King Estate

Wine Down Eugene

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Wine Down Eugene September 4-10

Although September is harvest month for Oregon wineries, wine enthusiasts may be surprised to know that many of the state’s wineries and winery associations put on exciting harvest events during this Autumnal Equinox month.

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Ripe and ready to be picked Pinot Gris

I’ve always felt that the best way for wine enthusiasts to celebrate harvest is to get involved – literally.  One hands-on harvest event that I’m really looking forward to this year is Kramer Vineyard’s 2nd Annual Oenocamp.  From the vineyard to the crush pad, I’ll be joining in as part of the Kramer crew for a day and assisting in harvest for the 2013 méthode traditionelle sparkling wine.  The tentative schedule has guests arriving at Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon, for coffee and pastries between 8:30 and 9 am.  From 9-10 am, we’ll harvest the grapes, and then we’ll all meet at the Kramer crush pad to saber a bottle of Brut, toast the 2013 harvest, and load the press with the harvested grapes.  Once the press is started, harvest goers will enjoy a catered lunch and take home a souvenir bottle of the 2011 Brut.

Since I’m what some may call a bubblehead (meaning I love sparkling wine), Oenocamp is the ultimate harvest experience for me. Taking place on Monday, September 16, tickets for this event are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.

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Freshly harvested Pinot Gris clusters

Another fun harvest event taking place Saturday, September 14, is the Carlton Crush Yamhill County Harvest Festival.  Wine enthusiasts can participate in a grape-stomp, wine thief relay race and barrel rolling competition.  With Midway games, helicopter rides, a magician and a watermelon eating contest for kids, this is an event that is great for all ages. There’s no better place than Carlton for an event like this; it’s a small close-knit community that is totally wine-centric and one-of-a-kind. There’s no entry fee or admission charge for Carlton Crush, for more information visit CarltonCrush.com.

Willamette Valley Vineyards are the pros at hosting grape stomp competitions.  Their 23rd Annual Grape Stomp and Harvest Celebration, taking place on September 21 and 22, is their most anticipated event of the year. Attracting visitors all over the country to their grape stomping competition, the winners will earn a trip to Santa Rosa, California for the World Grape Stomp Championships.  Costumes or team uniforms are encouraged, and there’s even a Kids Stomp, making this event fun for the entire family.  For more information visit, wvv.com.

For wine enthusiasts who want to enjoy the bounties of harvest (without obtaining wine stained feet from grape stomping or back aches from hand-picking grapes), check out Sarver Winery’s Lowland Cajun Boil.  Live music and a dinner to remember, each September the Sarver’s host a Cajun themed feast offering traditional gumbo and a Cajun boil filled with prawns, sausage, corn and red skinned potatoes.

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sorting line at Willamette Valley Vineyards | photo: Willamette Valley Vineyards facebook

For those that are wine club members at King Estate, one of their best events of the year happens in September: Harvest Moon Celebration. A true celebration of the season’s bounty, the four-course prix fixe menu is paired with library and limited wines, including dishes like Salad of Grilled Melon made with Ferns’ Edge Feta, Roasted Corn, Strawberry, Smoked Pumpkin Seeds, Watermelon Vinaigrette and Olive Oil-Citrus Cake made using Estate Blueberries, Rosemary-Honey Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream, Lavender Tuile.  With a menu that features fresh produce and foods from the King Estate orchards, gardens, charcuterie kitchen, and bakery; along with, high quality ingredients from local vendors, this is one event not to be missed for wine club members – it’s one of the many reasons why I’m a member, and the Harvest Moon Celebration is truly the ultimate way to celebrate the bounties that our beautiful region supplies for us.

For special wine related events happening in and around Eugene, check the Featured Events listings in the right hand column on Eugene Daily News often – these are updated as information is submitted to us.  For more wine events happening around Oregon, check out the Events tab on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.

 

No Power? No Problem. An Unpredictable Evening at King Estate

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Since 2006, I’ve been a Tower Club Member of our largest local winery, King Estate.  It was the first wine club I had ever become a member of, and I signed up for several reasons:

  1. I love the King Estate wines, and wine club members receive limited, special release and vineyard designate beauties.
  2. They have over-the-top members only special events like the exclusive tailgate parties at Autzen during football season; along with, annual events like the Crab Fest, Summer BBQ and Harvest Moon Celebration.
  3. Their seasonal, quarterly wine club release parties encourage me to take a break from writing and take advantage of Eugene’s beautiful wine country.
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Tower Club Summer Release Tasting at King Estate’s South Terrace

I also like to support local businesses that, in turn, support our local community.  From sponsoring FOOD for Lane County’s Chefs Night Out to fundraising dinners that benefit Eugene’s Cascade Raptor Center, King Estate shows their support in many ways and they are undoubtedly an asset to our community.

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King Estate Ranch House

Their most recent Tower Club release tasting took place while a life-long friend was visiting the Pacific Northwest for the very first time.  Traveling all the way from Massachusetts with her two young boys, I planned a mom’s evening getaway at King Estate where we would attend the release tasting, have dinner at the winery restaurant, and stay the night in one of the Estate Ranch Houses.  With all plans in place, a decidedly predictable evening turned out to be somewhat of a pleasantly unpredictable one.

We arrived at King Estate’s Visitor Center just after 4 pm to pick-up the key to the Ranch House. Visitor Center Manager, Austin Kumm, greeted us with a key and asked us to follow him by car to the house we would be staying in.  Heading down from the winery and through the vineyards, we drove past several gobbling turkeys as they trekked through the many rows of grapes that were just starting veraison (the onset of ripening in wine grapes).

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Ranch House kitchen

The cedar shingled farm-style house, with a welcoming wrap around front porch, was set among the vineyards and orchard trees with a view of the valley below – the perfect retreat for two hard-working mom’s that were seriously looking forward to some rest and relaxation (and a glass of King Estate wine, of course).

Austin gave us a tour of the home, which boasts a comfortable living room with fireplace, a gorgeous gourmet kitchen with breakfast nook, formal dining room, a game room with a pool table and adult beverage fridge (fully stocked with King Estate wine and local beer), and five bedrooms.

As soon as Austin bid his farewell, we popped open a chilled bottle of King Estate Pinot Gris and headed for the front porch.  Just before we walked out the front door, everything went silent, and we noticed the power went out.  I immediately thought to myself, “oh no, what did we do?”  Austin had left some contact phone numbers for us, so we phoned King Estate’s Maintenance man, Mike Wilton, and left him a message about losing power.  A few minutes later, Mike called us back to let us know that it wasn’t just us, but all of King Estate’s power had been shut down by the local electric company – a nearby fire was being fought by firefighters, so the power had been shut off for safety reasons.

