Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene April 9-15

I can’t sit down to write this week’s Wine Down Eugene without mentioning the weather we’ve been having the past few days.  Words cannot describe my excitement for the rosy, sun-kissed cheeks I’m sporting – I look, and feel, totally alive! Indeed, I am a sunshine lovin’, wine drinkin’ gal, that is a fact.

This particular rack displays two bottles of wine that lie down, keeping the cork moist, along with a stemware holder.  Check out that hardware | photo: Julia Crowley
This particular rack displays two bottles of wine that lie down, keeping the cork moist. Check out that hardware | photo: Julia Crowley

There’s something else that has me all excited: local artisans’ creativity.  First off, my friend and co-worker here at Eugene Daily News, Sandy Harris – talented writer, photographer and glove designer – came to visit me from Brownsville, bringing in tow with her two of the most fabulous locally made, hand-crafted wine racks I have ever seen.

A couple days prior to Sandy coming to my house, she had sent me some photos of these fabulous wine racks, but until I saw them in person, I had no idea how totally awesome they actually were.

Designed and built wholly by Sandy’s landlord, Gary Compton (who happens to live across the street from her in Brownsville), these wine racks are like nothing I’ve ever seen.  Solidly engineered with precision from reclaimed barn wood, there’s no chemical treatment whatsoever and every crevice and grain of the wood, undoubtedly, has a story to tell.  The galvanized piping used to display bottles of wine, stemware and bar ware are all reclaimed materials, and the finished product is most certainly “rustic meets refined.”

This rack displays bottles in the upright position. It has stemware holders like the other one, but also knobs for hanging barware: towels, corkscrews, etc... | Julia Crowley
This rack displays bottles in the upright position. It has stemware holders like the other one, but also knobs for hanging barware: towels, corkscrews, etc… | Julia Crowley

Gary designs and constructs other rustically refined stuff; such as, benches, tables and kitchen islands, but these wine rack displays are over-the-top awesome.  Every detail had to be meticulously thought out and measured.  From where the neck of the bottle lies down behind the curve of a pipe, to where the bottom of the bottle hits a connection from one pipe to another – the bottle is held, perfectly, in place.  And I was super happy to discover that the piping used for the wine glass rack held my beloved Zalto Burgundy and Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glasses entirely flawlessly – each larger than the average wine glass.

Gary sells his products through, under the name HammerHeadCreations, and looking through his timeless pieces of ingenuity is well worth a visit to his etsy page.

Once Sandy and I photographed the wine racks so I could write about their awesomeness here on Wine Down Eugene, we pulled the cork on the bottle of Winter’s Hill 2012 Pinot Noir we had used for the photos – what a stellar wine to enjoy on the patio during a sunny and gorgeous spring afternoon.  Dark cherries and blackberries highlighted by subtle earth and fall spices flowed along the palate with seamless precision, reminding me of the engineering of the wine racks I had just fallen head over heels for.  Beautiful acidity rounded out the fruit creating a really nicely balanced wine with a long, palate pleasing finish ending with notes of toasty vanilla – perfect to sit back, relax and enjoy.

Just one of the many different styles of fingerless gloves handmade by Sandy. Many are multi-functional, some have bling and lots offer two different looks in one pair. Her etsy shop is a must see! | photo: Sandy Harris

Meanwhile, Sandy pulled out her creative fingerless gloves she herself designs and sews.  Last fall, Sandy gave me a pair of her unique elbow’s length fingerless gloves, and as a wine writer, I have used them numerous times while barrel tasting in winery cellars around the globe.  Wine writer’s take note: these gloves are perfect when on media tours.  Because they’re fingerless, I’m able to take notes on my iPhone, shoot photos of the wines being tasted, and hold onto my glass without fear of it slipping out of my hand – all while keeping my hands nice and toasty while down in the temperature controlled, often chilly cellars that we, as wine wrtiers, visit so very often.  A fashion accessory that’s certainly not just stylish, but incredibly useful in so many ways.

Like Gary, Sandy also uses etsy to sell her handcrafted gloves.  Because she designs and creates a whole lot more than just gloves, her etsy shop is a must see, check out Xtremities


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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