When you step inside Iris Vineyards’ downtown Springfield wine bar, the sound of traffic is extinguished. Once inside, it’s easy to get lost in the world of Iris’s variety of wines, from pinot noirs to chardonnays to wine-based cocktails.
The winery’s Springfield location opened June 2022, making its Main Street storefront its first wine room for the public since its vineyard tasting room near King Estate closed in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, says winery administrator Lindsey Ragsdale.
Iris Vineyards’ estate off of Territorial Highway is where it grows pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes. But the winery also buys grapes from southern Oregon for certain wines, such as its tempranillo and malbec varieties.
The vineyard’s winemaker, Aaron Lierberman, approaches wine by relying on the high quality of the wine they grow, Ragsdale says. “It’s got good complexity, but still approachable to people that aren’t very familiar with wine,” she says. “It’s not oversaturated. You actually get to see all of the characteristics in the wine, and he brings out a lot of the natural flavors of the grapes.”
And you can find that in two of its chardonnays, which don’t have overwhelming flavors, making them a fine drink for spring and summer. The Willamette Valley chardonnay has a smooth start and finishes with a slight citrusy bite, and its top-shelf Areté chardonnay has a delicate balance found in smoother citrus fruits.
But it’s the pinot noir lines that stand out for Ragsdale as Iris’s introductory wines. Pinot noirs are the vineyard’s most popular and widely produced wine, she says, and the winery recently brought home a gold medal for one of its pinot noirs in the recent Great American International Wine Competition.
Iris Vineyards has more than its wine for sale at the Main Street wine bar. Wine-based cocktails have grown in popularity, but they’re not using bad wine or cheap spirits for the liquor.
“From chardonnay we made gin and bourbon,” Ragsdale says. “The gin we infused with botanicals so it has those gin characteristics. And our bourbon version is barrel aged to replicate the smokiness.”
Adding wine cocktails to the menu is what makes Iris Vineyards’ Springfield wine bar more of an urban drinkery, rather than a wine tasting room that you would expect out in the country.
“We wanted to make sure it was not just more of the same. We wanted to actually make it a little more urban and approachable and draw more attention locally,” Ragsdale says. “We want to make it special to come out here in town.”
Iris Vineyards Wine Bar is at 322 Main Street, Springfield. Hours are 11:30 am to 8 pm Thursday through Sunday. Visit IrisVineyards.com for more information.