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Ranch House porch with a view

With a sigh of relief (knowing that it wasn’t us that had caused the glitch in power), we continued to the front porch and poured ourselves a glass of the crisp, refreshing and delicious King Estate 2011 Signature Pinot Gris.  Filled with aromas and flavors of green apples and pineapples, the finish had a nice shot of lemon-lime zest that balanced out the tropical fruit characteristics to perfection – an excellent wine to sip on a hot summer afternoon.

Once we finished our glasses of wine, we drove up to the winery for the summer release tasting event, which started about an hour before our dinner reservations. Taking place on the South Terrace and overlooking the valley and vineyards below, it was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.  No one even noticed that the power was out, and as usual, servers brought around trays of delectable foods to pair with the just-released wines: Zucchini Fritter and Minted Yogurt, Caprese Spiendini made with Estate Cherry Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella, Bruschetta with Nuvola Cheese and Blackberry Jam, and delicious Wood Fired Pizzettes with a variety of toppings. No power? No problem.

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A surprise visit from Chef Nadolny lands us a tray full of delicious foods, like this fresh tomato salad.

Since the power was still turned off as we approached our dinner reservation, we realized we would need to make alternate plans for dinner.  Luckily, Tower Club and Direct Sales Manager, Elizabeth Allcott, said she would talk to King Estate’s Executive Chef about putting a picnic basket together that someone could deliver to the Ranch House for us.  Knowing we had a comfortable front porch with an amazing view waiting for us back at the house, we were eager to return and enjoy what was left of the Signature Pinot Gris we had opened earlier.

Not long after we returned to the ranch house, Executive Chef Benjamin Nadolny arrived with an impressive delivery of delectable foods: sandwich fixings with fresh house made charcuterie and bread, local cheeses and crackers, freshly picked vine ripened tomato salad and several Pâté selections. Chef Nadolny, passionate about food, explained in detail about each of the dishes he had prepared.  Surprised by his youth, we couldn’t help but be completely impressed with his enthusiasm and obvious talent.  Feeling quite fortuitous, we enjoyed every bite of food (and every sip of Pinot Gris) while we watched the Blue Moon, a second full moon in a month that is extra full, rise up over the hills beyond the valley.  Having no power was certainly no problem for Chef Nadolny, and as content as we were, it was no problem for us either.

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The barrel stave hammock that was calling my name

Just as the Blue Moon got high enough in the sky to provide ample lighting of the evening’s darkness, the power came back on.  With an iPod docking station next to the pool table, we turned on some tunes, played some pool, and popped the cork on one of the wines that were included in the wine club release.  Of the three excellent wines I had received (which we had sampled at the release party), 2012 Backbone Pinot Gris, 2010 Backbone Pinot Noir and 2010 Rose Rock+Zena Crown Pinot Noir, we opened the lush and silky 2012 Backbone Pinot Gris, filled with rich aromas and flavors of peaches, pears and melons – a perfect wine to be enjoyed all on its own.

The next morning, while my friend enjoyed quiet time on the porch with a cup of coffee, I lounged in a hammock that was strategically placed among some old growth trees not too far from the Ranch House.  Made from wine barrel staves, I thought it wouldn’t be the most comfortable hammock.  My initial thoughts were proved wrong once I was horizontal and looking up at the tops of the trees and the gorgeous blue skies – much to my surprise, it was one of the most comfortable hammocks I’ve ever kicked-back in.  But, that wasn’t all that surprised me.  Just feet away, two very large red tailed hawks came tumbling down from one of the tree tops, fighting over a rodent or some other poor creature they had between each others beaks.  I laid completely still, watching their intense battle – an unbelievable sight to see just feet away.

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rest + relax time at King Estate

As predictable as I thought our get-away to King Estate was going to be, it turned out to be far more interesting and fun than I had imagined.  We were certainly relaxed and well rested by the time we returned back to our kids, where we packed up and headed for another unpredictable getaway – this time to the Oregon Coast and California’s Redwoods.

For detailed notes on all of the wines we tried during the release tasting, visit my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.

Wine Down Eugene

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Rainbow over King Estate Vineyards - Photo courtesy King Estate

I ended my post in last weeks Wine Down Eugene with, ” With only three days into the new year, blue skies, and an Oregon Duck Rose Bowl win; 2012 in the Willamette Valley has had a stellar beginning.” Yes, the first week was incredibly notable: Ducks won the Rose Bowl, beautiful blue skies graced a warmer than average Eugene January and Ninkasi Beer and Brooks Winery wines were immensely enjoyed during Cheese Wars III: Wine v. Beer.

Then week two of 2012 came along. It started with the sniffles and quickly turned into a high fever which later resulted in a dreaded visit to the emergency room. While nostalgically sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s school teacher, the doctor lectured me as if I were a lazy Sally Brown for not getting my flu shot this season. He proceeded to tell me, “you need to take it easy, watch some TV and drink lots of fluids…wah, wah..wahhh, wah, wah.” I was tempted to ask him if I should go to beanbag camp, but declined to do so since he looked too young to be a Charlie Brown fan.


Since that visit to the emergency room, I’ve been wrapped up in my Oregon Snuggie for what seems like endless days. My laptop feels much like an extension of my ‘lap’ and my favorite mug, that’s been refilled a hundred times with hot tea, is now a permanent fixture on my nightstand. Even though I’ve been confined to the indoors, my laptop and access to the world wide web has given me amazing views of the outdoors.

Sweet Cheeks Winery posted a breathtaking picture of the sun rising above a fog covered Briggs Hill Valley. A friend stood on her deck in the morning to take a picture of the sunrise, and later took a picture from the same spot of the moon rising. Odell Cabincats posted a serene sunset captured above Odell Lake, and King Estate perfectly timed a shot of a rainbow cast above the vineyards.

Sunrise at Sweet Cheeks Winery

As I live vicariously through these snap shots of Oregon, I’m thankful I have a portal to the outside world and am able to witness the beauty unfold around me even though I can’t be there in person. Although my second week of 2012 hasn’t been nearly as active as my first, there’s still proof that, so far, it’s been pretty awesome around here in the South Willamette Valley.

