wine events in eugene

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene June 4-10

Keeler Estate Vineyard

Being the fan that I am of the wines from my beautiful home state of Oregon, and everything that has to do with the Oregon wine industry; including, the wineries and vineyards, the winemakers, the harvesters, the gorgeous rolling hill wine country, the thriving varietals and the hundreds of micro-climates throughout the state, I always get super excited when there’s a new addition to the already fabulous list of wineries we have.

KEV all 5

Towards the ladder part of last year, Keeler Estate Vineyard was suddenly the buzz among my wine writing friends and I. We all received news of the opening of a new winery in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, located in Amity, Oregon.  We each received an invitation to attend their special media opening, and I was very excited to visit this new winery for many reasons.

For starters, I love many of the wineries and wines that are associated with the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.  It’s an AVA that has some world renowned wineries like Bethel Heights, Zenith Vineyard, Brooks Winery, St. Innocent Winery, Evening Land Vineyards, Witness Tree and, of course, the newer Keeler Estate Vineyard. Secondly, they focus on two of my favorite Oregon varietals: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (as well as Pinot Gris).  Thirdly, the owners have a fabulous story to tell.


Sadly, I was unable to attend the event.  As a wine-writing mother of two boys, 9 and 10 years old, I had to cancel my plans at the last minute when my son came down with an awful cold.  Friends in the industry that attended the event sent me updates throughout the day via texts, telling me great things about the owners, Craig and Gabriele Keeler, the gorgeous property, and the absolutely stellar wines.  I knew I was missing out on a superb day.

Gabriele Keeler, being the gracious and thoughtful person that she is, kindly forwarded five bottles of the Keeler Estate wines so I would get a chance to taste the wines that all of my friends were raving about.  Although I have yet to see the beautiful grounds and vineyards in person, which are organically and biodynamically farmed, I have certainly been able to experience the terroir through the Keeler’s earth-driven wines that are well worth the buzz they’ve been receiving.  

The five Keeler Estate wines that are all the rave:

Keeler Estate Vineyard 2011 Pinot Gris:  Fresh white fruits on the nose and palate are balanced to perfection with just the right amount of zippy acidity.  The lengthy finish will entice you to not put down your glass.  More please.

KEV 12 chardKeeler Estate Vineyard 2011 Chardonnay:  Balance perfection between alluring tropical fruit notes and solid acidity.  Excellent complexity, yet focused and pure, and the varietal characteristics try shine exactly the way they should.  My favorite Chardonnay of all in 2013.

Keeler Estate 2011 Pinot Noir:  Dark cherries, violets and brown spices showcase delicate elegance on the palate with lovely acidity giving it a nice balance.  The terroir of Eola-Amity shines through as this evolves into an earthy, mushroomy delight by the next day.  This is why I love Oregon Pinot Noir.

Keeler Estate 2012 Pinot Gris:  A lush, juicy summer sipping delight!  Pears, apricots, honeysuckle and star fruit with palate pleasing minerals and excellent acidity.  Exceptional balance.

Keeler Estate 2012 Chardonnay:  Taste the Eola-Amity Hills in this beautiful, crisp refreshing Chardonnay. Focused, clean and absolutely delicious aromas and flavors of the tropics: pineapple, grapefruit, lemon and Key limes.

KEV corks

To read about the Keeler’s fabulous story and a history on their incredible vineyard; including details on their organic and Biodynamic farming practices, please follow me over to my award winning website,  You won’t want to miss learning more about one of Oregon’s most talked about wineries!

Can’t make it up to Amity soon enough?  Head over to the Oregon Wine LAB, where owner Mark Nicholl’s is proud to represent not only his own stellar line of wines (William Rose and Bootlegger), but other Local Artisan Brands, as well – like Keeler Estate Vineyard. 




Memorial Weekend at the Wineries


Local wineries will be swinging their doors open for one of the South Willamette Valley’s most celebrated 3 day weekends: Memorial Day Weekend.  Winery Open Houses will be happening throughout the valley, it’s the official kick-off to the summer season.  Featuring, special releases, barrel tastings, live music, artisan treats and an endless flow of the areas hand crafted wine, from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to Brut Rose and Chardonnay, each winery entices us to head their way for a number of reasons.  And with the recent openings of several urban wineries, it’s no longer necessary to head into wine country to celebrate the official kick-off of summer – some of the areas most prized wines can be conveniently experienced in town.

Mem oregon wine lab
Oregon Wine LAB – one of the urban winery stops on the Eugene Urban Wine Circuit’s: Wine in the City!

Whether you decide to head out to the gorgeous rolling hill countryside of the south Willamette Valley or hit the streets of downtown Eugene to check out Eugene’s thriving urban wine scene, here’s a list of some of the events not to be missed.

