These wine divas rarely agree on anything, however, there is ONE thing they absolutely agree on; The South Willamette Wine Region offers amazing wine and wine experience! Alyssa lives in the country and Denise lives in the city, so it’s no surprise that one loves the romance of the vineyard, rolling hills and gorgeous views while the other enjoys the hip and trendy urban experience...
While I am a fan of ALL of our urban wineries; J Scott Cellars, Noble Estate, Capitello, Oregon Wine Lab, Eugene Wine Cellars and Territorial Vineyards & Wine Co...I am tasked to pick just one...(really??). OK ...We're heading to the Whit!
My partner in crime is a gun-toting, wine-drinking, country party girl, but I prefer the more refined, cultural experience of sipping downtown. OK, whhhaatt? I am talking about the hip, trendy, tie-dyed area called The Whit (AKA, the Whitaker neighborhood). My favorite Urban Winery resides in this amazing and colorful neighborhood. Eugene Wine Cellars was conceived by Bruce Biehl in 1998, and in 1999 the “Urban Winery” was established in the Whitaker neighborhood near downtown Eugene, Oregon. My dear friend, Bev (Bruce's sister) retired after 30 years of teaching to join the family biz and now runs the downtown tasting room. EWC is known for for it's friendly, esoteric ambience and amazing wines. They are also a "custom crush pad" which means local winemakers often make their wines available in the tasting room. EWC's label, B , was designed by Phil Cowles in 2004 and represents the initials of the three siblings Bruce, Brad, and Beverly Biehl. The Biehl's shared interest in agriculture, science and math which spawned the phrase EWC = b2. Today I would choose their crisp Viognier as a summer favorite - in fact, I recently paired it with a salted caramel cheesecake drizzled with Irish cream...WOW! Their Pinot Noir is a crowd pleaser as well! When you have the pleasure of visiting EWC you will likely find Bev behind the bar. You are in for a treat my friend. Her sharp wit, sunny disposition and huge smile makes everyone who visits feel like family.
As the country girl of the duo, I always tend to prefer the land and views that the country always holds. I love the beautiful expanse of skies and all the green landscapes Oregon is known for. Not that the urban wineries don’t have their positives, but I will always prefer grass over concrete. That said, I have a few favorite wineries from around my home in the South Willamette Valley. Now I typically don’t meet a winery or a wine that I don’t like- it’s a very rare occasion that typically calls for some extra wine- but some just can’t be beat. Let’s start closest to my house, with my absolute favorite winery, Sarver.
Sarver is perched on the top of what the locals call, “Crow Hill”. Their patio looks out over farmland and forested properties with views of the 3 Sisters mountains on a clear day. To say it’s a beautiful view is a gross understatement.
It’s seriously the best view in Lane County, in my humble opinion. Now that you understand the beautiful view you are in for at Sarver Winery, let’s move on to the wine and the vibe. This is a winery that thinks outside the Willamette Valley box from a delightfully balanced Semi-Sparkling Early Muscat to a big bold Syrah, you can find all different types of wines that will tantalize every wine-o’s palate. They also have an amazing food menu (this is where my 11-year- old son tried Duck Liver Mousse for the 1st time), its very family friendly, and if Ian is behind the counter - you can expect a knowledgeable, friendly and fun experience.
Last time I was there I couldn’t put down their 2015 Pinot Noir Rose’, in addition to their Early Muscat, it is my seasonal favorite. It’s crisp, a teeny bit sweet with balanced fruity and earthy notes. Perfect to age in your cellar, or to drink now. For a non-seasonal favorite, I would have to pick their Cuvee’. Right now they are serving their 2013 vintage which is a fan favorite. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Petit Syrah - It’s lovely, balanced and an amazing “bold-ish” red. Sarver is obviously my favorite, but the South Willamette Valley holds many hidden treasurers, most of which have enough parking for smaller-midsize RVs.
In addition to Sarver, make sure to check out Noble Estate, and Bennet Vineyards. Noble has the most extensive wine tasting list I’ve seen, and Bennett has the best Rose’ and Riesling, of any Valley winery I’ve tried. If you have the time, make sure to take a guided tour with Wine Events Oregon, or take a day and travel the area. You will not be disappointed!