Bella Organic Pumpkin Patch's 100 acres of picturesque rural farmland yield a cornucopia of produce, which its workers cheerily harvest and sell directly to Portland residents. Not content to keep customers well fed, the farm also draws families, music lovers, and food aficionados to its pastoral atmosphere with a plethora of seasonal activities. A series of harvest festivals fill the air with blues, rock, bluegrass, and country music and simultaneously sate the appetites of guests with food-cart fare, local microbrews, and wines from Bella's own organic winery, which include creations made from berry, cherry, rhubarb, as well as traditional grape wines. Sun-soaked youngsters can take refuge on cow and grain trains, relax on a hayride, or explore a petting zoo stocked with barnyard animals and friendly carpet samples.
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.
In the mild climes of the Willamette Valley, gentle slopes and low elevation nurture the 35 acres of wine grapes that produce Ankeny Vineyard's collection of pinot noir, pinot gris, and other signature wines. Vineyard owner Joe Olexa planted his first grapes in 1982, and with the help of winemaker Andy Thomas, the varietals have stood the test of time to become perennial award-winners at the Oregon State Fair and beyond. Visitors converse on the winery's patio over glasses of pinot noir and mélange blanc, surveying the scenic Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge and its droves of migratory waterfowl. An onsite outdoor, wood-burning pizza oven allows for wines to balance with the flavors of melted cheese on weekends during the summer months, which will have to suffice until cheese agrees to be bottled.
An estate house is surrounded by lush gardens, whose steps lead the way to a grass terrace that overlooks working vineyards and a gorgeous valley. Now, add locally made wine, picnics composed of organic fare, and live music. The call of, ?Mon Ami!? may be heard. But no, you have not suddenly turned into a French expat hanging out in Tuscany. This is Garden Vineyards, a family-run vineyard in Hillsboro. (Mon Ami is the family dog.)
Garden Vineyards serves as an afternoon destination for picnics, wine tastings, and festivals. The vineyards' estate house is also available to rent for a weekend getaway or an overnight or extended stay. Visitors who especially love the wine can become members of the wine club,which includes six bottles in the spring and six more in the fall. Visitors can also become members of the vineyards' community-supported agriculture program and receive produce straight from the gardens.
Some of the Current Wines
"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.