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.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby, trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
At Firs Bowl Lanes, brightly colored house bowling balls glide down 24 synthetic and wood lanes as automatic scoring systems prevent exaggeration-prone players from claiming to have bowled a 3,000. Anchoring the bowling center’s concourse, these lanes attract both league and open bowlers, who frequent special weekend events such as Friday Family Night and the neon-lit Kosmic Bowl. The center’s amenities include bumper lanes, a lottery, video games, and a diner-style snack bar where guests sit on low-slung barstools while enjoying food, beer, and other beverages.
Among the forests and hills of the Willamette Valley, Highway 58 Golf Range fills with the staccato pops of launching golf balls as golfers there practice every aspect of the game. Guests tee their range balls up year-round on either natural-grass tees or covered mats, sending the balls soaring toward Mount Pisgah in the distance. A short-game area allows for focused practice of near-green finesse, complete with a putting green, a chipping area, and a bunker where golfers perfect saves and practice guessing how many grains of sand are in a jar to win it.
Diamond Hill Paintball's two outdoor fields evoke historical battlegrounds for tournament-style and recreational play. A net encloses the regulation NPPL speedball course, whose symmetrical layout of inflatable bunkers is designed for intense competition. The rec-ball field's mounds and muddy foxholes help conceal casual players as they advance and protect feral canvases from the Technicolor volley. A unit of paintball veterans ensures safe, fun play at all levels, and distributes safety gear to accompany Tippmann 98 rental markers.
Sweet Cheeks Winery, composed of a 65-acre estate vineyard and 140 acres of sloping hills, churns out pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, and riesling. The Executive Wine Tasting gives guests the chance to fill their face pouches with up to 14 flights of Sweet Cheeks' full lineup, including all exclusive bottles not released to the general public. Like a blazing barrel of apples, the 2009 Reserve Pinot Gris smells of fruit and has a hint of smoke, while the 2009 Vintage Riesling gives off subtle undertones of honeysuckle paired with the sweet flavors of apricot and peach. The 2009 Rosy Cheeks is a cuvee of tempranillo, pinot noir, and pinot gris, all blended and fermented together until they sprout a beautiful bouquet of strawberries and tickle the tongue with flavory tingles. A cheese board of Oregon artisan cheeses, maple-herb roasted nuts, and crackers is provided to complement Sweet Cheeks' wine; guests may also bring their own picnic basket of goodies and iPods to complete the experience. Sample fine wines from the 7,000 sq. ft. patio that overlooks the vineyard and the gentle, sloping hillside leading down into Briggs Hill Valley.