  • Wine In The City – Sun. May 25, 2-6 pm. Presented by Eugene Urban Wine Circuit and South Willamette Wineries Association, six urban wineries and tasting rooms will be kicking off summer in style. Each tasting room location will be pouring 3 artisan small batch wines, showcasing live music, and featuring a local caterer or food truck. A guest winemaker/winery will also be featured at each location. Host Wineries include: Capitello featuring Stanton Vineyards, Eugene Wine Cellars featuring Opine Cellars, J. Scott Cellars featuring Gelardi Vineyards, Noble Estate Wines featuring Camp Creek Cellars, Oregon Wine LAB featuring Abbelone and Territorial Winery featuring 5H Cellars. Tickets can be picked up at one of the 6 particpating winery locations (must be 21 or older to participate) or purchased online at  Wine circuit goers can check in at one of the 6 locations to pick up their logo wine glass and stamp card. Ticket holders MUST present either their online ticket confirmation sheet or their stamp card in order to participate. Eugene’s own My Party Bus will also be providing shuttle service between wineries/tasting rooms for $10 per person. You must be a ticket holder to use the shuttle service. To reserve your space on the shuttle, call My Party Bus directly at 541 554 7979.
  • Domaine Merwiether – May 23-26, Celebrate Memorial Weekend at Domaine Meriwether beginning May 23, Friday night, for Sparkling Nights (6-9 pm) with music by the lovely Jen Sennett. Decorate your memorial lumineer in honor of loved ones who are no longer with us. A tribute walk through the vineyard starts at dusk. Enjoy food from Comforts Mobile Cuisine (available for purchase), and complimentary tastings of Domaine Meriwether Winery’s fine wines. This Sat.-Mon.: Come back for more Memorial Weekend festivities from 11am-6pm, admission is free, all food and drink is for purchase.
  • Capitello Wines – May 23-24, 12-9 pm & May 25, 12-6 pm. Wine and Swine Memorial Weekend with exciting new wine releases, exclusive tastings of Capitello limited Reserve Pinot Noir & Brut Rose’ & and they’ve labeled up and re-released their popular (and extremely limited) 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Straw Wine! May 23, 6-8 pm Friday Night Live Music Series featuring Americana artist & folk blues singer Tyler Fortier. No Cover & Happy Hour extended to 8 pm (save $1 on any glass purchase). Artisan Fruit, Cheese & Cured Meat plates available all day & night. Sat.-Chef Elizabeth Stuart of Elizabeth Stuart Catering & Co will roast a whole hog in their lot and serve it up Cuban style with black beans, rice & salad for just $10 dollars. Sun.-Elizabeth is serving it up Suthahn style featuring pulled pork sandwiches with vinegar slaw and chips.
  • Silvan Ridge – May 24-26, 12-5 pm, enjoy live music each day from 2-5 pm, free wine tasting, sale prices on wines and free admission.
  • Chateau Lorane – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Wine at the Lake – enjoy this special event at our facility on the shore of beautiful Lake Louise. Sample over 15 different wines, bring a picnic or purchase picnic supplies.
  • Bennet Vineyards and Wine – May 26, 12-6 pm, GRAND OPENING. Enjoy food, entertainment and of course wine. Check out the south Willamette Valley’s newest winery and tasting room. 25974 Highway 36, Cheshire, 97419. 541-998-3336.
  • Brigadoon Wine Co. – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Enjoy an assortment of tapas and local artisan cheeses with the family produced wines. The 2012 Pinot Noir “Lylee”, 2013 Riesling, 2013 Rose of Pinot Noir, and the newly released 2013 Pinot Blanc will all be available for tasting and purchase. There will be a $5 tasting fee for the weekend. Bring a picnic and enjoy the family’s vineyard views and hospitality – a natural, peaceful setting like none other.
  • Benton-Lane Winery – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Have your palate seduced by silky Pinots at the picturesque, family-owned estate Winery & Vineyard. Estate Tasting Fee – $7.00 for four wines, First Class Tasting fee – $7.00 for two wines. Each tasting fee is refundable with $20 wine purchase.
    Meat and Cheese plates available for purchase daily. May 26 ONLY – Noon to 4 pm, gourmet pizza’s from our wood burning oven – $10 each. May 24-25, 1-4 pm live music with Jerome Monaco and band.
  • LaVelle Vineyards – May 23, 6-9 pm, Friday Night Flights are back! Enjoy live music by Michael Conley and food offerings from VineCuisine. Each guest will receive a complimentary flight of 3 wines to start off the evening. Additional wine will be available for purchase. All guests are welcome to walk to the grounds, and even up to the Deck that overlooks the vineyard. As always, guests are welcome to bring their own food if desired.
  • Sarver Winery – May 23-26, 12-9 pm. Enjoy live music a wood-fried pizzas all weekend. Open 7 days a week starting Memorial Day.
  • RainSong Vineyard – May 24-26, 12-5 pm. Enjoy new releases like ’12 Allie’s Rose’ of Pinot Meinier, ’12 chardonnay and ’11 Sparkling Rose’. Free tasting and complimentary appetizers. Tasting of their Barrel Bottling Wines. 20 percent case discount on all wines.
Heading out to wine country? Enjoy bubbles with a view at Domaine Meriwether
Heading out to wine country? Enjoy bubbles with a view at Domaine Meriwether

With three, and often four, days of events going on at the wineries and tasting rooms, this is a weekend packed with countless wine-centric events.  It’s truly the ultimate way to kick-off a summer-long celebration of artisanal wine and Oregon wineries.  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, and I’ll also be lighting a special lumineer at domaine Meriwether for my late father, “Colonel Maurice H. Leiser, USMA Class of ’54 – the wind beneath his daughter’s wings.”

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.



Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene January 29 – February 4

January in Oregon never ceases to amaze me.  It’s as if Mother Nature feels guilty for the months of clouds and mist she casts down on us, so when she sees we are all getting a bit loopy from the looming grayness, she gifts us with two or three days of unbelievable warmth and sunshine.

Who’d have thought flip flops in January?

Her guilt arrived last Friday in the form of a 20-30 degree hike in temperatures along with a cloudless, cerulean blue sky.  The second I heard that Oregon’s Coast was going to have temperatures in the upper 60s, I packed up my husband, kids and myself while determined to find a last minute place to stay along the Coast.

