steel tanks

Rain or shine, I’ll be heading to the northern wineries of the south Willamette Valley this coming holiday weekend. My first stop will be at Benton-Lane Winery in Monroe where I’m sure to enjoy several award-winning wines in a beautiful tasting room with a view of the valley.

After Benton-Lane, I’ll head slightly south to the very new tasting room of Brigadoon Wine Company located in rural Junction City. The Shown family will be pouring three of their stellar Pinot Noirs in addition to a Sauvignon Blanc from special guest God King Slave winery out of the Southern Oregon wine region.

Next, I plan to visit a winery I haven’t yet visited: High Pass Winery. High Pass is just south of Brigadoon, and I’m looking forward to trying some new wines and visiting the only winery of the South Willamette Valley that I haven’t seen yet.  Also located in Cheshire is RainSong Vineyards, where I’ll be heading next to try their two new releases: a Methode Champenoise sparkling wine and a Rose’ of Pinot Noir. I’m planning to finish the day at the in-town, Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company, where I can listen to live blues by local musician Jerry Zybach while sipping on one of my favorite Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, Territorial’s Stone’s Throw Pinot.

Although I’ll be taking advantage of the many bounties of the outstanding wine country that surrounds my home town of Eugene, Oregon, I’ll also be thinking about and honoring all who have served and all who have fallen for this great country of mine. The freedoms that I enjoy everyday are protected and ensured by the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the United states of America and what it stands for.

Every year during this time to remember our heroes, I remember my Dad. A 1954 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Colonel Maurice H. Leiser was a true hero in more ways than one, and he will forever be in my heart.

Wineries & Vineyards – Memorial Weekend Open Houses

LaVelle Vineyards (winery in Elmira): Sat.-Mon. 12-6 pm, Free three wine flight tasting, free Olive Grand tasting on Sat., live music all three days with Michael Conley. Bring your own picnic or purchase one of these at the winery-Hummus plate or Vineyard Tour Picnic for 2 or 4 people. 89697 Sheffler Rd., Elmira.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co.: Sat. 2-10 pm with live music by Jerry Zybach from 5-8 pm.  907 West Third Ave., Eugene.

Brigadoon Wine Co.: Fri. – Mon. 12-5 pm, live music Sat. and Sun. with Alex Hagerty, appetizers, three Pinot Noirs and a special guest God King Slave 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. $5 tasting fee. 25166 Ferguson Rd., Junction City.

Wineries without Walls (wine shop & tasting room): Fri. 4-7 pm,  Memorial Weekend Wine Tasting Extravaganza featuring 5 wines and new releases from Cottonwood Winery; Sat. 2-6 pm, wine tasting featuring Eugene Wine Cellars and Fractal Cellars. This wine shop and tasting room showcases local wines and is located inside the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center in Veneta. 24949 Hwy. 126, Veneta.

Domaine Meriwether: Fri. – Mon., Celebration starts Friday night at 6 pm during Sparkling Nights with live music from Alex Hagerty; Sat.-Mon. open 11 am – 4 pm; Sat. and Sun. Live music with Apropos 12-3 pm ; Mon. 12-3 pm live music with Scott Pousche; Southern style BBQ with Philyaw’s Cookout. $10 entrance starting Sat. includes souvenier glass and four tastes. 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta.

Silvan Ridge Winery: Sat.-Mon. 12-5 pm, free tasting and special pricing with live music all three days; Sat. 2-5 pm live music with Barefoot Leroy; Sun. 2-5 pm live music with Mud Puppy; Sun 2-5 pm live music with Apropos.  27012 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

High Pass Winery: Fri.-Sun. 12-5 pm. 24747 LaVell Rd., Junction City.

RainSong Vineyards: Sat.-Mon. 12-5 pm, new release of Methode Champenoise sparkling wine and 2010 Rose’ of Pinot Noir. Barrel samples, appretizers, case discounts and new wine club launch. 92989 Templeton Rd., Cheshire.