Wine Bars & Wine Shops

June Restaurant and Bar: Wed. 5-6 pm, NEW~Wine Wednesdays featuring 25 percent off of all bottles from their Northwest focused wine list. Tue. – Sat. 5-6 pm Happy Hour. 1591 Willamette St., Eugene.

16Tons (Taphouse): Thu. 4-6 pm. Flat Tail Mustache Rye’d Release and Free Tasting. They will tap their last keg of Local’s Only Plum Wit and at least 3 other unique Flat Tail Beers. 265 East Thirteenth Ave., Eugene.

16Tons (Supreme Bean): Thu. 6-9 pm, Eugene Pinot Club, free wine tasting. Join Jessica and guests for free tasters of several great wines. Artisan cheese plates and specials. 2864 Willamette St., Eugene.

Wineries without Walls (wine shop & tasting room): Sat. 4-6 pm, wine tasting featuring a Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from seasoned winemaker Bill Kremer’s new venture with his very own label: 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.The last tasting event and the last day the shop will be open for 2011.

Café Soriah: Wed. celebrate Wine Wednesdays. All day half off bottles of wine, including local notable names such as BrickHouse, Capitello, King Estate and Broadley. 384 W. 13th Ave., Eugene.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co.:
Thu. 5-11 pm, music starts around 7 pm with The Porch Band (Americana); Fri. 5-11 pm, music starts around 7 pm with Sean Peterson Jazz Experiment; January Art: Valisa Higman. 907 West Third Ave., Eugene.

LaVelle Club Room at 5th Street Market: Wed. 5-8 pm, half off glass pours for ladies; Thurs. and Fri. 6-8 pm, live music. 296 E. 5th 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.

Capella Market: Fri. 4-6 pm. Beer tasting with Widmer Brothers (Portland). 2489 Willamette St., Eugene.

Ambrosia Restaurant and Bar: Mon. – Fri. 4-6 pm Happy Hour, tap beers $2 and house wines $4.50. 174 East Broadway Ave., Eugene.

Broadway Wine Merchants: Fri. 5-7 pm, Free Friday Wine Tasting; 17 Oakway Center, Eugene.

Sundance Wine Cellars:  Fri. 5-7 pm, Frugal Friday wine tasting with Mario; Sat. 5-7 pm, wine tasting featuring local and regional wines; 2441 Hilyard 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: This new bar has an incredible wine list. 296 East 5th Ave., Eugene.

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

Café 440: Wed., all day. Wednesday Wine Flights, taste three whites or reds for $10.50. 440 Coburg Rd., Eugene.

B2 Wine Bar: Mon. 6 pm, live music with Second Mouse; Happy hour Mon.-Fri., 4-6 pm, and 9-10 pm Loads of Northwest wines offered here. 2794 Shadow Dr., Eugene.

Red Agave: Excellent wine list, including Oregon’s finest from King Estate, Territorial, Evesham Wood and Cristom, to name just a few. It’s impressive. 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.

Jiffy Market: Fri. 5-7 pm, free wine tasting, house picks and pours; Sat. 6-10 pm, purchase a whole sandwich from the deli and receive a Ninkasi pint for $2. 3443 Hilyard St., Eugene.

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.

Sabai Café and Bar: Wines by the glass, $6 and under; excellent local wines from Territorial, King Estate, Capitello and Benton-Lane. 27 Oakway Center, 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. 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., all day, $5 glass pours of house white or red. Find Patchwork Cellars’  delicious Pinot Noir here. 259 E. 5th Ave., 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.

Wineries and Vineyards

Spencer Creek Cellars/McBeth Vineyards: January through March, by appointment only,
Wine Tastings in the Barn. 541-521-4381. 85162 McBeth Rd., Eugene.

Sweet Cheeks: Fri. 6-9 pm, Twilight Tasting, sample pairings of Sweet Cheeks wine with Oregon-made artisan cheeses while listening to live music; Sun. 12-6 pm, Mimosa Sundays, Fine sparkling wine and live music from 2-4 pm. Bring your own brunch. 27007 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Domaine Meriwether: Daily 11 am – 4 pm, world renowned Meriwether and Capitello wine can be sampled in the tasting room. 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta.

Benton-Lane Winery: Mon. – Fri. 11 am – 5 pm, enjoy one of the Top 100 wines of the world: Benton-Lane 2010 Pinot Gris. Available in the tasting room by taste, glass or bottle. 23924 Territorial Hwy., Monroe.

Pfeiffer Vineyards: Open Mon.-Thu. 11 am – 5 pm and Fri./Sat. 11 am – 9 pm, Watch the games on the big screen in the tasting room while sipping Pfeiffer wine by the fireplace. 25040 Jaeg Rd., Junction City.

Silvan Ridge Winery: Open daily 12-5 pm, Fri. 12-9 pm, Complimentary taste of five wines in addition to several limited wines that may be tasted for a fee. 27012 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

King Estate: Open daily 11 am – 8 pm. Sample some of Oregon’s finest wine, dine on gourmet cuisine, and enjoy a valley view that’s unmatched. Their Acrobat Pinot Gris was recently Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Week. 80854 Territorial Hwy., Eugene.

Sarver Winery: Winter hours: Mon.-Thu. by appointment, Fri.-Sun., 12-6 pm. Sample the different styles of Pinot Gris produced from their 25-year old estate vines, along with full-bodied reds like Cabernet, Syrah and Petite Sirah while taking in an unobstructed view of the Cascades. 2600 Mayola Ln., Eugene.

Chateau Lorane: Open daily, 12-5 pm. Stop by and taste some of their multiple award winners: Melon De Bourgogne, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Asian Girl Merlot, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and their double award-winning Red Bordeaux blend, Entourage. 27415 Siuslaw River Rd., Lorane.

J. Scott Cellars: Tasting room located in The Wine Place in Yachats. Be sure to stop by and taste these excellent small boutique handmade Rhone varietals from the Pacific Northwest. Specializing in Roussanne, Viognier, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet…and a little Pinot Noir. 373 North Hwy. 101, Yachats.

Abbelone Vineyards: Another fabulous winery without walls; check back frequently to find out where you can sample their delicious Pinot Noir.

Brigadoon Wine Co.: Winter hours by appointment. Call 541-998-8708. Try Brigadoon’s three excellent wines: a Pinot Blanc and two Pinot Noirs, which can now be enjoyed on their lovely deck with a view, — or if it’s raining, you’ll be invited into their kitchen. 25166 Ferguson Rd., Junction City.

