One of the best things about living in Oregon is that we are surrounded by abundant farms and vineyards. Since moving here more than a decade ago, supporting our local winemakers has been a part of life, with or without kids in tow.
In part two of this two-part wine series, I’m excited to share more about the seven wonderful eco-friendly Oregon wineries we’ve visited this past year, as well as highlight a few special wines we’ll be savoring this year.
First, before we dive in, did you know that Oregon is among the top five wine producers in the United States, and according to Travel Oregon has the highest percentage of third-party, certified-sustainable grape growers of any region in the world? For a brief introduction to Oregon’s wine, click here for a downloadable brochure (which includes a map of the wine-growing regions of Oregon), and you can also download or order a free Oregon Wine Touring Guide!
And now, on to the amazing eco-friendly Oregon wineries we have visited recently, and will be returning to again and again.
Lemelson Vineyards (organic)
Website | Directions | Carlton, OR (Yamhill-Carlton) | $39 deposit
Last summer during a spontaneous road trip through the Yamhill-Carlton region, we called ahead to Lemelson Vineyards and were quickly and graciously accommodated on their lovely patio with our two children and dog in tow. We enjoyed a relaxing tasting of five of their estate-grown wines and learned a bit about the winery from the knowledgeable server. Lemelson Vineyards specializes in estate-grown pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, and riesling utilizing organic farming methods and gravity flow production.
I also found it interesting that Eric Lemelson, winery owner, is involved with several charitable foundations, is an environmental lawyer and climate change and energy policy activist, and a builder of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings.
Broadley Vineyards (sustainable and organically farmed)
We’ve enjoyed Broadley Vineyard’s pinot noirs for some time now, but we’ve only picked up wine to go from their tasting room in the little town of Monroe and have not been able to have a more leisurely visit. Recently, we had a special opportunity to visit the family estate and speak with Morgan Broadley, principal winemaker and vineyard manager, and his wife Jessica. We lucked out with beautiful weather for a drive to the country and learned so much from them about their practices.
Broadley Vineyards is 100% family-owned and operated, having been founded by Craig and Claudia Broadley in 1981 on a “shoestring budget,” and the land is now managed by son Morgan (principal winemaker) and his wife Jessica. The estate vineyard, comprised of 33 acres planted in pinot noir, gamay noir, and chardonnay grapes, is farmed using sustainable practices. While the wine itself is not certified organic, no herbicides are used on the land, and organic material is used to enrich the vines. A few unique things the Broadley’s shared about their vineyard include the special location (“on a cool site within a warm climate”), the climate itself is optimal for pinot noir grapes, the clay soil (which allows them to “dry farm” and conserve water), and the lyre trellis system which allows for better sun exposure and airflow.
Broadley produces more than ten pinot noirs, chardonnays, and rose wines, and you can read some of the accolades here. The tasting room is now open Thursday – Sunday from 1-5, and they also have a riverside patio during fair weather.
Antiquum Farm (grazing-based viticulture practices)
Website | Directions | Junction City, OR (Willamette Valley) | Experiences
Last spring, we experienced a beautiful private tour and tasting at Antiquum Farm with another couple, situated on their lovely patio. Andrew Bandy-Smith, the winemaker and general manager, spent so much time with us thoughtfully answering questions and then taking us on a tour into the vineyard which included meeting the resident farm dogs, KuneKune pigs, sheep, and a variety of fowl.
Antiquum does not carry specific certifications nor use them in labeling, but their grapes are farmed using organic materials (sulfur and stylet oil for mildew control) and grazing-based viticulture is an important ecological practice at the farm. (Please refer to part one of this two-part series, Why You Should Consider Supporting Organic, Biodynamic, and Eco-Friendly Winemakers, for more on why certifications should not be the only factor while choosing which wineries to support.) Antiquum Farm is currently sold out of wine and the farm is closed for public tastings, but they anticipate reopening in late spring 2022. In the meantime, check out their schedule of “Winery in Residence” tastings, lunches, and dinners here.
Civic Winery & Wines (organic and biodynamic)
Website | Directions | Eugene, OR (Willamette Valley) | Tasting fees vary
If you are in the Eugene area or are visiting the southern Willamette Valley wine region, make sure to stop by this urban winery project, which focuses on organic and biodynamic grape growing and processing. Civic Winery & Wines makes natural wine with minimal intervention (under its label) and is only one of a few wineries with a core focus on fermenting and aging in clay vessels. Their wines can be found in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., California, Seattle, and Portland. They also have a wine bar with local and international natural wines, a unique event space for up to 250 people for your private event, and special food pop-ups. Shop online here (curbside available for Eugene residents) or subscribe to sign up for news and updates.
King Estate Winery (organic and certified Biodynamic®)
Website | Directions | Eugene, OR (Southern Willamette Valley)
Breathtaking King Estate Winery, North America’s largest certified Biodynamic® vineyard, is a top destination for wine lovers touring the southern Willamette Valley. I’ll admit, after a few initial visits shortly after we moved to Oregon, we pivoted to alternatives that were more picnic and kid-friendly, but I returned this fall with a couple of friends and we had an outstanding experience. There’s a delicious restaurant on site (with estate-sourced ingredients), and you can enjoy sweeping views of the estate from the spacious patio while you savor your wines. King Estate has been organic since 2002 and Biodynamic® since 2016. Shop online here.
Troon Vineyard (Biodynamic® and Regenerative Organic® Certified)
Website | Directions | Grants Pass, OR (+ new McMinnville wine bar!) (Applegate Valley)
Last fall, we took a spontaneous road trip down to Southern Oregon to see old friends who were visiting Ashland, and we decided to meet for a fall foliage hike and a winery or two afterward in the Applegate Valley. I don’t remember where we heard about Troon Vineyard, other than a search (and we were excited that it was organic and Biodynamic®), and we were pleased with our visit. The estate boasts beautiful views of the surrounding Siskiyou Mountains, and our party including four kids and two dogs was welcomed on the patio with short notice. We loved the wines so much that we brought two special bottles home to enjoy over the holidays.
Wooldridge Creek Winery, Creamery, and Charcuterie
Website | Directions | Grants Pass, OR (Applegate Valley)
After a beautiful fall hike, we were pleased to make Wooldridge Creek Winery, Creamery, and Charcuterie our first stop in the Applegate, Oregon’s first winery and creamery. Our larger party with children and two dogs was welcomed on the spacious patio with beautiful views of the surrounding Applegate Valley, and we enjoyed handcrafted wines, artisan cheeses (made from local organic milk), and charcuterie. I later learned that the upper vineyard was homesteaded by the family in the 1870s and the creek that runs through it provides an important wildlife corridor. The property is also a sustainable winery and vineyard and certified salmon safe. Shop online here.
Now that I have begun my exploration of some of Oregon’s wineries that are committed to a more natural approach to winemaking, I can’t wait to continue my journey and welcome your comments below about favorites I should add to my list.
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