King Estate: Sat.-Mon. 11 am – 9 pm, enjoy two free wine tastes and complimentary tours of the winery every hour on the hour. 80854 Territorial Hwy., Eugene.

Noble Estate: Sat.-Mon. 12-5 pm, $5 includes six wine samples (refundable with bottle purchase) and live music all three days. Cheese platters and BBQ sandwiches available for purchase. 29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., Eugene.

Pfeiffer Winery: Sat.-Mon. 11 am – 5 pm, new releases, Pinot Clinic and futures; Fish taco lunch available for purchase Sat. and Sun., $10 fee for white wine tasting, $14 for red and $20 for both with free gorgonzola torte for palate cleansing. Call 541-998-2828 for details on the Pinot Clinic.  25040 Jaeg Rd., Junction City.

Saginaw Vineyards: Fri. 6-9 pm, Friday Night Live in the Barn with Cascade Rye will be moved outdoors (weather permitting) 21 and over only; Sat.-Sun. 11 am – 5 pm with free wine tasting and appetizers – minors welcome. 80247 Delight Valley School Rd., Cottage Grove.

Benton-Lane: Sat.-Mon. 12-5 pm, live music 1-4 pm, Olive Grand olive oil tasting Sun. and Mon.  1-4 pm. $7 wine tasting fee. 23924 Territorial Hwy., Monroe.

Sarver Winery: Sat. and Sun. 12-9 pm, wine flight of six wines for $5 and live music both days. Food from Betty Rocker’s Street Kitchen will be available for purchase. 2600 Mayola Ln., Eugene.

Capitello Wines (at Domaine Meriwether): Sat.-Mon. $10 admission includes souvenier glass and wine samples. Case deal specials, new releases and live music. 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta.

Sweet Cheeks: Sat.-Mon. 12-6 pm, Complimentary wine tasting, local food carts, local art exhibit and live music. 27007 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Chateau Lorane: Sat.-Mon. 11:30 am – 5:30 pm, Fine Art and wine Festival held along the banks of Lake Louise. $12 fee includes wine tasting of over 20 wines, logo glass and live music. 27415 Siuslaw River Rd., Lorane.

Wine Bars, Shops and Restaurants

Heidi Tunnell Catering Company: Tue. Bakery 10 am- 6 pm, lunch from 11 am – 2 pm and dinner from 4-7 pm. The wood fired oven is back and wood fired pizza is available for Tuesday dinner; Thur. 6 pm, Thursday Night Dinners – this week is Fried Chicken. Doors open at 6pm with appetizers, beer and wine available for purchase. Boedecker, Domaine Meriwether, J.Scott and Capitello are just a few of the many excellent wines that are currently on the wine list. Read about these great dinners on Dinners are served family style, with one seating at 6:30 pm; For reservations call 541-895-5885. 182 South Second St., Creswell.

Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co.: Thu. 5-11 pm, live music starts around 7 pm with Dreamdog; Fri. 5-11 pm, last Friday Art Walk and live music starts around 7 pm with Manouche Noir. 907 West Third Ave, Eugene.

The Wine Place (Yachats): Fri. 4-7 pm Beer Tasting with Anthem Cider; Sat. 1-4 pm, Wine Tasting: Organic Wines; Sun. 1-4 pm, wine Tasting: Italian Wines; Mon. 11 am – 5 pm, Memorial Day Sip and Shop-a little bubbly will be offered while browsing the store. 373 N. Hwy. 101, Yachats.

16Tons (Supreme Bean): Wed. 7-10 pm, Trivia Night; Thu. 5-7 pm free wine tasting and 50 percent off wine by the glass; Every Sun. and Mon. 4-10 pm deals on growler and mason jar fills. 2864 Willamette St. & 265 E. 13th Ave., Eugene.

16Tons (Taphouse): Great selection of beer and wine. 265 East 13th Ave., Eugene.

LaVelle Tasting Room at 5th Street Market: Mon. – Sat. 11 am -9 pm, Sun. 11 am – 6 pm; Wed. 5-8 pm, half off glass pours for ladies; Thurs. and Fri. 6-8 pm, live music; Patio is open and dinner service has started again including a new menu with some foods from Marche. 296 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.