LaVelle Vineyards (winery in Elmira): Friday Night Flights is officially over for the winter season, but it will be back soon. Visit the winery daily, Mon.-Fri., 12-5 pm, and Sat.-Sun., 12-6 pm. 89697 Sheffler Rd., Elmira.

Saginaw Vineyards: Fri. 6-9 pm, Friday Night Live in the Barn featuring The Barkemeyer Brothers; Open daily, 11 am – 5pm. Sample their traditional style wines in their tasting room located in the original building of a 1905 farmstead. They also specialize in farm fresh fruit wines. 80247 Delight Valley School Rd., Cottage Grove.

Stanton Vineyards: Another local “winery without walls,” so keep an eye out for events where Charlie Stanton will be pouring his delicious wines. Bottles sold at Sundance, Market of Choice, Wineries without Walls in the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce & Authentica, and in restaurants Marché and Eugene Country Club.

Noble Estate: Open 7 days/week, 12-5 pm. Tasting room with beautiful patio and gorgeous view,. 29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., Eugene.

Briggs Hill Winery: A winery without walls. Check back frequently to see where and when they will be offering samples of their wine.

Iris Vineyards: Mon.- Fri., 11 am – 3 pm. Stop by their state of the art winery and tasting room in Cottage Grove. Three-dollar tasting fee includes free wine glass, cheese and crackers. 195 Palmer Ave., Cottage Grove.

Patchwork Cellars: Christian Fox, owner of Patchwork Cellars, pours his excellent wine at certain events around town. Check back often for his schedule of tastings.

Capitello Wines: Another local winery without walls, so keep an eye out on Capitello’s Facebook page for upcoming events and tastings.

Dylan’s Run: Another winery without walls. Keep an eye out for tastings at the Fern Ridge Chamber of commerce, Wineries without Walls.

Save the Date or Reserve Now

Silvan Ridge Winery: Jan. 19, 6 -8 pm. Evenings with the Winemaker- Quarterly educational and fun events with winemaker Jonathan Oberlander. Guided wine tasting will feature their Bordeaux varietals. Advance reservations required 541-345-1945. 27012 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Lane Events Center (Exhibit Hall): Feb. 10 & 11, Fri. 5-11 pm & Sat. 1-11 pm. KLCC Microbrew Festival. A microbrew tasting event to benefit KLCC 89.7 FM. 50 plus breweries serving 100 plus craft brews. 796 West thirteenth Ave., Eugene.

King Estate Winery: Feb. 14, Valentine’s Prix Fixe Dinner. Reservations required, call 541-9842-9874. 80854 Territorial Rd., Eugene.

Wine Down Eugene

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–Julia Crowley, EDN
So long 2011, it’s time to bring on 2012, and I am prepared to enjoy life more than ever. Today is the third day of the new year, and I’m still incredibly stoked about our Oregon Ducks winning the Rose Bowl game-what an outstanding, record breaking, nail-biting game! Congratulations Ducks!

Now that the holiday festivities are over, and we’ve finally boxed up and stowed away our Christmas decorations, I’ve been spending the day reflecting back on some of the many stellar wines I enjoyed throughout 2011. There was no shortage of delicious Oregon selections that were enjoyed with friends and family, but there’s at least one wine from each season that has left an everlasting impression.

My most memorable wine from the Spring of 2011 was the 2009 King Estate Signature Pinot Noir. Each year, my husband and I celebrate our anniversary with dinner and a bottle of wine at King Estate Winery. Even though the Willamette Valley got drenched for the most part of spring and summer, we were lucky to find ourselves sitting out on the deck at the winery for a brief one day pause of April rain. As usual, King Estate’s Pinot Noir was delicious, but I distinctly remember enjoying the creamy mouth feel and lingering finish.

In the summer, we headed over to our favorite camping spot on the Oregon coast. We could see the ocean from our site, and the salty air was surprisingly warm and without a breeze. While we watched the sun set along the mesmerizing burnt orange horizon, we sipped on a spectacular chilled white wine: Apolloni 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc. Another Pinot that loves the cooler climate of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this unique wine was made in the traditional Italian Pinot Bianco style. The crispness and bright acidity displayed in this floral wine were extremely refreshing, and we continued to enjoy Apolloni’s Pinot Blanc throughout summer.

In the fall, the colors that unfold and cover the landscape of the Willamette Valley never cease to amaze me, and this year our drive through the fall colored countryside that surrounds Eugene took us out to King Estate Winery for yet another King Estate wine that has no intention of leaving my memory…ever. The 2009 King Estate Bradshaw Vineyards Vineyard Designate Pinot Noir is one of the most outstanding Pinot Noirs I have ever had. It’s orange zest, pie spice and oak aromas showcased Willamette Valley fruit like none other, and its firm, well rounded tannins and jammy flavors were unmatched.

I think it’s safe to say I’m living in the perfect place for me, because the wine that I most recently enjoyed on New Years Eve was also a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Authentica Wine Shop had a free tasting on Saturday, December 31st of some excellent French Champagnes and still wines; however, I ended up taking home an Oregon Pinot Noir, which was a 2010 vintage from Bergstrom: Old Stones Pinot Noir. Although I initially thought a 2010 may be too young to thoroughly enjoy, the fruit forward flavors of cranberry, black cherry, cinnamon and earth, were showcased in its entirety: absolutely delicious and the perfect wine to celebrate the ending of 2011.

With only three days into the new year, blue skies, and an Oregon Duck Rose Bowl win; 2012 in the Willamette Valley has had a stellar beginning.

Happy New Year!

Wine Bars & Wine Shops

16Tons (Union Cafe/Supreme Bean): Thu. 5:30 or 8 pm, 2 sessions available for Cheese Wars III: Wine vs Beer, a benefit for Greenhill Humane Society. 2864 Willamette St. #500, Eugene.

Wineries without Walls (wine shop & tasting room): 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.The last tasting event and the last day the shop will be open for 2011.

Café Soriah: Wed. celebrate Wine Wednesdays. All day half off bottles of wine, including local notable names such as BrickHouse, Capitello, King Estate and Broadley. 384 W. 13th Ave., Eugene.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co.:
Thu. 5-11 pm, music starts around 7 pm with Tim McLaughlin (Tim and special guests jam); Fri. 5-11 pm, music starts around 7 pm with Strange Charm (Jazz Rock Blues); January Art: Valisa Higman. 907 West Third Ave., Eugene.

LaVelle Club Room at 5th Street Market: Wed. 5-8 pm, half off glass pours for ladies; Thurs. and Fri. 6-8 pm, live music. 296 E. 5th 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.

