Once, embarking on a winetasting tour from Eugene involved driving at least 20-30 minutes south, west or north, where wineries and tasting rooms dot the southern Willamette Valley landscape.
Now, a compelling array of tastes can be savored without leaving the city limits. The number of local wineries with urban tasting rooms, warehouses and winemaking facilities has more than doubled in the past year, and two — Capitello Wines and William Rose Wines (part of Mark Nicholl’s Oregon Wine LAB) — have opened just in recent days. They join the existing in-town locations of J. Scott Cellars, Eugene Wine Cellars and Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co. to form a true urban wine “trail” with plenty of oenological diversity to explore far from the vineyards, but tantalizingly close to home for many local wine fans.
So the timing couldn’t be better for the South Willamette Wineries Association’s first Urban Wine Circuit on Saturday, Dec. 14, which will celebrate Eugene’s growing cluster of in-town winemakers.
“There is a community of really unique, creative winemakers in Eugene,” says Marina Baldry, promoter of this and other events for the wineries association. “More emphasis has been brought to our rural wineries through the barrel tours we do in the summer, and the urban wineries wanted something special for them.
“A lot of them have been considered ‘wineries without walls’ and are just now opening tasting rooms, so they’re putting a lot of creative reflection into dé cor, food, music and atmosphere. This tour will give Eugeneans a chance to not only learn what these winemakers are about, but to really feel the presence of wine in the community.”
The self-guided tour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. will include stops at the five aforementioned tasting rooms, where each will serve tastes of two of its wines.
What’s more, each featured winery will share the spotlight with one other local small-batch wine label that lacks a physical winery or tasting room. These guest producers include Abbelone Vineyards, Five H Wines, Opine Cellars, Poco Collina/Gelardi Vineyard and Stanton Vineyard.
That makes 10 local boutique producers that each will serve two wines — many of them small-batch, reserve and otherwise hard-to-come-by selections — with special food pairings to accompany each wine poured.
Stops along the way
Here is an overview of the five locations on the Urban Wine Circuit, four of which are within easy walking/biking distance of each other in downtown Eugene and the adjacent Whiteaker neighborhood:
Capitello Wines: 540 Charnelton St., Eugene (in the former Lord Leebrick Theater Co. building). Guest winery: Stanton Vineyard. 541-520-3092; capitellowines.com
William Rose Wines/Oregon Wine LAB: 488 Lincoln St., Eugene. Guest winery: Abbelone Vineyards. 541-852-6233; oregon winelab.com, williamrosewines.com
Eugene Wine Cellars: 255 Madison St., Eugene. Guest winery: Opine Cellars. 541-342-2600; eugenewinecellars.com
Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co.: 907 W. Third Ave., Eugene. Guest winery: Five H Wines. 541-684-9463; territorialvineyards.com
J. Scott Cellars: 520 Commercial St., Suite G, Eugene. Guest winery: Poco Collina/Gelardi Vineyard. 541-514-5497; jscottcellars.com
Tastings editor Joel Gorthy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @JGorthyRG.