Extracurricular Wine country
By YVVG STAFF
As the heart of Oregon Wine Country has developed into one of the best wine regions in the world, wineries and tasting rooms have ensured visitors have plenty to do while sipping vino.
There are hundreds of tasting rooms in the Yamhill Valley where you can “belly up the bar.” There’s also a growing list of activities that pair well with the wine tasting experience.
“Just look at the event listings on websites, ask your favorite producer what they would recommend,” says Taylor Theis, wine club and events manager for Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston, adding that whatever experiences you seek, there’s a good chance wine country has it on the menu.
There’s everyday happenings like playing bocce on one of the many courts in the Valley, or board games (even retro video games) featured in some tasting rooms. Yoga, paint nights, dance classes and a variety of live music are frequently scheduled near vineyards or in downtown venues. And special events, once an occasional occurrence in wine country, come in all shapes, sizes and interests.
“It’s stepping up the game,” says Leah McGlade, director of consumer sales and marketing at Elizabeth Chambers Cellar in McMinnville. “There are so many wineries in the Valley, so you’re going to do all that you can to attract great customers.”
Elizabeth Chambers is one of many whose space is great for accommodating live music. The winery offers a new act each Friday, inside the winery or on the patio when the weather permits.
McGlade says winery events traditionally were created around member gatherings. But now many wine companies have a staff person dedicated to craft of social gatherings.
Specialty food-centric events are a natural fit, given the quantity of renowned chefs and small farms in the Valley.
Theis says they utilized their national sales team to bring ideas from other markets.
“There were all these things that the national sales team were experiencing and we thought, ‘Why aren’t we doing these things at the winery,” she said. Most Elk Cove events highlight the work of their on-site chef, but there is a variety still, including hikes, opera in the vineyard and, new this year, a dance performance with Portland-based BodyVox.
“Any opportunity for people to bring a blanket and post up with some wine, we love those,” Theis said.