Ambrosia Restaurant and Bar: Mon. – Fri. 4-6 pm Happy Hour, tap beers $2 and house wines $4.50. 174 East Broadway Ave., Eugene.

Broadway Wine Merchants: Fri. 5-7 pm, Free Friday Wine Tasting; 17 Oakway Center, Eugene.

Sundance Wine Cellars:  Fri. 5-7 pm, Frugal Friday wine tasting with Mario; Sat. 5-7 pm, wine tasting featuring local and regional wines; 2441 Hilyard 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: This new bar has an incredible wine list. 296 East 5th Ave., Eugene.

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

Café 440: Wed., all day. Wednesday Wine Flights, taste three whites or reds for $10.50. 440 Coburg Rd., Eugene.

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

Red Agave: Excellent wine list, including Oregon’s finest from King Estate, Territorial, Evesham Wood and Cristom, to name just a few. It’s impressive. 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.

Jiffy Market: Fri. 5-7 pm, free wine tasting, house picks and pours; Sat. 6-10 pm, purchase a whole sandwich from the deli and receive a Ninkasi pint for $2. 3443 Hilyard St., Eugene.

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.

Sabai Café and Bar: Wines by the glass, $6 and under; excellent local wines from Territorial, King Estate, Capitello and Benton-Lane. 27 Oakway Center, Eugene.

June Restaurant and Bar: Tue. – Sat. 5-6 pm Happy Hour. Their wine list has some great local wines. 1591 Willamette St., 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. 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., all day, $5 glass pours of house white or red. Find Patchwork Cellars’  delicious Pinot Noir here. 259 E. 5th Ave., 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.

Wineries and Vineyards

Spencer Creek Cellars/McBeth Vineyards: January through March, by appointment only,
Wine Tastings in the Barn. 541-521-4381. 85162 McBeth Rd., Eugene.

Sweet Cheeks: Fri. 6-9 pm, Twilight Tasting, sample pairings of Sweet Cheeks wine with Oregon-made artisan cheeses while listening to live music; Sun. 12-6 pm, Mimosa Sundays, Fine sparkling wine and live music from 2-4 pm. Bring your own brunch. 27007 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Domaine Meriwether: Daily 11 am – 4 pm, world renowned Meriwether and Capitello wine can be sampled in the tasting room. 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta.

Benton-Lane Winery: Mon. – Fri. 11 am – 5 pm, enjoy one of the Top 100 wines of the world: Benton-Lane 2010 Pinot Gris. Available in the tasting room by taste, glass or bottle. 23924 Territorial Hwy., Monroe.

Pfeiffer Vineyards: Open Mon.-Thu. 11 am – 5 pm and Fri./Sat. 11 am – 9 pm, Watch the games on the big screen in the tasting room while sipping Pfeiffer wine by the fireplace. 25040 Jaeg Rd., Junction City.

Silvan Ridge Winery: Open daily 12-5 pm, Fri. 12-9 pm, Complimentary taste of five wines in addition to several limited wines that may be tasted for a fee. 27012 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

King Estate: Open daily 11 am – 8 pm. Sample some of Oregon’s finest wine, dine on gourmet cuisine, and enjoy a valley view that’s unmatched. Their Acrobat Pinot Gris was recently Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Week. 80854 Territorial Hwy., Eugene.

Sarver Winery: Winter hours: Mon.-Thu. by appointment, Fri.-Sun., 12-6 pm. Sample the different styles of Pinot Gris produced from their 25-year old estate vines, along with full-bodied reds like Cabernet, Syrah and Petite Sirah while taking in an unobstructed view of the Cascades. 2600 Mayola Ln., Eugene.

Chateau Lorane: Open daily, 12-5 pm. Stop by and taste some of their multiple award winners: Melon De Bourgogne, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Asian Girl Merlot, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and their double award-winning Red Bordeaux blend, Entourage. 27415 Siuslaw River Rd., Lorane.

J. Scott Cellars: Tasting room located in The Wine Place in Yachats. Be sure to stop by and taste these excellent small boutique handmade Rhone varietals from the Pacific Northwest. Specializing in Roussanne, Viognier, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet…and a little Pinot Noir. 373 North Hwy. 101, Yachats.

Abbelone Vineyards: Another fabulous winery without walls; check back frequently to find out where you can sample their delicious Pinot Noir.

Brigadoon Wine Co.: Winter hours by appointment. Call 541-998-8708. Try Brigadoon’s three excellent wines: a Pinot Blanc and two Pinot Noirs, which can now be enjoyed on their lovely deck with a view, — or if it’s raining, you’ll be invited into their kitchen. 25166 Ferguson Rd., Junction City.

LaVelle Vineyards (winery in Elmira): Friday Night Flights is officially over for the winter season, but it will be back soon. Visit the winery daily, Mon.-Fri., 12-5 pm, and Sat.-Sun., 12-6 pm. 89697 Sheffler Rd., Elmira.

Saginaw Vineyards: Fri. 6-9 pm, Friday Night Live in the Barn featuring Farmer Jimmy (Americana/Celtic); Open daily, 11 am – 5pm. Sample their traditional style wines in their tasting room located in the original building of a 1905 farmstead. They also specialize in farm fresh fruit wines. 80247 Delight Valley School Rd., Cottage Grove.

Stanton Vineyards: Another local “winery without walls,” so keep an eye out for events where Charlie Stanton will be pouring his delicious wines. Bottles sold at Sundance, Market of Choice, Wineries without Walls in the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce & Authentica, and in restaurants Marché and Eugene Country Club.

Noble Estate: Open 7 days/week, 12-5 pm. Tasting room with beautiful patio and gorgeous view,. 29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., Eugene.

Briggs Hill Winery: A winery without walls. Check back frequently to see where and when they will be offering samples of their wine.

Iris Vineyards: Mon.- Fri., 11 am – 3 pm. Stop by their state of the art winery and tasting room in Cottage Grove. Three-dollar tasting fee includes free wine glass, cheese and crackers. 195 Palmer Ave., Cottage Grove.

Patchwork Cellars: Christian Fox, owner of Patchwork Cellars, pours his excellent wine at certain events around town. Check back often for his schedule of tastings.

Capitello Wines: Another local winery without walls, so keep an eye out on Capitello’s Facebook page for upcoming events and tastings.

Dylan’s Run: Another winery without walls. Keep an eye out for tastings at the Fern Ridge Chamber of commerce, Wineries without Walls.