Whenever my boys and I are able to get a weekend away (aside from our camping trips), I always book us a place to stay through (Vacation Rentals By Owner).  A user friendly site that has multiple listings of vacations homes throughout the world, VRBO has numerous photos of each vacation home along with visitor reviews.  I’ve been booking vacation homes on VRBO for for almost 15 years and have stayed in homes ranging from luxurious mountain-top log cabins to sand-filled beachfront cottages.  There’s really no other lodging comparable to those that are like a home away from home.

The super cute VRBO beach cottage called “The Hut” – Florence, OR

Feeling extremely lucky to have found a place on VRBO (last minute) that looked absolutely perfect, the Rhode Island residing owner worked magic by quickly responding to my request, taking our payment and sending us directions and entry instructions within the amount of time it took me to pack a couple bags – I was impressed and feeling very happy to be on our way to the sunny and warm Oregon coast on a late January Saturday.  I packed wine, too, of course.

When we arrived at the adorable A-frame cottage painted in ocean-blue, I was thrilled to discover how breathtaking the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean were.  The kitchen, living and dining areas were in one room together with the entire back wall made of floor to ceiling glass windows and a sliding glass door.  Beyond the door was an expansive deck with a picnic table, lounge chairs and an endless view of sand and ocean.  There was a small bedroom downstairs and two upstairs, including the master that had the same view as the deck below.  After getting settled in, we took a couple sand discs that were in the garage, some beach chairs (that we brought with us), and headed down the private path to the beach.  Within a couple minutes, we were over the dunes and had miles of sandy shores all to ourselves.

Breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from The Hut
Breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from The Hut

Arriving back at the cozy cottage in time to watch the sunset, I opened up one of the bottles of wine we had brought with us: The Pines 1852 2010 Brut Rosé (made from 100% Pinot Noir using the classic Methode Champenoise).  It that was the absolute most perfect sparkling wine to sip while watching the sun dip behind the ocean’s horizon; the pinkish-salmon hue of the wine was the exact same color as the sky – and even the flavors somehow mimicked the sunset.

Crisp and fresh aromas and flavors of apples, oranges and lively cranberries flowed on to the palate in lush, juicy waves highlighted by thousands of tiny, dancing bubbles.  Mid-palate zestiness led to a lively, long-lasting finish filled with vivacious berry and lemon flavors. The color of the sky became more intense as the sun went down, just like the complexity of the wine became more intense as it graced the palate – resulting in a perfect pairing.

The perfect sunset wine: The Pines 1852 Brut Rose’ 2010

The Pines 1852 is located in Hood River, Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge and has a very interesting history.  Dating back to the late 1800s, an Italian stone mason planted grape vines from his homeland in Genoa, Italy, making The Pines 1852 one of the oldest heritage vineyards in the Northwest.  Other wines produced by the Pines 1852 include Pinot Gris, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, a couple red blends, and of course, Zinfandel and Old Vine Zinfandel.

Check out  Follow me over to my award-winning website for all things wine, food and travel.


Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene September 25 – October 1

A new era of architecturally stunning tasting rooms appears to be on the rise in Oregon wine country.  With recent visits to the contemporary and recently completed tasting rooms at both Stoller Family Estate and Sokol Blosser; along with, a hot-off-the-press news release on the brand new Saffron Fields Vineyards, tasting rooms with no options other than standing at the bar and tasting a few wines are a thing of the past.  These state-of-the-art tasting rooms are an absolute delight for the senses.

Stoller tasting room
Stoller Family Estate tasting room | photo:

Not just visually stunning, but Stoller, Sokol Blosser and Saffron Fields tasting rooms were all built with sustainability in mind.  With a focus on having the least amount of impact on the environment, each of these new tasting rooms have special features that create environmentally sound atmospheres.  Each tasting room has art work and areas for wine enthusiasts to sit and enjoy a glass or bottle of wine while taking in the breathtaking views of Oregon’s wine country.

At Stoller Family Estate, where I had a chance to sit down with winemaker Melissa Burr for a spectacular tasting, sitting on the patio of the tasting room while looking out over the vineyards was simply magnificent. The design of the building, with large garage-style doors made entirely of glass and steel, welcome wine enthusiasts with a gorgeous view of the vineyards as blocks of vines roll up the hills beyond the tasting room.  Inside, the wood slatted ceiling rolls and tips from side to side, mimicking the rolling hills of the Stoller property.  The wood used for the remarkably striking ceiling was salvaged from the 2002 Southern Oregon Biscuit Fire, where nearly 500,000 acres were burned. A solar paneled roof was designed to handle 100 percent of the buildings power and energy, and a living roof just below the solar panels can be seen through windows inside the tasting room.

Sokol Blosser tasting room, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Main Room at Sokol Blosser | photo:

Sampling wine at the new Sokol-Blosser tasting room is just as magnificent as it is at Stoller. Second generation and now co-owners of Sokol Blosser, Alison and Alex Sokol Blosser, have followed in their mother’s footsteps (who built the first LEED certified winery in the U.S.) and aligned the new tasting room with Living Building Challenge – a new gold standard certification for sustainable building.  Designed to offer a dynamic visitor experience for wine lovers as well as followers of architecture and design, the new tasting room at Sokol Blosser literally pays homage to the source of its bounty, where guests can seamlessly enjoy the vineyards and landscape.

The building’s low profile lends the appearance of being a single level when in fact the structure is built both above and below ground, emulating the character of the grapevines while allowing for wine storage in a naturally cool cellar.  The exterior is united with the interior in part by the use of striated wood cladding, a motif derived from the vineyard rows and the region’s vernacular agricultural buildings.  The wood also surfaces all interior walls, floors and ceilings.

