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.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA), the University of Oregon's premier art museum, tunes uninspired brain waves to fine-art frequencies with its extensive collection of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and American art. With more than 13,000 objects in its permanent collection, the JSMA allows museum visitors to delve deeply into past and present cultures from around the world. Museum members can sink sight buds into traveling exhibitions, such as Giuseppe Vasi's Rome: Lasting Impressions from the Age of the Grand Tour, which focuses on the 18th century Italian printmaker and his prophetic paintings of R&B group Boys II Men. Members can also partake in one of JSMA's educational programs. In addition to the free admission, museum members get the following benefits:
Valley Vintner & Brewer supplies budding and experienced home brewers all the equipment and recipes needed to concoct tasty batches of beer and wine from the comfort of their kitchens. Each home brewery basic starter kit contains fermenting necessities along with The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, an instructional tome chronicling beer’s mighty rise to prominence as America’s go-to shower beverage of choice. Your experienced vintner instructor will guide guests through a three-hour home-brewing class, answering all grain-related queries from, "How are hops grown?" to "Can I still drink my beer if it develops human emotions?" With gear and guidance from Valley Vintner's expert ale aficionados, beginner beverage barons can raise their glass-fulls from bottle-dependent infancy to full-flavored adulthood.
Nestled in verdant rolling hills, Silvan Ridge Winery complements its grapey varietals with a menu of easily chewable eats. Gourmet cheese plates tickle tongues with a variety of aromatic curds from Spring Valley Dairy in nearby Keizer—including dill havarti, smoked gouda, and brie ($7)—and 8-inch wood-fired pizzas ($6.50–$7.50) and crispy caesar side salads ($4.50) carry hunger away as swiftly as hungry warriors plundering an empty pantry. An outdoor patio and surrounding grassy slopes afford picnickers eyefuls of grapevine-laced hills; inside, the fireside room gives couples an excuse to cozy up next to a wood-burning blaze and share a creamy wedge of cheesecake for two ($4). Complimentary wine tastings greet all visitors of legal age.
Hooked for Life Guide Service’s founder and head guide, Jarrod Kelso, caught his first fish at the age of 4 and has adored the sport ever since. As a native Oregonian, Jarrod has developed an intimate understanding of the state’s waters. He puts that knowledge to work during guided trips, some of which track down salmon and steelhead, others of which chase mammoth redband and brown trout up to 15 pounds in size. Jarrod leads fellow anglers into Oregon’s waters aboard his new Willie custom drift boat.
Snuggled up next to the gorgeous Yaquina Bay, Oregon Coast Aquarium showcases the intricate sea life found on the Pacific Coast. Visitors can peer into the personal lives of outgoing ocean dwellers in the Passages of the Deep, which guides guests through the underwater ecosystems of the state's coast. Disciples of the sea can chat about the Wall Street Journal ’s recent article about the ink market with the giant Pacific octopus or watch public feedings of the largest sea otter community in the state—featuring the antics of the cheeky charmer northern otter Mojo. Merry mariners can swap shanties with the sleek and vocal sea lions or harbor seals, and touchy tourists can acquaint themselves with tide-pool residents in the Rocky Shores touch pool.