Wine Tasting Adventure! Sweet Cheeks


There are few things I get greater joy from than wine tasting. It isn’t just that the wine is delicious (which, of course it is!) but that the product was created by someone who put his/her heart and soul out there. Winemaking isn’t an easy business. I often compared it to being a chef – you really have to love it! It is challenging, expensive, exhausting, and most of all, rewarding. When I am able to try wines that were created right outside Eugene I totally swoon. These grapes were grown (usually!) in my home state, and made just a few miles from my house. You can’t get more local than that!

Love this view!

Sweet Cheeks is a winery I’ve been going to for many years. I love the view, the wines, and the staff is always so friendly. This past week I realized it had been WAY too long since I’d stopped by, so I made the short trek out to the winery. My goodness it is beautiful! The views of rolling hills and vineyards is entrancing. I of course was able to try some really fantastic wine as well, and they have many in the under $20 range!

The first one I knew I had to mention was their 2014 Dry Rosé. It is no secret that I love, love, love Rosé wines, but I especially loved this one. There was a nice crispness to this wine with hints of strawberries and red delicious apples. It had an almost effervescent mouthfeel to it. If you are unsure of whether or not you love a rosé wine, you should drink this one. It was everything I love about this style of wine and more.

On the sweeter side, I tried the 2014 Rosy Cheeks. This one is very well known in the area, and is almost exclusively sold at the winery. Aged in all stainless vessels, this wine is a bit on the sweet side. However, it had nice balance and with flavors like peaches, honey, and a hint of strawberries and cream. It was thoroughly delicious from start to finish. Pair this wine with the lovely view from the vineyard and you truly have the perfect day.

Some of the line up – Makes me thirsty just looking at it!

Oregon is known for its fantastic Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Pinot Noir grapes. The line up at Sweet Cheeks was a great example of this being totally true. I loved the 2014 Pinot Gris, filled with ripe green apple and crisp citrus flavors. The 2014 Dry Riesling (being a traditionally “sweet” grape, this can be a bit tougher to find!) had flavors of honeysuckle and pear, with hints of key lime lingering on the tongue. And lastly, the 2013 Pinot Fusion (also not over $20) was one that I knew I had to share. I’ve had this wine before, but it had been a while and the age had only added to this wines deliciousness. Dark cherries, blackberries, and currants filled my palette. There was even a hint of smokiness present that I absolutely loved. This medium bodied red wine was a great value, made locally, and fantastic. What a win!

Sweet Cheeks Winery has some wonderful wines in its line up. Only a short drive from Eugene, this spot is worth checking out for the beautiful view and the fantastic selections. For a Frugal Wine Gal like me, Sweet Cheeks has many options as well. Cheers to local AND affordable wines!

the view
I’ve gotta soak in that view just one more time…

What’s In My Glass? William Rose Riesling


My obsession with Oregon wine has only continued to grow over the past few years. There are so many amazing options to choose from, and at such great prices! I have loved William Rose wines for a long time. I remember my first wine I tried that was produced by Mark NicholI, the 2012 “Prohibition Rosé”. I knew right then and there I’d be seeing more goodness from this talented winemaker! I actually reviewed the most recent release of this rosé here, the “Prohibition Rosé” made of 100% Sangiovese grapes. If you haven’t stopped by their location on 5th and Lincoln – do yourself a favor. Go there and try everything! They have an incredible selection of local options, including those by owner and winemaker Mark Nicholl.

A plethora of wines to choose from! (Source: Oregon Wine Lab)

On a particularly sunny day here in the southern Willamette Valley I stopped by the Oregon Wine Lab to pick up a wine that fit the day we were having. I love a good dry Riesling so I picked myself up a bottle. I cannot emphasize enough how delicious this wine was. The color was light and the nose had tropical scents that really showed me that this wine came from a warmer year. The wine itself was light, crisp, and slight effervescent in my mouth. Citrus flavors like lemon peel and floral notes popped. The finish was smooth and balanced. I drank this wine solo but it would pair really well with Thai food or something with a bit of kick.