Sokol Blosser tasting room, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
The Kitchen at Sokol Blosser | photo:

A receptionist greets guests as they walk in, and there’s a special Wine Library where we were able to sit down and taste some of the outstanding Sokol Blosser wines, including their Evolution line of wines.  There’s a kitchen where cooking classes and special events can take place, and a special wine club members only area with private outdoor seating and bar to table service.  And just like Stoller, solar panels are used to power the entire facility.

Sticking to a similar theme as Stoller and Sokol Blosser, the brand new Saffron Fields Vineyards tasting room was also designed to flow with the landscape and vineyards that surround the artistically designed building.  Although I haven’i had the chance (yet) to visit Saffron Fields Vineyards, the focus of the design was to bring people and the environment together, and there’s even a restorative Japanese garden just outside the new tasting room – to inspire an atmosphere of contemplation and ease. 

Saffron Fields
Artist rendering of the new Saffron Fields Vineyard

Eugene architect, Richard Shugar of 2fORM Architecture, aimed to let the natural form and function of the site determine the structure of the finished project.  An old dairy barn that sat on the property where the tasting room is now, was logistically impossible to use as a winery, so the Douglas fir and cedar wood from the barn was salvaged and incorporated into the new facility.

Clearly, tasting rooms in Oregon wine country are becoming destinations; once you step foot into these stunning facilities, you won’t ever want to leave – wine lovers are encouraged to swirl, sip, savor and stay.

Follow me over to my award-winning website,, to read about the fabulous wines I tasted at Stoller and Sokol Blosser.


Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene August 7-13

IMG_9967This has been the summer of sparkling wine.  Each time I meet up with friends for lunch, frequent local wine bars, relax on my deck, or head out to some of the many stellar wineries in our area, I find myself wanting a glass of chilled bubbly more often than not – it’s crisp, refreshing and downright delicious on a hot summer day.

Ranging in style from sweet to dry (Brut), the common characteristic in all sparkling wine is bubbles.  Sparkling wine goes through two fermentations: the first is for the production of the still wine (also called the base wine), and the second turns the still/base wine into a wine with bubbles.  Depending on the preferred production method used by the winemaker, second fermentation can either happen in the tank (Charmat Method) or in the bottle (Champagne Method, also known as Méthode Champenoise).

Tank fermentation (Charmat Method), is quick and efficient and used to produce bulk sparkling wines that are fairly inexpensive, sometimes even under five dollars a bottle. Bottle fermentation, or Méthode Champenoise, has been used to make Champagne for hundreds of years. It’s a labor intensive and costly process that requires aging before being available in wine shops around the world; therefore, the prices are much higher than sparkling wines that are tank fermented, and can range from twenty to several hundred dollars a bottle.

IMG_9982From Champagne in France and Cava in Spain to Sekt in Austria and Asti in Italy, different terms for sparkling wine indicate the wine region where the sparkling wine was produced. Here in Oregon, we simply call it Oregon Sparkling Wine.

Last Friday (which is steadfastly becoming a Friday family tradition), I packed up our lawn chairs, a small cooler and a frisbee and headed out to Veneta’s Domaine Meriwether – the only local winery that focuses on sparkling wine.  I knew before our arrival that I’d be ordering a bottle of Domaine Meriwether Non Vintage Discovery Cuvee Brut – one of my favorite sparkling wines.  With a view of the Coastal Range foothills and live music each Friday, there’s no better place to enjoy a glass of fresh, crisp, delicious bubbles.  Made using Méthode Champenoise, the Discovery Cuvee is a steal at just $24 dollars a bottle.

IMG_9988With family in town visiting from Arizona, we celebrated their arrival with popping the corks on two other divine Oregon Sparkling Wines: R. Stuart Rosé D’ Or Non Vintage Brut and Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine.  Each was produced using Méthode Champenoise, and coincidentally, they were both produced by winemaker Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Company.  While the Evolution’s fruits are boisterous, forward and fun, the Rosé D’ Or’s fruits are mellow and subtle with loads of finesse.  Both are equally delicious and end with clean, crisp and refreshingly dry characteristics. Just like Domaine Meriwether’s Discovery Cuvee, both are a steal at $35 dollars for the Rosé D’ Or and $20 for the Evolution.

As Oscar Wilde once said (which is also on the back label of the Rosé D’ Or), “Only people with no imagination can’t find a good reason to drink Champagne.”

Also try Kramer Vineyards 2010 Brut and their Müller-Thurgau Celebrate! Sparkling Wine.


Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene July 24-30

Beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon at Martinez and Martinez

Having just returned from the gorgeous Horse Heaven Hills AVA in southeastern Washington, I’ve barely had time to unpack while I’m already thinking about what to pack for the upcoming 27th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC). But, before I dive into what the IPNC is all about, I need to take a moment to write about the incredible Horse Heaven Hills.

Located in an area that boasts a very arid and often windy climate, Horse Heaven Hills is home to both large (Chateau Ste. Michelle) and small (Martinez and Martinez) wineries that have staked a claim to stellar Cabernet Sauvignons.  Spending a few days at the Mercer Estates Ranch House (along with some other wine writers), gave me the opportunity to explore this region and some of its well-known, and lesser-known, wineries that are truly producing some outstanding, high-quality wines. From Viogniers and Chardonnays to Syrahs and Malbecs, there’s a diverse selection that can’t be overlooked, in spite of their big, bold, juicy Cabernets that tend to get much-deserved attention from esteemed wine critics.

It’s not just the wine that made me fall head over heels for Horse Heaven Hills, but it was the people, as well. The folks behind the mouthwatering wines are truly passionate about the land they farm and the wines they create – they love what they do and it shows. They work together to strive for a unified region that reflects their camaraderie and togetherness, it was simply fun just being around them.  Add the beauty of the region to the wine and people, and it’s a little slice of heaven, right here on earth.