Bier Stein: Check back for upcoming events and specials. 345 East 11th Ave., Eugene.

Marché Provisions: Fri. 5-7 pm, Free weekly wine tasting. 296 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.

The Vintage: Great wine list with local and international wines, their house red is Wine By Joe Pinot Noir. Read the Local Lunch Gals review of The Vintage here.

Broadway Wine Merchants: Fri. 5-7 pm, Free Friday Wine Tasting; First Tuesday of each month – Cheese & Wine Tasting. Read about their wine and cheese events here. 17 Oakway Center, Eugene.

Falling Sky Brewing: Open Sun.-Wed. 11 am – midnight and Thur. – Sat. 11-1 am. Excellent selection of handcrafted brews and local barrel to tap wines. Check out the Local Lunch Gals review of Falling Sky here. 1334 Oak Alley, Eugene.

Sam Bond’s Garage: Opens at 4 pm. Live music, full bar featuring local wine and beer-in the heart of the Whitaker Neighborhood. 407 Blair Blvd., Eugene.

Papa’s Soul Food: Tue. – Fri. Noon-2 pm and 5-10 pm. Sat. 2-10 pm. Great southern soul food and Blues joint with local wine from Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company and beer from local breweries. Read the Local Lunch Gals review here. 400 Blair Blvd., Eugene.

Koho Bistro: Wed. Wine Wednesdays – 25 percent off bottles of wine – excellent wine list with local wines from Territorial, J.Scott, Kandarian, Meriwether and Silvan Ridge to name a few; Happy Hour daily from 5 – 6:30 pm $1 off beers on tap, well drinks and wine. 2101 Bailey Hill Rd, Suite L, Eugene.

Sabai Café and Bar: Wines by the glass, $6 and under; excellent local wines from Territorial, King Estate, Capitello and Benton-Lane; check out a review by the Local Lunch Gals by clicking here. 27 Oakway Center, Eugene.

Belly: Mon. 5:30-9 pm, Taco Night; Select and affordable wine list. 291 East Fifth Ave., Eugene.

Long’s Meat Market: Fri. 4-6 pm, free wine tasting with some cheese from their deli. 81 East 28th Ave., Eugene.

Sundance Wine Cellars: Fri. 5-7 pm Mario’s Frugal Friday free wine tasting; Sat. 5-7 pm, wine tasting with special guests. 2441 Hilyard St., Eugene.

B2 Wine Bar: Happy hour Mon.-Fri., 4-6 pm, and 9-10 pm. Ask about Eugene Wine Cellars new Red Blend. Loads of Northwest wines offered here. 2794 Shadow Dr., Eugene.

Excelsior Inn & Ristorante Italiano: Fri. and Sat. 7-9:30 pm, live music, no cover; Sun. Mothers Day Brunch with three seatings. Reservations required, call 541-342-6963; Mon.-Thu. 3-6 pm, Happy Hour. Extensive local wine list. 754 East Thirteenth Ave., Eugene.

Creswell Coffee Company: Fri. 7 pm, live music with Glen Levine; Sat. 7 pm, live music with Stubbs and Cobian; Nice wine selection here and occasional wine tastings. 116 Melton Rd., Creswell.

Café 440: Wed. all day, Wednesday Wine Flights, taste three whites or reds for $10.50; Mon. – Sat. 3-6 pm Happy Hour specials. For the Local Lunch Gals review, click here. 440 Coburg Rd., Eugene.

The Side Bar: Wed. Ladies Night, $1 off any glass of wine and $5 off a bottle of wine, great Oregon wine selection. 1680 Coburg Rd., Eugene

Ring of Fire Restaurant: Mon. 5 pm Wine Night Mondays-35 percent off all bottles of wine; Daily Happy Hour 4-6 pm. 1099 Chambers St., Eugene.

Soriah Cafe: Wed. 5 pm, *last Wednesday of the month only* Celebrate Wine Wednesday. Half off bottles of wine, including local notable names such as BrickHouse, Capitello, King Estate and Broadley. 384 W. 13th Ave., Eugene.

