Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene July 31-August 6

salmon bake
World-famous Salmon Bake at IPNC

I am still on Cloud Nine.  Last weekend, I experienced my first International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) – a three day, Pinot-centric wine and food extravaganza that takes place annually in McMinnville, Oregon.  With a plethora of information and adventures to share, from a Champagne Growers seminar with legendary Champagne expert Terry Theise to witnessing countless fresh-caught filet of Pacific salmon slowly roast above open flames during the world famous Salmon Bake, IPNC was much like dying and finding myself in food and wine heaven.  Absolutely the most spectacular wine event I have ever attended, memories of IPNC will forever be ingrained – it was truly an unforgettable event that I’ll be sharing in detail on my award-winning website,

For this weeks Wine Down Eugene, a slew of congratulations are in order for some of my friends in the wine industry here: Buzz Kawders, Lorrie and Eric Normann, Ray Walsh and Mark Nicholl. Changes are happening all over the South Willamette Valley, and I’m a firm believer in change is good.

Buzz and Meriwether fans
Buzz Kawders (right) and Meriwether fans. | photo: Meriwether facebook page

Buzz Kawders, congratulations on retiring! Buzz Kawders of Domaine Meriwether, one of my favorite wineries in our area, has retired from his ownership in the South Willamette Valley’s only sparkling wine focused facility (the still wines are excellent, as well). In a letter to his friends and wine club members, Buzz mentioned health along with his love for certain activities, people and places, taking precedence over running a business that (as anyone who’s owned a business knows), can be very stressful at times.

But, retirement couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for Buzz – long time friends, Lorrie Normann and her husband Eric, have taken over Buzz’s ownership in Domaine Meriwether, and Buzz couldn’t be happier.

Lorrie Normann at DM
Lorrie Normann (right) and Meriwether goer Judith Conrad | photo: Meriwether facebook page

Congratulations Lorrie and Eric Normann on acquiring a well-established, wonderful winery!  Many Eugeneans know Lorrie through her extraordinary accomplishments at LaVelle Vineyards and Sweet Cheeks Winery, but what they may not know is that both Lorrie and Eric have been in the vineyard side of the wine industry since the ’90s – they’ve got a stellar five acre vineyard of Pinot Gris perfectly situated just steps outside their back door. There’s no doubt their involvement, along with Buzz’s long-time business partner Ed Kittrell, will bring Domaine Meriwether to new heights.  I am excitedly looking forward to the bright future of Domaine Meriwether.

Over in Eugene’s free-spirited Whiteaker Neighborgood, changes are happening at Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company (another one of my favorite wineries): they’ve got a new winemaker.  Congratulations to Ray Walsh (owner of Capitello Wines and winemaker at Domaine Meriwether) on becoming the new winemaker at Territorial!  Ray’s track record of solid, noteworthy winemaking capabilities has earned him super-star status in the South Willamette Valley.  First through bringing worldwide attention to Oregon Pinot Gris as the winemaker at King Estate Winery and then through his own label (Capitello Wines) by producing high quality, stellar Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Dolcino and the Pacific Northwest’s first and only Straw Wine, Ray’s solid reputation and years of experience will undoubtedly be rewarding for Territorial.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co
Whiteaker’s Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co. | photo: Territorial facebook page

Not far from Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company, a new incubator/ winemaking collective urban Tasting Room and Winery project is well under way, named The Oregon Wine LAB.  Providing an avenue for consumers to taste and buy wine from many of our local wineries without walls, The Oregon Wine LAB will also offer full winemaking services.  Due to open in mid to late August, this new urban tasting room and winery will be the home to another one of my favorite local winemakers, Mark Nicholl.  Long time winemaker at Sweet Cheeks Winery, Mark is now focusing on his already established line of excellent wine: William Rose and Bootlegger Wines, congratulations, Mark! 

There’s definitely an excitement in the air with the changes that are taking place – Eugene and surrounding areas just keep getting better and better.  Don’t miss a beat, check out the featured event listings on the right hand side of Wine Down 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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