View of the Columbia River from my room at the Mercer Winery Ranch House

Although there is much more to write about my visit to Horse Heaven Hills, which I’ll be doing over the next few weeks on my award-winning website, I’m taking the rest of today to prepare for the upcoming IPNC.

Even though the IPNC doesn’t officially begin until this Friday, I’ll be kick-starting this Pinot-centric celebration Wednesday evening during a live wine tasting and discussion called #WineChat.  #WineChat is a scheduled weekly wine conversation that takes place on Twitter, and this weeks #WineChat will focus on Pinot Noir from the Willamatte Valley. Being hosted by William Allen of Simple Hedonisms, I’ll be joining several other wine writers and popping the corks on Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs from five different wineries: Eyrie Vineyards, R. Stuart & Co., Elk Cove, Montinore Estate and Sokol Blosser.  Wine enthusiasts around the world are encouraged to purchase a bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and join in on this special #IPNC #WineChat.  After popping the cork on a Pinot Noir, simply go to, and type #WineChat into the Twitter search bar to follow all the tweets from everyone who is participating globally.  Adding the hashtags #WineChat and #IPNC to the end of each Tweet ensures that everyone who is participating will see all of the conversations about this special Pinot Noir-centric event.

Stoller night view tasting room
The new tasting room at Stoller Vineyards | photo: Stoller Family Estate facebook page. Snapped by their Farm Manager, Mike Haverkate

Come Thursday, I’ll meet up with featured guest winemakers from Oregon, California and Burgundy on the patio of the Stoller Vineyards new tasting room for a pre-IPNC dinner.  The executive chef from JORY at Allison Inn and Spa, Sunny Jin, will prepare an upscale family-style dinner that will be paired with wines from the featured winemakers.  Having had food prepared by Chef Sunny Jin before; as well as, excellent Pinot Noir from Stoller, I know I’m in for a very special treat.

The IPNC begins the next day, and this three day, world-famous, wine and food event is all about celebrating the Pinot Noirs of the world.  Featuring 70 of the world’s top Pinot Noir wineries and 50 of the Pacific Northwest’s top chefs, this wine and food extravaganza also has seminars, visits to surrounding wineries, walk-around Grand outdoor tastings, a much-talked-about Saturday Night Salmon Bake and a University of Pinot course, to name just a few. Words cannot describe my excitement as I wonder about the incredible Pinot Noirs and Northwest foods I’ll be delving into in just a few days – I am on fire with anticipation and excitement.


Wine Down Special: Memorial Weekend Events in South Willamette and Umpqua Valleys


Wine Down Eugene – Special Memorial Weekend Issue May 22-28

Delfino_Vineyards with flag
Delfino Vineyards tasting room | photo:

As I write this, wineries throughout the South Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley are preparing for the biggest weekend of the year.  Memorial Weekend open houses at the wineries signifies the official kick-off to summer.  While some wineries re-open after being closed for the winter, others simply extend their hours and days of operation.  Many will be featuring tastings of their newly released wines, library wines; as well as, offering special pricing, food, live entertainment and even children’s activities.

This year, since we are so close in proximity to our neighboring Umpqua Valley wineries, I’ve decided to highlight their Memorial Weekend events in addition to highlighting the events happening at the South Willamette wineries.

Down in the Umpqua Valley, Delfino Vineyards will be featuring a wine tasting social hour just before Portland’s New Iberian Blues and Zydeco Band will take the stage for a live concert on the Delfino’s beautiful estate property.  North of Delfino, at stunningly gorgeous Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards, another concert will be taking place with a ’50s – ’60s rock and roll band named Flashback. ’50s style sliders will be paired with the newly released limited edition 2011 Grenache. The amphitheater at Reustle Prayer Rock is one-of-a-kind with views that are truly unmatched.  Not too far from Reustle Prayer Rock is Henry Estate Winery, where the entire family is welcome to join in on the festivities. In addition to wine tasting and live music, they will have a bouncy house, miniature golf and a petting zoo.  At umpqua’s Melrose Vineyards, a converted 100 year old barn with rustic yet refined beauty houses the tasting room and shop with loads of wine related products.  Along with live music and a BBQ, Melrose is celebrating their 11th anniversary. The view of the vineyards and rolling hills beyond is absolutely breathtaking from the porch off the back of the tasting room.

Reustel prayer rock piano amphitheater
The amphitheater at Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards | photo:

In the south willamette Valley, Winemaker Jonathan Oberlander of J.Scott Cellars will be opening the door to his tasting room located in west Eugene inside an urban-warehouse-style tasting room. Jonathan will be offering samples of his entire line-up of wines.  Special guest winemaker Mark Nicholl of William Rose Wines will be joining Jonathan on Saturday and pouring his current releases, as well.  Gourmet food truck Gastro Nomad will be parked outside of the winery preparing tasty treats that will be available for purchase for wine-goers.  Head a little west of the J. Scott tasting room, to Veneta’s Domaine Meriwether, and all weekend long the Meriwether wines will be available for tasting; in addition to, wines from a featured guest winemaker each day: Ray Walsh of Capitello on Saturday, Mark Nicholl of William Rose Wines on Sunday and Jeff Kandarian of Kandarian Wine Cellars on Monday.  There will be live music and BBQ foods available for purchase, and the best part about Saturday is that Ray Walsh will be releasing his unique Straw Wine, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve been following Ray’s making of this wine since I first spotted the drying grapes on straw mats inside Domaine Meriwether last October, and I’m looking forward to trying my first-ever straw wine.