Save the Date or Reserve Now

16Tons (Taphouse): January 12, 4-6 pm. Flat Tail Mustache Rye’d Release and Free Tasting. They will tap our last keg of Local’s Only Plum Wit and at least 3 other unique Flat Tail Beers. 265 East Thirteenth Ave., Eugene.

Silvan Ridge Winery: Jan. 19, 6 -8 pm. Evenings with the Winemaker- Quarterly educational and fun events with winemaker Jonathan Oberlander. Guided wine tasting will feature their Bordeaux varietals. Advance reservations required 541-345-1945. 27012 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

Pinot, Pate and Unexpected Palatables in Portland

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Julia Crowley, EDN

When I heard about the Northwest Food and Wine Festival, I didn’t blink an eye before knowing I’d be planning a road trip up to Portland to bask in a plethora of two of my favorite things: food and wine. I wasn’t excited only about food and wine, but any time there’s an emphasis on food and wine from the Pacific Northwest, there’s no doubt you’ll find me there. Little did I know that I’d be in for a lot more than just food and wine.

The Northwest Food and Wine Festival took place at the DoubleTree Hotel Lloyd Center in downtown Portland on a Saturday evening, and the dress code was cocktail dresses for women and sport coats for men. The event began at 4 pm for those that purchased a ticket, which allowed early access to the Preferred and Grand Food and Wine Tasting. Regular tickets were slightly less expensive and admittance to the main event began at 5 pm.

At 4 pm on the dot, we entered the banquet hall where the event was taking place. We were handed a logo wine glass and then immediately drawn to a large attractive display of fruits and vegetables loaded with heirloom tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, asparagus, grapes and strawberries, to name just a few. Next to the vegetable and fruit display, there was a company from Napa Valley offering samples of its product, The Perfect Puree. Their colorful array of premium purees, concentrates and specialty zests are bases used for signature cocktails, mocktails and smoothies.

My first sample was a small spoonful of the Prickly Pear Puree. Exploding with natural, intensely rich and delicious flavors, I was told that all of the Perfect Purees were sourced from premium fruit that was harvested at the peak of season.

“We’ve developed strong and long lasting relationships with our growers and we support their sustainable practices,” said Carol Jenson, Regional Sales Manager for Perfect Puree. Jenson continued, “None of our products have artificial additives or sweeteners, they’re frozen to maintain the flavor and color of the fresh fruit, and they are all natural.”

Some of the other purees I tried included the Kiwi, Ginger, Mango and Roasted Red Pepper. I also tried the Blood Orange and Caramelized Pineapple Concentrates along with the Orange Zest. Each one was absolutely true to their own characteristics, and I was clearly impressed with these savory and flavorful treats. It was easy to imagine the Ginger Puree sauteed with scallops or the Blood Orange Concentrate blended with ice for a refreshing smoothie.

I was ready to try some wine, so we headed over to a table where I saw a familiar face: Jonathan Scott Oberlander, owner and winemaker of J. Scott Cellars. Oberlander is from the Eugene area, and I’ve been a fan his wines for a long time. His belief is “Wine is a form of consumable art, in which no two pieces are ever exactly alike. Rather, each wine is a snap shot of the growing season, mixed with specific varietal characteristics unique to each grape, and a small amount of human intervention.”

Oberlander was pouring some of my favorites from his line of unique, small boutique wines produced from Oregon and Washington fruit. We started with the Rogue Valley 2010 Viognier. With floral aromas on the nose, this white wine has great structure and balanced acidity with a long smooth finish. It’s simply delicious.

Another winery from the Eugene area that participated in this event was King Estate, and I asked for a sample of their 2009 Signature Pinot Noir. Awarded a gold medal from the judges for this event, the ’09 Pinot Noir has aromas of cherry, cedar and vanilla. Bright tannins and a silky smooth mouth feel lead to a lingering finish that complemented a slice of pate that I snatched from a nearby vendor.

I then noticed that almost every food vendor in the banquet hall was offering some form of pate, and I realized that the food portion and competition of this festival had a theme to it: Pate in Portland. I later found out that handmade pate, salami and meats are very prevalent in the Portland marketplace, and with no known pate competitions within the Unites States, Portland was the perfect place to tap into a niche that hadn’t yet been tapped. This event garnered two pate competitions: one for traditional pate and one for the most creative pate.

Pate are basically a mixture of fat and ground meat minced into a spreadable paste. Many pate include vegetables and spices, in addition to wine or brandy and some are baked in a crust. Most pate are made from chicken, beef or goose liver. The most common pate and probably the most beloved is Foie Gras, which is made from the fattened livers of geese.

Although I’m not one to cook or order any form of liver, I was surprised to find that I was enjoying many of the pate alongside Oregon’s earthy Pinot Noirs. One of my favorite combinations was Cottonwood’s 2009 Piper Marina Pinot Noir with a small amount of Foie Gras on a seasoned cracker. Cottonwood Winery is located in Salem, but the winemaker, Aaron Lieberman, is also well-known for his winemaking talents at Iris Vineyards out of Eugene.  The ’09 Marina Piper Pinot Noir received a silver medal from the judges, but I felt it was more deserving of a gold or platinum medal.

Pate definitely dominated the food arena, but I also tried other foods I wouldn’t eat on a regular basis. I experienced the spicy flavors of marinated Steak Tartare (raw beef) that was piled high on a piece of fresh bread, I slurped down a raw, but delicious oyster, and I not so eagerly tried a boiled Quail egg that was actually quite good – all this while sampling excellent wines from California to Washington that paired exceptionally well with everything I sampled.

As we walked around the bustling banquet hall, we came to an area where there was a bartender competition in progress. Five rather serious looking judges sat on stools in front of a bar where a single bartender effortlessly concocted cocktail after cocktail. The judges watched closely and took notes while the bartenders mixed, shook, and poured captivating drinks for the judges to sample. The winner of the competition was bartender Emily Baker.

“Emily Baker tends bar at Rum Club in Portland, Oregon, where she views cocktails as a way to express her creativity in a social setting. That, and she likes being in really close proximity to Tequila,” commented a representative of the festival.

We meandered through the crowds, intent on continuing our tasting spree when we came across Crispin Cider. Crispin Cider has an entire line of premium hard apple ciders, and with six different flavors to choose from, I decided to sample the four Artisanal Reserves: Honey Crisp, The Saint, Lansdowne, and Cho-tokkyu. These are not your average hard ciders.

