The observation deck at Keeler Estate Vineyard.There is a place not too far where you can enjoy tastes of the holiday and avoid the stress: Willamette Valley’s annual Wine Country Thanksgiving. Numerous vineyards, some of which are closed to the public for much of the year, open their doors to offer tastes and treats over the Thanksgiving weekend. There are too many to visit them all in a few short days, so we narrowed our picks to wineries open year round that have established innovative land stewardship practices on the road to producing top wines.
The Carlton Winemakers Studio is a collection of more than 10 small-batch winemakers co-located in a single green-certified building. Built with recycled materials, the cooperative winemaking facility utilizes minimal electricity, eco-friendly methods and shared equipment. Individually and collaboratively the winemakers are creating a predictable future in sustainable grape growing and winemaking. Every winemaker takes a turn in the tasting room, and their wines are featured on a rotating basis, so you just might meet the winemaker while you’re busy sipping. The Co-op is open to the public so you can taste the handcrafted offerings in one beautiful space.
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Keeler Estate Vineyards, one of only a few organic wineries in Willamette Valley region, practices biodynamic winemaking in a stunning setting originally transformed from rocks and blackberry bushes. The winemaking by owners Craig and Gabriele Keeler is focused on varietals of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and fruity Pinot Gris. For Thanksgiving weekend, Keeler Estate Vineyards will be offering pre-holiday bottle discounts, wine flights, special food pairings and a selection of their farm-grown products to take home.
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Hidden in the hills and a perfect spot for special events, Maysara Winery has been devoted to “nature to nature” farming since the first plantings in 1997. No chemicals are used anywhere on the property. Rather, the application of their own compost and plant teas allow them to grow grapes in ecological harmony with the land. Maintaining strict biodynamic standards produces a roster of as many as 10 high-quality wines including a sparkling wine. All will be available for tasting during the Thanksgiving weekend, in addition to food and wine pairings.
Wine tasting outings these days are bringing a decidedly more personal and intimate experience. Gone are the days of standing at the bar while tasting room staff is focused merely on filling glasses. At Soter Vineyards this trend is on full display as guests just might be greeted by staff with a glass in hand. Grown at their Mineral Springs Ranch and North Valley properties, grapes are nurtured with the outcome in mind and point to a line-up of trendsetting varietals.
Youngberg Hill Vineyards and Inn, set on a hilltop of 50 acres with incomparable views of the Willamette Valley, has achieved LIVE sustainable certification for their sustainable, organic and biodynamic practices. Their winemaking is focused on producing the finest Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc aligned with the terroir of their location. Guests are encouraged to try new wines and cozy up by the fire to watch football with a bowl of homemade soup and a glass from their estate lineup. With a luxury bed and breakfast onsite you can even spend the night and do the whole thing over the next day.
Learn more about how wineries are constantly improving their environmental growing practices and try the latest vintages in beautiful surroundings. During Wine Country Thanksgiving, take a vacation from deciding whether your turkey is cooked or not. Go for the wine. Stay for the views.