Melrose Vineyards barn tasting room
Melrose Vineyards converted barn tasting room | photo: Melrose Facebook page

If you never made it to the Eugene Wine Cellars tasting room located in the Whiteaker Neighborhood (across the street from Wandering Goat), this is your chance to check it out after they closed their tasting room to the public six years ago.  This location has mainly been used for distributing their wines from the winery that’s connected to the tasting room.  This weekend, Eugene Wine Cellars will welcome wine enthusiasts back inside their Whitekaer tasting room to sample the line-up of their B2 wines, and they will continue to welcome guests Wednesday through Saturday from 4 pm to 8 pm and by appointment through the summer.  Another urban winery that’s not too far from Eugene Wine Cellars is Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company, and they’ll be offering case discounts along with live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Memorial Weekend events at the wineries abound, so check the side bar listing of featured events for everything that is happening in both the South Willamette and Umpqua Valleys.

Remember to take a moment and raise a glass to those who have fallen in battle fulfilling their obligation to this great country in which we live. The freedoms that we enjoy everyday are protected and ensured by men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our country and what it stands for.  Once I’m out swirling, sipping, and savoring all that our stellar local wineries have to offer, I’ll be sure to raise a glass to our American heroes.



Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene May 8-14

The newly released 2012 LaVelle Riesling

My readers already know that I love wine, but occasionally I like to sip on an ice cold pint of beer. There’s an event on Friday at 16 Tons that people who enjoy both beer and wine should not miss: Cheese Wars V: Wine vs Beer.

On Friday, May 10, with two sessions to choose from, Cheese Wars V will take place at 16 Tons Cafe located on Willamette Street. This fun and entertaining duel between wine and beer (to see which one pairs better with cheese) is not only tasty, but educational as well. Five courses of carefully selected cheese will be paired with five different wines from Raptor Ridge out of the Willamette Valley and five different beers from Breakside Brewing out of Portland. Both the winemaker from Raptor Ridge, Kevin Wiles; along with, Amy Maynard of Mitchell Wines, and the brew master from Breakside Brewing, will be presenting the wine and beer while answering any arising questions from the attending beer and wine enthusiasts. I’ve been to a couple of these before, take my word for it, the Cheese Wars is a whole lot of fun.

Just before sun set at Domine Meriwether

Aside from checking out the Cheese Wars at 16 Tons, with this perfect weather we’re having in the Willamette Valley, there is certainly no better time to head out to wine country. At LaVelle Vineyards in Elmira, their very popular Friday Night Flights started up again last weekend – several weeks earlier than planned because of the weather. The LaVelle’s just released two great hot-weather wines: 2012 Pinot Gris and 2012 Riesling. The Pinot Gris is fruity, yet dry with a mid palate shot of crisp green apple and sweet, yet zippy lemon on the lingering finish.  For those who prefer a tiny bit of sweetness in their wine, the just released LaVelle Riesling is outstanding. It’s fruit forward pear and apple aromas (and flavors) are combined with soft acidity and a hint of minerality, which rounds out the fruitiness just perfectly.

Another great Friday night spot, especially when we have such great weather, is Sparkling Nights at Domaine Meriwether. I was there last Friday, and was lucky enough to see Shelley and Cal (of Satin Love Orchestra) play live out on the patio – they’ll be playing at Meriwether every first Friday of the month this summer. I’ll tell you what, watching the sun set behind the foothills of the Coastal Range, bubbly in hand, with the tunes of Shelley and Cal in the background is pretty unbeatable.

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene

IMG_5730Regardless of being knocked down pretty hard from my surgery, along with a few minor post-op complications, life as a wine writer (and taster) continued without a glitch.  Less than 7 days after my surgery, I found myself getting ready for two back-to-back super fun wine tasting events that turned out to be incredibly educational: a Sherry tasting and pairing at the Broadway, and a Snooth virtual tasting of De Martino Chilean wines with Chile’s winemaker of the year, Marcelo Retamal.

Events at the Broadway are always well organized, and each time I attend one I walk away with a plethora of information about the wines experienced.  Most recently, I learned about the often misunderstood, fortified Sherrys.  For me, a bottle of Sherry sits in the pantry until it goes straight from the bottle into a tablespoon or measuring cup, and then directly into the sauce, dressing or pan.  Cooking Sherry’s sole purpose is to add flavor to cuisine – it has added preservatives to extend it’s shelf life, and is not suitable for drinking.

IMG_5740A sipping Sherry can be dry or sweet, served chilled or at room temperature, and paired with many different types of food.  It’s a fortified wine, which is wine with an added distilled beverage – usually brandy.  The two basic styles of Sherry are Fino and Oloroso.   Fino, which is dry and crisp, is a light, golden color.  The much darker Oloroso is richer, more full bodied and can range from being bone dry to super sweet.

We sampled six different Sherrys, ranging in price from $21 dollars to $42 dollars, and each style of sherry was paired with a different plate of food – an excellent experience that I’ll be sharing in full detail on

Right after the Sherry Tasting and Pairing, I jetted home to log onto my computer for one of Snooth’s ultra-fun live virtual tastings.  I’ve participated in several of these engaging and interactive events in the past, including a wonderful global Rosé tasting and my first ever tasting of Sandeman Ports.  The most recent tasting was focused on Chilean wines from De Martino winery – hosted by Snooth’s Editor in Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz, and Marcelo Retamal, world-renowned winemaker of De Martino wines.