Authentica Wines: Tue. – Fri. 11 am – 6 pm, and Sat. 10 am – 5 pm. Wine tasting available every Saturday at the Wine Bar, and on the first Friday of each month during the Art Walk. With a focus on artisan, small production wines for every budget, you’re bound to find something you love at this wine shop. 766 W. Park St., Eugene.

Steelhead Brewery: Sun. – Sat. 11:30 am – 11 pm, open later on Fri. and Sat., In addition to their own wine, Steelhead Red, you’ll find almost 20 wines by the glass, including 5H, Hinman, Erath and King Estate. 199 East 5th Ave., Eugene.

Le Bar at 5th Street Public Market/Marché: Extensive wine list in bar located next to Marche Restaurant. 296 East 5th Ave., Eugene.

Mac’s at the Vets Club: Wed. 6-9 pm, Wine, Jazz & Variety Show with Gus Russell & Paul Biondi. A different Oregon winery is featured each week. $8 Burger and Brew night, too. 1626 Willamette St., Eugene.

Red Agave: Excellent wine list, including Oregon’s finest from King Estate, Territorial, Evesham Wood and Cristom, to name just a few. ’06 Territorial Capital T Reserve can be found here. 454 Willamette St., Eugene.

Cork and Bottle Shoppe: Fri. 4 pm, free weekly wine or beer tasting. The Cork & Bottle Shoppe is one of Oregon’s only liquor stores that carries a large selection of local and international wine and craft beer, in addition to liquor. 812 Beltline Rd., Springfield.

Café Zenon: Tues., Fifty percent off bottles of wine; Mon-Fri. 5-6:30 pm, $1 off glasses of wine and pints of beer. Find King Estates’ Domaine Pinot Gris and Capitello’s Sauvignon Blanc here at half off on Tuesdays. 898 Pearl St., Eugene.

Izumi Sushi and Grill: Izumi has great sushi and they offer local wine and beer from Hinman, King Estate, Ninkasi and Oakshire. 2773 Shadow View Dr., Eugene.

Sam’s Place Tavern: Sports bar with a wine list featuring excellent Oregon wines between $4 and $7 a glass – Henry Estate, 5H, Eola Hills and King Estate. 825 Wilson St., Eugene.

Cornucopia Maize Lounge: Daily happy hour 3-6 pm – “3/3/3 at 3″ special, three-dollar micros, wells and wine. 73 E. 13th Ave., Eugene.

Agate Alley Laboratory: Sat. 10 pm, Late Night at The Lab with $1 off glass pour wine, $3 well drinks and pints, $9.50 pitchers & appetizer special. Twenty-five varieties of wine for $25 dollars in addition to extensive wines list. 2645 Willamette St., Eugene.

Kiva Grocery: Wine department focuses on affordable Northwest wines, small European wines and organic wines. Ten percent off mixed cases, 15 percent off unbroken cases. 125 W. 11th, Eugene.

Café Lucky Noodle: Tue. 5:30-7:30 pm Wine Night – all bottles 35 percent off; complimentary wine tasting in the lobby; excellent wine list. 207 East 5th Ave., Eugene.

Granary Wine Bar:Wed. 5 pm, $5 glass pours of house white or red. Nice selection of Oregon wine here. 259 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.

Save the Date or Reserve Now:

Heidi Tunnell Catering Co: Thursday night dinners in their on-site event center. 6:30pm, doors open at 6pm. Extensive wine list by local, handcrafted Oregon winemakers and local beers as well; 2012 series Barn Dinner-reservations are now open, click here to make a reservation on line or call 541-895-5885. 182 South Second St., Creswell.

Red Agave: Jun. 6, Red Agave’s 10 Year Anniversary Reunion Dinner. Call for details and reservations 541-683-2206. 454 Willamette St., Eugene.

Julia has been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years. First through creating European wine tours, then opening her own wine bar, Julia loves writing about food & wine on her website,

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