The Honey Crisp contained pure organic honey giving way to a honey-rich, full bodied and creamy taste. The Saint is smoothed with pure organic maple syrup. Although it’s extremely easy to drink, it has a depth of complexity that was truly delectable. With Irish Stout yeast and organic molasses, the Lansdowne was my favorite of the four. It was buttery and creamy, but crisp on the finish, and the flavors created a well balanced, delightfully fruity cider. The Cho-takkyu is fermented with organic, gluten-free rice syrup and contains sake yeast which gives way to a sake-ish tasting hard cider. Really bright acidity, this would be great poured over some ice and served on a hot summer day.

Not only was there hard cider in addition to wine, but there was also an extensive list of vendors from hard liquor companies. Since I was being bold with my food selections, I thought I’d be bold with my beverage selections too, so I tried the Hogshead Whiskey from McMenamin’s-Edgefield Distillery. Named the ‘2011 Single Malt Whiskey of the Year’ by American Distilling Institute, this amber colored and rich whiskey was really very good. There was a slight vanilla sweetness on the palate that I’ve never tasted in whiskey before; however, I haven’t had an abundance of whiskey in my life time, so this experience was sort of new. I also tried their Pear Brandy which was created using 100 percent Hood River, Oregon-grown pears. McMenamin’s absolutely captured the flavor of the pears, and I’m now interested in learning about the world of brandy, something I’ve never delved into before.

Amazed at how quickly the four hours had passed, we were on our way out the door when I spotted the table that housed the line-up of wines from Willamette Valley’s highly acclaimed Van Duzer Vineyards. Located in Dallas, Oregon, Van Duzer produces a spectacular Estate Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but the bottle that caught my attention was one from Van Duzer I had never seen: Sorcery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Apparently the owners of Van Duzer, Carl and Marilyn Thoma, own some vineyard acreage in Napa Valley where they grow premium Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 Sorcery displays unique earthy characteristics that are indigenous to the Rutherford Appelation where the Van Duzer Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown, this characteristic is known as “Rutherford Dust.” In addition to the unique earthy tones, I caught hints of both bright and ripened berries along with dark chocolate and pleasing vanilla notes. I absolutely loved this Cabernet Sauvignon, and with only 420 cases produced, I’ll be stocking up on this delicious treat for sure.

After receiving my last savory sample for the evening, we were handed fresh strawberries and a pot of gorgeous fall colored mums on the way out. The beautiful display of fruits and vegetables that had greeted us upon our entry was dwindling down as the farm stand owners gave away all of their fresh goodies to the lucky patrons of an event that offered far more than just food and wine.

I did expect great wine and food at the Northwest Food and Wine Festival, but it was the unexpected palatable pate, liquor, cider, and unusual foods that made this event far more adventurous and exciting than I had anticipated. I’m eager for the next years’ event, it is one I know I won’t miss.

Which Winery Will Wine Down Your Memorial Weekend?

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Benton-Lane Winery

Memorial Day Weekend Winery Open Houses
May 28th, 29th, & 30th

Blue skies and warm days are on their way, and local wineries will be swinging their doors open for one of the South Willamette Valley’s highly anticipated and most celebrated 3 day wine events: Memorial Day Weekend Winery Open Houses. It’s the official kick-off to the summer season at the wineries; featuring, special releases, barrel tastings, live music, artisan treats and an endless flow of their locally, hand crafted wine- from Pinot Noir and Petit Syrah to Huxelrebe and Sweet Rosé. Each winery entices us to head their way for a number of reasons, so here’s a list of what they’ll be indulging us with this 2011 Memorial Day Weekend:

Benton-Lane Winery: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11a-5p. $10 admission includes logo glass and gourmet tapas. Live music with Jerome Monaco Saturday and Sunday- 12:30-4:30p. Gourmet Pizza Tapas on Monday. Also hosting the new Ebony Wines-grown in Oregon’s rockiest vineyards! www.benton-lane.com

Brigadoon Wine Company: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 11a-4p. Enjoy a Pinot-Picnic in the Park. Bring a lunch, chairs or a blanket & sample the Shown families 3 delicious Pinot’s while relaxing in a beautiful park-like setting at the Brigadoon Wine Co. property. FREE admission www.brigadoonwineco.com

Chateau Lorane's Lake Louise

Chateau Lorane: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 11:30a-5:30p. $10 admission includes logo glass (free under 21). Taste over 20 different wines, live music, art festival, delicious food available for purchase provided by Flavors Catering. All this on the shores of the beautiful Lake Louise! Rain or Shine. www.chateaulorane.com

Domaine Meriwether: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 11a-4p. $10 fee for 4 tastes of wine and a plate of food. Live music www.meriwetherwines.com

Capitello Wines will be featured at Domaine Meriwether! www.capitellowines.com

Iris Vineyards: Open Saturday, Sunday, Monday 11a-5p. Free wine tasting all 3 days! 25% discount on case purchases, including mixed cases. www.irisvineyards.com

King Estate: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. New releases & restaurant open daily for lunch and dinner. www.kingestate.com

The deck at LaVelle Vineyards

LaVelle Vineyards: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, enjoy live performances by the 5 piece band-‘Concrete Loveseat’ on Sunday and Monday. Delectable food will be catered by Field to Table. www.lavellevineyards.com

Noble Estate Vineyard & Winery: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 12-5p, live acoustic music Saturday & Sunday. $5 tasting fee which includes 6 wines- fee waived with a bottle purchase. www.nobleestatevineyard.com

Pfeiffer Winery: Open Wednesday – Monday 11a-5p, offering Italian Chocolates & appetizer’s with wine tasting. Private Pinot Clinics will be held in the Grotto every 90 minutes. Owners Robin and Danuta Pfeiffer will be your guides with barrel tasting of their 2010 Pinot Noir Futures and official release of the highly anticipated 2008 Blue Dot Pinot Noir Reserve. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy their water garden falls and streams.  www.pfeiffervineyards.com

RainSong Vineyard: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 12-5p. Featuring new releases, 20% case discounts, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and barrel tasting! Admission is FREE. www.rainsongvineyard.com

The tasting room red barn at Saginaw Vineyard

Saginaw Vineyard: Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday 11a-5p, but open late Friday for live music with Timothy Patrick 6p-9p www.saginawvineyard.com

Silvan Ridge Winery: Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 12-6p wine tasting, live music, sales on wine; Sat. 2-5p “The Valley Boys” Live; Sun. 2-5p “Just Say Yes” Live; Mon. 2-5p “Apropos” Live. FREE admission

Sarver Winery: Open Saturday, Sunday, Monday 12-8p, complimentary tastings paired with cheese and chocolate.  www.sarverwinery.com

Sweet Cheeks Winery: Open Saturday, Sunday, Monday from 12-6p, Live Music by “Taste”, food available for purchase, wine specials, and an art festival. New vintages of Rosy Cheeks and Riesling will be available & admission is free www.sweetcheekswinery.com

Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company: Friday 6-9p live music; Saturday 3-9p live music starts at 6p; Sunday 3-7p; $7 tasting fee for flight of 7 wines. Light snacks. www.territorialvineyards.com

Opine Cellars wines will also be available to sample at Territorial.