IMG_5710One of the greatest benefits of the Snooth virtual tastings is that the winemakers and/or owners of the featured wineries are broadcast live during the events, giving participants an opportunity to learn and interact directly with the people behind the featured wines.  Broadcast live from Chile on, Marcelo Retamal talked about each of the wines, his organic farming practices, terroir and winemaking philosophies, while attendees tasted and evaluated each of the wines.  Just like with the Sherry tasting, I’ll be writing about the Chilean De Martino wines in detail on, so follow me over there to learn more about both of these great events!  You can also watch the broadcast in full by clicking the link above.

But this is not all that has been (and will be) keeping me busy and on my toes.  Tonight, I’ll be going to the return of Working Women’s Wednesday, hosted by KDUK and taking place out at Domaine Meriwether.  Early next week, I’ll be heading north, to the beautiful Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg, where I’ll meet up with the people behind the stellar wines of Duck Pond Cellars.  In celebration of their 20 years of thriving in the Northwest wine industry, we will tour their vineyards, have lunch in their greenhouse and eventually return to the Allison for a special dinner at the world famous Jory restaurant – ending this spectacular day with a night in one of the lovely rooms at The Allison Inn and Spa.  I’ll return from Newberg just in time to celebrate Malbec Day at Sam’s Place, where a tweet up and tasting of Malbecs will be the focus around the globe (see flyer for details).

tweetup-copyWith the way Spring started with quite a bang (Snooth trip to New York City) and continuing along with many fun events over the next few weeks, I can’t wait until summer rolls around. I have a feeling my calender will be filled with all sorts of outstanding wine related events. One I already have marked on my calender is the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) – an event I have waned to attend for years, and thanks to the Oregon Wine Board, I’ll be attending for the first time, this summer.

Wine Down Eugene


Wine Down Eugene February 13-19

Chef Heidi Tunnell’s famous Ciabatta bread, grilled. Yum

I used to think that wineries sort of slowed down during the winter months, the perfect time for a well deserved break between harvest in the fall and bud break in the spring. Lately, however, wineries are buzzing year round with tastings and special events. I recently spent time in Carlton, sampling over 40 wines for the Winter Wine Tasting and Carlton Bite. I went truffle hunting at Willamette Valley Vineyards, followed by a fabulous truffle and mushroom themed lunch. The rest of the weekend was spent in food and wine centric Portland – where I joined in on a dinner event with Montinore Estate at wine destination restaurant Metrovino. There’s no doubt about it, the wineries are still very busy entertaining all of us wine enthusiasts.

Valentine’s Cellar Dinner at Domaine Meriwether

Just this past weekend, I attended two stellar events, back to back. On Saturday, I enjoyed a food and wine feast out at Sweet Cheeks Winery for their special winemakers dinner, Feast In The Cellar. Featuring excellent culinary creations by Iron Chef Heidi Tunnell, a group of about 30 people imbibed in the beautifully decorated, candle-lit cellar. Sweet Cheeks winemaker, Mark Nicholl, talked about the wines as we sipped and ate. In between courses, Chef Heidi joined our group and talked about the food – where it came from and why she paired it with particular wines.

The very next day, I joined another group of about 30 people at Domaine Meriwether Winery for a Valentine’s Cellar Dinner. While a harpist played beautiful music in the background, we joined owner, Buzz Kawders, at a beautifully decorated red and white themed table for a delectable meal prepared by Chef Garrett Kirsch of B2 Wine Bar. I’ll be sharing these events and more on my award winning website,

EDN’s new beer writer: Lana O’Brien

Attending all of these fabulous events makes me feel like a very lucky wine gal, and words can not describe how excited I am for tomorrow! I’ll be staying overnight at Timberline Lodge, and attending a very special Valentine’s Day Winemakers Dinner with Willamette Valley Vineyards. The dinner is being held inside the historic Silcox Hut, located at the peak of Mt. Hood – at 7,000 feet above sea level! Indeed, I’m quite the lucky wine gal. Life is good. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience in detail on

Special Note: Please join me in welcoming our new beer writer, Lana O’brien. Lana will be in charge of the new Hopped Up Eugene column, published weekly – every Wednesday – in conjunction with Wine Down Eugene. Welcome, Lana!

Wine Bars, Shops and Restaurants


The Barn Light: Everyday 4-7 pm, Happy Hour specials on beer, wine and cocktails. 924 Willamette St., Eugene.

Heidi Tunnell Catering Company: Tue. bakery 10 am- 6 pm, lunch from 11 am – 2 pm and dinner from 4-7 pm; Thur. 6 pm, Family Style Dinner featuring a special Valentine’s Day Dinner with Braised Pork Cheeks, Salad and Ciabatta Rolls. Reservations are strongly recommended. Doors open at 6 pm with appetizers, excellent selection of beer and wine available for purchase.  Read about the Thurs. family-style dinners on 182 South Second St., Creswell.

Territorial Vineyards and Wine Co.: Thu. 5-11 pm, live music starts around 7 pm with Hot Milk; Fri. 5-11 pm, Third Friday BBQ and live music starts around 7 pm with Sean Peterson Jazz Trio. 907 West Third Ave., Eugene.

16Tons (Cafe): Wed. 7-10 pm, Trivia Night; Thu. 6-10 pm, Party Cart Valentine’s Day Dessert and Beer Pairing; Every Fri. 6 pm, free live music; Every Sun. and Mon. 4-10 pm deals on growler and mason jar fills. 2864 Willamette St., Eugene.

16Tons (Taphouse): Sun.-Wed. noon – 10 pm, Thu.-Sat. noon – 12 am (except New Year’s Eve). Great selection of beer and wine. 265 East 13th Ave., Eugene.

Broadway Wine Merchants: Fri. 5-7 pm, Free Friday Wine Tasting with Foundry Vineyards; Tue. 6 pm,  Corte Alla Wine Dinner. Call 541-685-0790. 17 Oakway Center, Eugene.

