"Come get naked with us." It sounds like an indecent proposal, but it's really a call to action from Naked Winery?specifically a call to grab some of the cheeky winery's offerings. Its winemakers use grapes grown in both hot and dry climates and cool marine climates in Oregon and Washington to produce vintages such as Foreplay chardonnay and the sweet red Blazing Straddle.
The masterminds behind the winery, the Barringer and Michalec families, gave their creations such sassy names partly because of the wines' ability to seduce palates. But they also did it because they loved the idea of couples sipping a glass at night and sharing a laugh over the names and saucy descriptions on the label.
The accolades accorded several of LaVelle Vineyards' wines in the pages of Wine Enthusiast magazine serves as evidence of the diligent work of founder Doug LaVelle and his son, Matthew, who tends the vines today. After taking over the winery?then one of the oldest in Southern Willamette Valley?in 1994, Doug took it upon himself to make a number of improvements to its antiquated technology and distribution network. He started the wine club in 1995, and just recently opened a brand new wine bar and tap room off of International Way in Springfield called the LaVelle Tap Room. The tap room serves as an in-town location for wine club members, but also to provide a new wine-bar-meets-tap-room experience with more than 30 wines to choose from and several local beers on tap.
Doug's investments paid off. Today, with Matthew as lead winemaker, the winery ferments grapes both from its original Willamette Valley location and another site in the Columbia Valley in eastern Washington. At the rustic Elmira winery, visitors can recline on the sunny deck, tour the winemaking facilities, or outsmart tipsy minotaurs in the garden's labyrinth.
Looking to showcase local wines and bring the community together, the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce opened Wineries without Walls, a tasting room and wine shop highlighted in the Oregon Wine Press. Outfitted with a bar made from two wine barrels and a marble slab, the tasting room pours out libations from such wineries as J. Scott Cellars, Stanton Vineyard, and William Rose Wines. To ensure all bottles tasted, sold, or juggled by off-duty circus performers in the shop remain local, Wineries without Walls stipulates that each batch be crafted, the grapes grown, or the winery situated within 30-miles of Veneta.
Though Wineries without Walls offers limited store hours—Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m.—customers can still get a bang for their buck as vineyard owners host regular wine tastings there. The boutique shop also packs its shelves with an array of handmade confections, crafts, and wine accessories.
After an odyssey of trial and error in a humble brewing shack, University of Oregon students Simon Blatz, Chase Drum, and Simon Spencer moved their honey-mead brewery into a facility of its own in October 2011, where batches of the fermented honey spirit swirl in vats and bottles. The Blue Dog team lauds its mead, one of the oldest drinks in history, as “the original liquid sin,” touting its sweet start, dry finish, distinct honey smell, and propensity to commit mail fraud.
The golden elixir pours into recyclable bottles with reusable tops and logo modeling courtesy of the company’s furry mascot, Jake, a german shepherd. Blue Dog Mead invites guests to tastings (by appointment) and encourages its fans to vote online each month for a charity to receive 1% of the company’s proceeds; recent beneficiaries have included Movember and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lane County.