Down Wine Lover’s Lane
By Joe McCully
June is a terrific time to visit the wineries of Lane County; the vineyards are bursting with growth, looking young and full of promise, and the doors to a dozen wineries are open and welcoming during the seventh annual Lane County Summer Barrel Tour.
The first tour, June 6, features wineries in the southern part of the county, and the second, June 20, covers wineries in the north. Deluxe charter buses take aspiring oenophiles to six wineries on each tour.
It’s a great way to enjoy wine and food since each winery features three foods to complement the wines they’ll be pouring; of course, many are straight from the barrel.
“This is one of the favorite events that our staff looks forward to,” said Lorrie Normann of Sweet Cheeks Winery. “The buses pull up, and everyone is so happy. People really enjoy the barrel samples. You don’t usually get to sample straight from the barrel unless it’s a special tasting, and in our case, our winemaker Mark Nichol will be providing the samples and answering questions.”
Besides being a lot of fun, the Barrel Tour is also an educational experience. Angela Bennett of Silvan Ridge, is one of the organizers and values the educational aspects of the tour.
“The Barrel Tour is educational in many ways,” Bennett explained. “First, many people have no idea that there are so many of us in Lane County and have never visited some of the smaller wineries on the tour. Also, each winery has something different to offer, both outside of the tour and the day of, so people learn about the diversity of our area as it pertains to winemaking and how it makes our area unique and special.”
Eugene resident and artist Lorre Lucas is returning for her third tour.
“The Barrel Tour is a fantastic experience that I look forward to every spring,” Lucas noted. “The wine bus, itself, is so much fun and the scenery is absolutely spectacular this time of year. All the wineries put on an incredible spread, and you feel like such pampered special guest at each and every stop. It showcases Oregon’s beautiful wineries and winemakers to perfection.”
Each bus will have a guide who is familiar with the wineries and willing to share a few good wine jokes, which usually become funnier as the day progresses. There’s no better way to spend a day in wine country—great wine, wonderful food, and making new friends.
A word of caution: Don’t put off purchasing tickets for the Barrel Tour; before you know it they may be harder to find than a good Pinot for under $10.
A one-day pass is $60. Buses load at 9:45 a.m. and leave at 10 a.m. from the parking lot between the Valley River Inn and Macy’s. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 877-725-8849, or visit www.wineriesoflanecounty.com or Ticket Alternative at www.ticketalternative.com .
King Estate Winery
Silvan Ridge-Hinman Vineyards
Sweet Cheeks Winery
High Pass Winery