November 2001 – Eugene, Oregon Travel Guide
It’s one of those days that makes you feel like you could live forever. The sky is blue, the sun is bright, and the air is just crisp enough to redden your cheeks. The leaves are shades of crimson and gold, and appear suggestive of a Norman Rockwell painting in the way that they cover the ground with such rustic grace. It’s one of those romantic autumn days that makes you want to put on your favorite wool sweater, take a walk along the countryside and experience the beauty of the season with a glass of smooth red wine. Indeed, it is a typical November day at the King Estate winery in western Oregon.
The King Estate, a family-owned business since 1992, prides itself on its familial ambience as well as its premium Northwest wine selection. Located just outside Eugene, this 820-acre estate provides a spectacular view of the mountainous and majestic landscape of the mid-Willamette Valley, including 250 acres of operative vineyard locale, elaborate winemaking equipment and a retail room where wines can be sampled and purchased by visitors.
According to Miles Johnson, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, the King Estate receives between 5,000-8,000 tourists each year, half of whom are Oregon residents, and half are from outside of the state.
A number of the people that visit the winery do so because they are familiar with the label and want to “put a face to the name,” said Johnson. However, there are certainly others who visit the Estate solely to experience the natural beauty of the region as well as to gain some insight on the production of winemaking itself. Professional wine educators and specialists often help guide tourists and strive to ensure their understanding of the intricate winemaking process.
The Estate offers wine sampling and tours every weekend from noon to 5 p.m., and/or by appointment during the winter months (Labor Day to Memorial Day). This is always a great time to visit. The gentle serenity of the land is well worth the visit during any season, but the fall is when the magic of winemaking really comes to life.
Late each October, as the last of the grapes are ever so carefully picked from the vines and the “crush” season, otherwise known as harvest, draws to an end, the wine-making process begins. The winery, which has a total production capacity of 400,000 gallons, is equipped with state-of-the art technology such as computer-controlled refrigeration systems as well as traditional underground aging barrel cellars. The grapes are pressed, pumped into fermentation tanks, tasted, bottled and aged for approximately 10 to 14 months until they are ready to be sold in stores and restaurants worldwide.
The King Estate regularly produces three richly distinct premium wines: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. For those who lack wine savoir-faire, Pinot Noir is a red wine whereas Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are both white wines. All of them however are products of Lorane Grapevines, Oregon’s largest producer of grafted grapevines cultivated by none other than King Estate. To accompany these meticulously crafted wines, King Estate has developed three distinguished cookbooks: King Estate Pinot Gris Cookbook, King Estate Pinot Noir Cookbook, and New American Cuisine. All three feature world-renowned chefs and cuisine to compliment their various wines.
At the end of every November during Thanksgiving weekend, the King Estate welcomes visitors to an open house, where they are invited to sample such cuisine as it accompanies the wines from their rich selection. During this time, older, vintage bottles that are usually not made available for sampling are brought out to savor as well. The festive holiday atmosphere and the smooth aged wines of King Estate never cease to add enjoyment to the season.
And although the panorama of the King Estate is awe-inspiring all year-round, it is absolutely breathtaking during the fall. Standing amidst the golden harvest, watching the sun set upon the valley below, a warm dessert wine in hand; it is bound to be a truly sweet November.
Contact info for King Estate winery:
Location: 80854 Territorial Road, outside Eugene ,
Phone: +1 (541) 942 9875
Web site: www.kingestate.com
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.