Loving this label! Here it is folks: The 2012 Dry Riesling by William Rose

The Oregon Wine Lab is open 7 days a week, and is right off 5th and Lincoln. Check them out and try some of their diverse options for yourself. Cheers!

What’s in My Glass? Blue Moon Riesling


I’m going to be honest. Most wines I find are above $10, and more in the $15 – $18 dollar range. I have tried a few that were under $10 but rarely do I feel they are worth the mention. Recently though, I found a gem that was not only under the $10 mark – but delicious!


I spotted the Blue Moon Riesling at my local supermarket for only $7! I thought to myself, why not? Riesling is a really interesting varietal to me. Many of them are sweet, and sometimes I find myself craving one to pair with my spicy dishes or to drink on its own on a nice summer day. This particular occasion I was just watching a movie at home and poured myself a nice glass. The Blue Moon Riesling was slightly sweet, with flavors of honey-suckle, apricot, and fresh fall fruits. It was extremely well rounded and an all-in-all a fantastic find. For an average of about $8, this wine is a killer deal. Produced by Bridgeview wines in Cave Junction, you can buy this knowing you are supporting a local winery as well. Cheers to great local finds!

Discover Brigadoon Wine Co. Memorial Weekend


Last December, I was lucky enough to be gathering last minute Christmas dinner items from Market of Choice at the same exact time Chris Shown, owner of Brigadoon Vineyards, was in the store offering samples of his ’09 Pinot Blanc and the ’09 Lylee Pinot Noir. I had heard about the new Brigadoon Wine Company, but had not had the chance to try their wines; so I eagerly tried each of the Pinot’s.

Brigadoon Lylee Pinot Noir savored on Christmas day

Both the Pinot Blanc and the Pinot Noir showcased South Willamette Valley’s beautiful fruit with perfection. The Pinot Blanc was complex, yet crisp and refreshing with melon and citrus tones, and their Pinot Noir was earthy and creamy with a hint of dark cherries and spice. I was clearly impressed with both of their outstanding Willamette Valley Pinot’s, and I decided to take home the Lylee Pinot Noir, noting that it would be a perfect match with my dinner party’s main course, a Honey Baked Ham.

Vineyard Welcome Sign

The Ham and Pinot Noir pairing was a big hit with my dinner guests, and everyone wanted to know more about Brigadoon. It was then that I decided I would need to visit the Shown family vineyards to find out more about their operation. After hearing of the Shown’s plan to open their property to wine lovers this Memorial Weekend, I decided it was time to take the quick, scenic drive through the beautiful countryside to the outskirts of Junction City to meet with Chris and learn about Brigadoon Wine Company.

At Brigadoon Wine Company we share a family commitment to fine wine and sustainable agriculture; the journey from field to glass.” –Chris Shown

Chris Shown in the vineyard

Brigadoon Wine Company is a family owned and operated business. Chris, his wife, and two sons all have vital roles in making Brigadoon a success. As Chris and I, along with the two family dogs, started our walk around the lush, gently sloping and serene vineyard property that is neatly tucked within the foothills of the coastal range, I learned that Chris’s love for the land and the wine industry began in 1970 on his father’s Napa Valley vineyard in Rutherford, Shown & Sons Vineyards.  Since childhood, Chris knew he was a farmer at heart and would someday be working in his own vineyards. In 1990, Chris moved his wife and two young boys to Oregon, and he managed Benton-Lane Vineyards.

Farm to Table

Meanwhile, Chris and his wife, Sheree, were searching for their own vineyard property, and in 1991, they purchased the property that is now Brigadoon. Chris and Sheree knew at first sight that it was going to be the perfect place for growing grapes. Their 66 acre farm straddles a creek, and on one side of the creek with eastern exposure, they’ve planted 2 ½ acres of Pinot Noir and a ½ acre of Riesling. The side of the creek that faces west has 3 ½ acres of Pinot Noir, 4 acres of Pinot Blanc, and 4 ½ acres of Rootstock. Chris’s son, Matt, who is the winemaker, joined us for our walk. Matt grew up on the Brigadoon property following his dad through the vines and watching him meticulously tend the land and vines all while practicing hands-on sustainable farming methods.

