It’s an argument as old as time, would you rather live in the city or the country. What is your favorite vacation destination, a big city or open countryside? Well, it’s the same with wineries and wine tasting. Some wineries have created wonderful country oases where you can go for both the wine and the view and others are right in the city, where you can quickly and easily stop in for a glass of wine and a chat with the wine maker in an urban or industrial setting.
More and more, we are finding communities of tasting rooms like Walla Walla, Washington, Healdsburg, California and McMinnville Oregon. These communities are coming to life because of wine and there is nothing, NOT A SINGLE THING, wrong with that. On a beautiful summer day a few years ago, we strolled through the streets of Walla Walla and drank amazing wine and met fascinating people. The very next day, we got in our car and visited several beautiful winery estates where we had a very different experience. That is the best of both worlds.
Here in Eugene, we are lucky enough to have tasting rooms both in town and “in the country.” (When I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia, my mother regularly suggested to my father that we go for a family drive in the country. My dad wasn’t having any part of it!) On a lovely summer evening you can stop in at J. Scott Cellars, a tasting room in the industrial part of town that has a concrete floor, barrels to the roof, and steel rafters. It is a surprisingly inviting space with twinkle lights and soft music. I think it’s the contrast of the industrial environment and the warm inviting ambiance that makes it one of our favorite places.
From there you can walk across the parking lot to Noble Estates tasting room. This space is a bit more rustic with a rich dark wood tasting bar and lower ceilings, it feels truly like a tasting room and not a wine making site. What’s great about that is that Noble Estate has a beautiful tasting room on the beach in Newport OR and on its wine growing property just outside of town. On our first visit there, years ago, we tasted in the pool cabana converted to a tasting room. Those days are gone, there’s a beautiful tasting room.
Another great urban spot is the LaVelle Tasting Room in Springfield. Winemaker Matt LaVelle explains that the tasting room in town is a great option for a quiet Friday evening or for Wine Club pick ups. During the winter there is live music and a full menu every Friday night. During the warmer
evenings, they move the weekend events out to the vineyard, the best of both worlds!
Last year we participated in the Urban Wine Walk here in Eugene, lots of folks walking around town with matching stemless wine glasses. The Wine Walk included five or six urban tasting rooms, all featuring food, wine and conversation, some had live music as well.
Whether you’re an urban dweller or a country lover, there is a wine tasting experience just right for you. What’s your preference? Do you get the same feeling and experience in an urban setting as when you go for that drive in the country?