We are truly blessed to be in the midst of these unparalleled wineries of the South Willamette Valley. Thanks to the efforts and hard work of all the people involved in meticulously planning these fun-filled Memorial Day Weekend events, there will be loads of fun to be had by all.

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. 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.

Cheers to my Dad, my hero: Lt. Col. Maurice H. Leiser, 1954 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Dedicated to God, his beloved family, and the United States Army–he is forever in my heart. 1931-2009.

Julia – Writing about Eugene’s Wine Scene

Don’t Miss The Bus! 2011 Barrel Tour

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Time capsules

We’re getting closer and closer to one of my favorite local wine events of the year: The 2011 Barrel Tour. This year’s line-up of fantastic wineries has got me thinking I may need to go on more than just one tour. Highly recommended and tons of fun, a Barrel Tour is an all-inclusive tour that gives wine lovers an inside look at the heart of the Willamette Valley wine country. Traveling on a luxury charter bus, meeting the winemakers, and tasting wine directly from a barrel are just of a few of the many reasons why I love these tours.

Entrance to Saginaw's 1905 red barn tasting room

Last year, a friend of mine and I chose a barrel tour that included Saginaw Vineyard, Iris Vineyards, King Estate Winery, and Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company.  We met mid-morning in the parking lot at Valley River Center, where 3 coaches were waiting to be filled with people that we quickly learned were not only from Oregon, but some of these wine lovers had come from as far as New Jersey and Florida-strictly for this particular barrel tour. After filling all three buses, our bus headed south towards Cottage Grove to Saginaw Vineyards while the other two buses headed to different wineries; therefore, our visits to the wineries would be limited to just one bus at a time. Limiting the amount of people at each stop allows for more time to be spent on sipping, mingling, and learning about the vineyards and wine-making process from the winemakers and owners.

View of the red barn at Saginaw Vineyards

Saginaw Vineyards tasting room is located inside a rustic yet beautiful turn-of-the-century red barn, and the owners paired each of their delicious wines with an appetizer made specifically for the wine being tasted. Just outside the barn, there was plenty of outdoor seating where everyone could enjoy their wine and take in the views of the serene countryside.

We sat with a Floridian couple and learned that they fly across the country each year to attend Oregon barrel tours. We all agreed that one of the nicest benefits of the South Willamette Valley Barrel Tours is that each of the wineries on the tour includes an educational component in addition to the sampling of their premium wines. The couple from Florida had gone on previous tours, and mentioned that Doug LaVelle of LaVelle Vineyards had actually taken them out into the vineyard to see and touch the vines and budding grapes.

Iris vineyards state-of-the-art winery

Our next stop was Iris Vineyards tasting room and winery located in Creswell. The general manager greeted each person as we stepped off the bus, and then lead us into their state of the art winery where we had samples of their future Pinot Noir, straight out of the barrel, and all of their delicious current and past releases.We learned that the new winery was designed for small lot, hands-on production of high quality wine, which was definitely showcased in the wines we were sampling. They had special barrel tour pricing, another reason why I love barrel tours, so we were able to stock up on some of their stellar Barrel-Free Chardonnay and cellar worthy Pinot Noir.

King Estate Winery sits hilltop above the vineyards

After Iris Vineyards, we headed for the largest winery in Oregon: King Estate. The wine enthusiasts on the bus ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ as we approached the architecturally opulent buildings that house their winery, tasting room, and gourmet restaurant. Upon our arrival, King Estate’s gracious hosts poured wine into our glasses and then escorted us into their underground barrel room where the temperature is perfect for aging wine in oak barrels.

King Estate's underground barrel room

We were then led into the fermentation wings where large stainless steel tanks were lined meticulously along the walls, and finally into a large room to check out their cutting-edge crush pad. After the tour, we took some time on the patio to take in the unparalleled view of the vineyards that sprawl out along the hills and the valley floor. Each wine we tried was paired perfectly with a delectable treat prepared by King Estate’s executive chef, Michael Landsberg.

Loads of Lavendar in full bloom at King Estate Winery

The last stop on the tour was Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company, which is located in an urban setting within Eugene’s funky and thriving Whiteaker neighborhood. The sampling of their wines took place inside their 12,000 square foot modern and innovative winery. There was plenty of delicious food to pair with their outstanding wines, and outdoor seating provided a comfortable place to sit and relax with a glass of wine before traveling back to Valley River Center to end the tour. On the drive back, we gathered email addresses and phone numbers of some of the fellow wine lovers that had become our friends after meeting only hours before, and we’re really looking forward to seeing some of them again this year.

Territorial's Winery & Tasting room in the Whiteaker neighborhood

The three South Willamette Valley Barrel Tours offered for 2011 are:

  • June 4th– King Estate Winery, Saginaw Vineyard, Chateau Lorane, Iris Vineyard
  • June 18th– Benton-Lane Winery, Capitello Wines, Sweet Cheeks Winery, Shadow Mountain Vineyards
  • June 25th – Domaine Meriwether, Pfeiffer Vineyards, LaVelle Vineyards, High Pass Winery
Outdoor seating at Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co.

With such a great line-up for 2011, and such memorable experiences from 2010, I’ll be booking myself on more than just one tour. If you haven’t been out to our regions wineries before, the barrel tours are a great way to see the breathtaking countryside that surrounds us while sampling the bounties of food and wine that are grown and produced locally, in addition to making new friends. I’ve visited all the wineries of the South Willamette Valley, but these fun-filled barrel tours will continue to bring me back each year.

Tickets are currently on sale through the South Willamette Wineries Association’s website:  www.southwillamettewineries.com

You may also call  541-221-8592 to reserve your spot.

Cheers!

 

Julia – Writing about Eugene’s Wine Scene