The Willamette Valley produces some of the finest wines in the world. Visiting these wineries and vineyards can require quite a trek, but options also abound around town — Eugene is home to several wine tasting rooms that feature local wines. And Springfield’s Main Street will soon have its first when Iris Vineyard opens its wine bar.
The good news about Eugene’s wine tasting scene means you can even leave the car at home and visit these locations on a bike. Don’t have one? The PeaceHealth bicycles are free for the month of May, which is National Bicycle Month (visit PeaceHealthRides.com for more information). But don’t get on a bike if you’re inebriated, because you can still get a DUII.
Pfeiffer Winery’s tasting room, the most recent addition in Eugene, is the first local winery that visitors taste, says Danuta Pfeiffer, a founder of the winery. Because of its proximity to the Gordon Hotel and Graduate Eugene, visitors often stop by at their 5th Street Market Alley tasting room, sometimes unaware that Oregon makes some of the world’s finest wine. That is until they enter Pfeiffer’s wine tasting room, which she calls the “ultimate boutique” experience.
The winery offers wine flights, Pfeiffer says, and the king (pinot noir) and queen (pinot gris) of wine are often poured for customers. But Pfeiffer says Oregon chardonnay is growing in popularity. “It’s clean and crisp. It’s not over OK,” she adds. Because the winery is at the 5th Street Market Alley, Pfeiffer says wine tasters have a lot of snack options while sipping — from Cafe Yumm! to Euphoria Chocolate.
Pfeiffer Winery is at 590 Pearl Street, ste. 107. Hours are 11 am to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday, 11 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday. Visit PfeifferWinery.com for more information.
Oregon Wine Lab
Oregon Wine Lab has its own winery on the premises (William Rose), but it also offers wine lovers bottles from various wineries in the area that don’t have tasting rooms, says Oregon Wine Lab tasting room manager Liz Pentland. With so much to offer, Pentland says the winery has something for everyone, such as a dry riesling that’s stiff and punchy and a grenache that’s easy to drink. And, she adds, this summer William Rose will have its first ever sauvignon blanc on its menu that she says will be a “patio pounder” for the summer.
Outside of Oregon Wine Lab is Da Nang Vietnamese Eatery, which has been voted by EW’s readers in the past as Best Food Cart. The food cart and Oregon Wine Lab have been paired together for several years, Pentland says, and it’s impossible to find something off its menu that doesn’t pair well with the tasting room — whether it’s a rosé and tofu noodle bowl or riesling and chicken and rice noodle.
Oregon Wine Lab is at 488 Lincoln Street. Hours are noon to 9 pm Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm Sunday. Visit OregonWineLab.com for more information.
Capitello’s wines have dual citizenship — literally. The winery produces wine from grapes that are sourced from New Zealand and Oregon, says owner and operations manager Jen Hilliard-Walsh. It’s the only Oregon winery to do so, she says.
In addition to offering pinot noirs from both Oregon and New Zealand, Capitello produces sauvignon gris, a variety of wine that is made in France, New Zealand, Chile and — now — the Pacific Northwest, Hilliard-Walsh says. Sauvignon gris is like the cousin of the grapefruit sauvignon blanc, she adds, but instead it has more mineral and floral notes.
If you’re looking for food, the winery offers charcuterie boards of meat and cheese and bread from Metropol, Noisette and Reality Kitchen. And Capitello’s downtown wine tasting room hosts the popular Pizzeria DOP cart, owned by Rocky Maselli.
Capitello Wines is at 540 Charnelton Street. Hours are noon to 8 pm Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 9 pm Friday, Saturday and noon to 5 pm Sundays, May through August. Visit CapitelloWines.com for more information.
J Scott Cellars on 5th
Pinot noirs are wildly popular for Oregon wineries, says J. Scott owner Jonathan Oberlander. And the state is known for having some of the best pinot noirs, but Oberlander says he wants to explore varieties of wine that you can’t find elsewhere. The winery makes some of the best red blends that are full of flavor without breaking the bank. And that’s not all J. Scott does. Oberlander says J. Scott is a white wine specialist, but he also likes to show customers their other varieties, such as malbec, grenache and — of course — pinot noir.
J. Scott Cellars on 5th’s neighbors are some of Eugene’s finest, including Marché and Sushi Pure. Oberlander says there’s no judgment if someone brings in outside food to his wine tasting room, but he says the winery boasts a good sized menu, designed by chefs trained at Lane Community College’s culinary program.
Capitello Wines is at 207 E. 5th Avenue, ste. 105. Hours are noon to 7 pm Wednesday through Thursday and Sunday, noon to 8 pm Friday and Saturday. Visit JScottCellars.com for more information.
Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company
Territorial’s wine bar in the Whiteaker neighborhood isn’t a pretentious wine tasting room. Rather than the sort of setting from Sideways, says Alan Mitchell, owner of Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company, it’s more like a Cheers place — the customers and staff know each other and their favorites.
That’s not to say Territorial doesn’t take its wine seriously, Mitchell says. He points to the winery’s Stone’s Throw pinot noir. It’s approachable for someone who doesn’t have a sophisticated palate, but the wine nerds will geek out on it, he adds.
Near Territorial is the Willamette Artisan Pizza food cart, which Mitchell says makes an excellent pair with the wine menu. “We have a couple of rosés that are wonderful,” he adds. “It’s palate cleansing and you’re ready for the next bite of food.”
Territorial Vineyards and Wine Company is at 907 W. 3rd Avenue. 5 to 9 pm Thursday through Saturday. Visit TerritorialVineyards.com for more information.