Wine Travel Goes Green
From Cooper Mountain Vineyards to King Estate, Oregon's biodynamic wineries are becoming go-to destinations.
California may come to mind when you think of the ultimate wine-and-food haven, but these days Oregon is fast becoming a go-to destination by offering unique tours of biodynamic wineries and organic farms.
According to the Oregon Wine Board, nearly 9% of Oregon’s vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic, with many high-quality producers, such as The Eyrie Vineyards and Beaux Frères, farming organically (though often without the stamp). In fact, 14 wineries, including Cooper Mountain Vineyards and King Estate, completed Governor Kulongoski’s rigorous Carbon Neutral Challenge last April—the largest coalition of U.S. wineries to undertake such an effort. Their plans are to make the CNC “Climate Pioneers” certification program in 2011.
“It’s about taking care of the planet and doing the right thing for future generations,” says second generation vintner Alison Sokol Blosser, of Sokol Blosser winery in the Dundee Hill. She spearheads tours of the solar panel-lined organic and LEED-certified winery—the first in the U.S. Tourists pile into all-terrain vehicles that run on 50% biodiesel fuel to view the eco-friendly systems because Blosser claims, “It’s a fun way to educate the public.”
At Cooper Mountain, VP of Operations Barbara Gross concurs that the tours aim to teach visitors about sustainable practices and the differences between organic and biodynamic farming. Though she says she’s confident about pushing the message, she also knows that “communicating it will take some time."
Extra, Extra Activites
After visiting the organic wineries of Oregon, consider packing your schedule with recreational activities, siteseeing and dining. If you opt to stay in downtown Portland, the dining options include James Beard Northwest honorees Le Pigeon, Paley’s Place, Pok Pok and Nostrana. There’s also an intoxicating street food scene located on Alder Street, between 9th and 11th.
If you prefer the more laid-back, outdoorsy vibe, it’s best to cruise south on Highway 5 from Portland, or fly directly into Eugene, the “Emerald City,” which regularly hosts the U.S. Olympic Trials and NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. If you’d rather run than watch track, there are four miles of soft bark trails at the nearby Alton Baker Park, which connects to 12 more miles of dedicated pedestrian and biking trails along the Willamette River. There are also more than 100 miles of bike-friendly streets and paths in Eugene, with rentals widely available at local shops and hotels.
Eugene’s food scene is more casual than that of Portland. There’s a farmer's market in the heart of downtown, on 8th and Oak, and the annual Oregon Truffle Festival, taking place on January 28–30, is worth a visit. Dining options include the three-star, green-certified Adam’s Sustainable Table, the upscale Marché Provisions, The Rabbit, Bistro & Bar, Café Soriah and Osteria Sfizio.
The Restaurant and Wine Bar at King Estate, is a 300-seat space with a menu that incorporates estate and locally-grown ingredients in dishes created by Chef Michael Landsberg.