Pinot Noir vines at Brigadoon

Matt believes that because of his dad’s hard work in the vineyard, he can create beautiful wines with minimal intervention, which he’s proved he can with recent recognition and awards. Matt earned a Horticulture degree from Oregon State University and then followed with enology classes taken at Chemeketa Community College. Matt said his passion with winemaking comes from being involved in all the processes–from spending time in the vineyard to perfecting the result in the bottle, he loves what he does.

Chris & son Matt with family dogs

Chris‘s younger son, Nick, recently graduated from a college in Maine with a degree in Environment Studies along with an emphasis in Forestry, and throughout his years in college, he returned home each summer to help with vineyard development. Currently working on organic farms and dairies in Oregon and Sweden, he hopes to someday fully integrate farm to table fundamentals at Brigadoon.

The creekside dock in winter

Sheree does the sales and marketing; however, she’s known for her exceptional food and wine palate, and truly enjoys pairing Willamette Valley wines with food grown on their farm, so she also believes in the farm to table dynamism. The family’s involvement and commitment to the success of Brigadoon unequivocally shows in their wines; they’ve been LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) and Salmon Safe certified for seven years, and they recently won a Double Gold Medal for their ’08 Pinot Noir from Oregon Wine Awards-Oregon’s Premier Wine Recognition program. They were also one of only 14 new wineries to be selected to pour their Pinot Blanc and Lylee Pinot Noir at the 2011 Portland Indie Wine Festival. Current releases include the Double Gold winner ’08 Pinot Noir, ’09 Lylee Pinot Noir, ’09 Pinot Blanc (only 90 cases produced!). Not yet released is a ’09 Tap Root Pinot Noir along with a Riesling that will be available sometime in 2012.

View from the future tasting room

As Chris, Matt, and I, along with the dogs, headed down the road from their home towards the creek-side dock and picnic area, I realized this is where they will be pouring their recognized and award winning Pinot’s for their Memorial Weekend Open House, “a Pinot-Picnic in the Park”.

Encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chairs and a picnic basket, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the great outdoors while sampling the Shown family’s delicious wines: their ‘09 Pinot Blanc, ’08 Pinot Noir, ’09 Lylee Pinot Noir, and their not-yet-released ’09 Tap Root Pinot Noir. They will be open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11am-4pm.

Although they’ve marked off a pristine area above the vineyards to be slated for a near future tasting room that will have a stellar view of the layered, rolling hills and Coastal range, Memorial Weekend will be your chance to see their magnificent property and taste their award winning wines prior to the completion of their tasting room. You’ll be sure to find me sitting creek-side, taking in the fresh air, and enjoying a Picnic and a Pinot this Memorial

Weekend at Brigadoon. Cheers!


The Inspiration

Some of you may be wondering, like I was, “Why Brigadoon and not Shown Vineyards or Shown Family Estate Wines?”  Chris explained that the name was taken from his and Sheree’s favorite Broadway Musical: Brigadoon. The musical tells the story of a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, though to the villagers, the passing of each century seems no longer than one night. The enchantment is viewed by them as a blessing rather than a curse, for it saved the village from destruction. According to their covenant with God, no one from Brigadoon may ever leave, or the enchantment will be broken and the site and all its inhabitants will disappear into the mist forever.



Two American tourists, lost in the Scottish Highlands, stumble upon the village just as a wedding is about to be celebrated, and their arrival has serious implications for the village’s inhabitants as one of the tourists falls madly in love with a villager. [i] It’s a heart-warming love story that takes place in a mystical, magical land of preserved, un-touched beauty. It’s easy for me to imagine the landscape in Brigadoon looking relatively similar to the landscape that graces the Shown family home and vineyards:  lush, gently rolling hills of wildflowers and grapevines, with the occasional valley mist drifting through. Brigadoon is quite befitting.


Brigadoon Wine Co. Vineyards
25166 Ferguson Road
Junction City, OR 97448

Julia – Writing about Eugene’s Wine Scene

[i] Wikipedia