By guest bloggers U of O Students, Hannah Longo and Krista Hauk
Marking the second leg of the 10th annual Barrel Tour event, the June 9 featured wineries include: Sweet Cheeks Winery, LaVelle Vineyards, Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company and Domaine Meriwether. After interviewing at each location it’s safe to say that guests touring this Saturday are in for a real treat.
Sweet Cheeks Winery
As owner Dan Smith sat with his neighbor and watched while his new vineyard was being plowed for the first time in 1978, he noticed two evenly rounded hills and a space in the middle where tractors would drive down the middle in a way that resembled thighs. He turned to his neighbor and made a joke about naming his vineyard Sweet Cheeks. While Dan thought that was the end of their conversation, his neighbor had another idea and went into town to register the vineyard as Sweet Cheeks Vineyard. Weeks later Dan started getting mail addressed to Sweet Cheeks Vineyard and realized that the name fit.
Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley wine appellation, this 65 acre is known for its impeccable views and sensible prices. “Since we’ve opened our tasting room, one of the things that stands us apart is the friendly, comfortable atmosphere. The staff is knowledgeable and happy to help a new wine drinker experience wine tasting and learn more about the wine,” says Kacy Minnis, Sweet Cheeks’ winery manager.
Sweet Cheeks takes a hands-on approach in producing their wine – they are involved in the winemaking process from the vineyard to the bottle and into the customers’ hands; and their minimal handling of the grapes also allow the wine to speak for themselves. The Barrel Tour gives guests of Sweet Cheeks the rare opportunity to a tour of the back of the winery, something they don’t normally offer. Through its exceptional customer service, pristine scenery, and not to mention exquisite wine, Sweet Cheeks has lived up to its name in every way and is a destination that everyone should look forward to visiting on June 9th.
Joining his father six years ago, Matthew LaVelle started making wines for the 16 acre estate in 2008. Having some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley, the members of the LaVelle family pride themselves on the fact that they are involved in the wine process from beginning to end; from growing their own grapes to processing the wine to selling each hand-crafted bottle themselves.
Serving guests at two locations, June 9 participants will get the chance to venture out to the LaVelle Vineyard in Elmira. Guests will have the opportunity to see the beautiful property where LaVelle Vineyards provides driving tours of the property that end at the top of the hill, overlooking the vineyard and Fern Ridge lake. The top of the hill marks where visitors can enjoy a bottle of wine and a specially packaged piknik pieced together by the winery, as well as the exact spot Matthew LaVelle and his wife were married. It’s a stop on the tour you won’t want to miss!
When guests visit and taste the wine at Territorial for the first time, they always come away thoroughly impressed with the quality. And with good reason, because it is a trait this smaller production winery prides itself on.
Owned by two local grape growing families, Territorial Winery was started in 2001, though the vineyards have been growing grapes for more than twenty years. Territorial is an urban winery located in the colorful and funky Whitaker neighborhood in downtown Eugene. The design and build of the state-of-the-art winemaking facility allows for an indoor crush pad and in-house climate controlled case storage. Territorial is named after the road that connects the vineyards on which the grapes are grown. Alan Mitchell, vineyard manager, explained “terr” means Earth, and “terroir” expresses transparency and means more than the earth, the place, climate, valley – giving the grapes a sense of place. Although the vineyards are 25 miles apart, they still have Territorial Road to link them together.
During the Barrel Tour, guests can expect to try two true barrel samples, the 2011 Chardonnay straight from the barrel, and the signature wine from Equinox, its partner vineyard. Many who visit this unique urban winery come away with a new perspective on what a winery can offer – one that Barrel Tour guests should be eager to visit.
What started as a quest is now their passion, producing world-class sparkling wines.
In 1998 this vision became reality with their first harvest. Now, 14 years later, their commitment to showcasing Oregon’s bounty has expanded into an award-winning portfolio of still and sparkling wines.
“People coming to our winery will have the ability to sample some world class champagne. That is what makes us unique on the Barrel Tour stop” Buzz Kawders, Director of Operations, explained. Duly noted, Domaine Meriwether’s particular attention to the wine and food pairings for this tour will demonstrate the versatility of their sparkling wines; a delightful and delicious experience for guests attending the June 9 tour.
Making tremendous progress and strides on building their new facility since their acquisition of the historic property three years ago, Kawders and the rest of the Domaine Meriwether team encourage and invite everyone to come experience world class champagne at their new location.