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.
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.
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.