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

LaVelle Tasting Room at 5th Street Market: Mon. – Sat. 12-7 pm, Sun. 12–6 pm;  Thu. 5-7 pm, live music with Gus Russell; Fri. 5-7 pm, live music. 296 E. 5th Ave., Eugene.

Ninkasi Brewing: Tasting room hours: Sun.-Wed. 12-9 pm, Thu.-Sat. 12-10 pm. Indoor and outdoor seating, food available for purchase from varying food carts. 272 Van Buren St., Eugene.

The Wine Place (Yachats): Sat.12-4 pm wine tasting – NW wines with special guest Aaron Jensen; Sat. 4-7 pm, Happy Hour with J.Scott Cellars in the Loft. 373 N. Hwy. 101, Yachats.

Wineries without Walls: Closed except for special events, which will be listed here.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.

SweetWaters at Valley River Inn: Every Thu. 4 – 7 pm, Free wine tasting featuring a different winery each week. 1000 Valley River Way, Eugene.

B2 Wine Bar: Happy Hour Mon.-Fri., 4-6 pm, and 9-10 pm. 2794 Shadow Dr., Eugene.

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

Authentica Wines: Hours are 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.  766 W. Park St., Eugene.

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

Koho Bistro: Wed. Wine Wednesdays – 25 percent off bottles of wine. Happy Hour daily from 5 – 6:30 pm $1 off beers on tap, well drinks and wine. Read the Local Lunch Gals review. 2101 Bailey Hill Rd, Suite L, Eugene.

Café 440: Wed. 5 pm, 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.  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. 384 W. 13th 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. 1626 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. 898 Pearl St., Eugene.

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

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

Wineries & Vineyards


Sarver Winery: Fri. 4pm, Delicious Homemade Soups and vintage concert series on the big screen; Last Sat. of each month, 6 pm, Steak Night – Hors D’oeuvres, Black pepper and sea salt New York Strip or Rib Eyes topped with gorgonzola compound butter, and served with garlic and sour cream mashed red skins and homemade Caesar salad. Reservations required. Open daily 12-6 pm except Fri 12-9. 2600 Mayola Ln., Eugene.

LaVelle Vineyards (winery in Elmira): Sat. Feb. 16, Annual Mardi Gras Party; Visit the winery daily, Mon.-Thu. 12-5 pm, and Sat./Sun. 12-6 pm. 89697 Sheffler Rd., Elmira.

Sweet Cheeks: Thu.12-6 pm, Romancing the Vineyard live music and food featuring Crepe CycletteFri. 6-9 pm, Twilight Tasting, sample pairings of Sweet Cheeks wine with Oregon-made artisan cheeses while listening to live music from 6:30-8:30 pm with Michael Conley; Sun. 12-6 pm, Mimosa Sunday with live music from 2-4 pm with Jen Sennet-Franklin. 27007 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene.

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

Domaine Meriwether: Fri. 6-9 pm. Sparkling Nights – wine tasting and live music; Open Daily 11 am – 4 pm, except Fri. for Sparkling Nights. 88324 Vineyard Lane, Veneta.

King Estate: Visit the winery daily 11 am – 8 pm. 80854 Territorial Hwy., Eugene.

Saginaw Vineyard: Fri. 6-9 pm, Friday Night LIVE featuring John Shipe / 60s – 80s originals and covers. Friday Night LIVE is held indoors for the winter months and minors are not permitted. For more information, please click here; 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.

RainSong Vineyard: Two open houses a year: Memorial Day Weekend and Thanksgiving Weekend. Unique barrel bottling program. 92989 Templeton Rd., Cheshire.

Chateau Lorane: Open daily, 12-5 pm. 27415 Siuslaw River Rd., Lorane.

Pfeiffer Winery: Open Mon.-Thu. 11 am – 5 pm and Fri./Sat. 11 am – 9 pm. Warm up with their hot mulled wine on the weekends. 25040 Jaeg Rd., Junction City.

Brigadoon Wine Co.: Fri. – Sun. 12-5 pm wine tasting in their tasting room. 25166 Ferguson Rd., Junction City.

Benton-Lane: Sun. Heart of Willamette Wineries Association 3rd Annual Barrel Tour. Call the winery for details 541-847-5792; Open Mon.-Fri. 12-5 pm in January and February. For a relaxed one hour wine tasting with the owner in a special wine room overlooking the vineyards, call the winery for details 541-847-5792. 23924 Territorial Hwy., Monroe.

Noble Estate: Open daily 12-5 pm. 29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., Eugene.

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. 373 North Hwy. 101, Yachats.

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

The south Willamette Valley is home to many stellar vintners that do not have tasting rooms. Check back frequently for tasting/event information on the following wineries without walls: Capitello Wines, William Rose Wines, Patchwork Cellars, Abbelone Vineyards, Stanton Vineyards, Kandarian Wine Cellars, Oakdale Cellars, Briggs Hill Winery, Iris Vineyards, Dylan’s Run, Fractal Cellars.

Upcoming Events


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. 182 South Second St., Creswell.

The Bier Stein: Feb. 20, 7-9 pm. Green Flash Brewing Draft Night and Free Tasting. 345 E. 11 Ave., Eugene.

16Tons (Cafe): Thu. Feb. 21, Ninkasi’s Allies and Aliens – Mini Tap Takeover with Ninkasi’s Jeff Long. Jeff will be pouring samples of Allies and Aliens and more! El Dorado and other beers also on tap; Feb. 22, 5-8 pm. Claim 52 Tap Takeover and Tasting. Meet the brewers and taste the beer. 2864 Willamette St., Eugene.

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