Sip the summer away at these mid-Willamette Valley wineries

By Published On: August 4, 2022

Joanna Mann, Albany Democrat-Herald, Ore. (MCT)

Temperatures in the mid-Willamette Valley have soared into the high 90s the past couple of days, but luckily these four wineries in Linn and Benton counties have something cool and refreshing for locals.

Springbank Farm, Olsen Run Winery, Lumos Wine Co. and Benton-Lane Winery are vastly different wineries that offer unique summer experiences for sommeliers and wine amateurs alike.

Springbank Farm

Teens often get their first summer job at a movie theater, summer camp or fast food joint. But for more than 70 lucky teenagers in the Lebanon area, they get to spend July and August picking and sorting fresh plump blueberries at Springbank Farm.

The farm, at 32208 Berlin Road in Lebanon, is a year-round blueberry farm with blueberry wine available in summertime. Farm owners Brian and Michelle O’Driscoll had their first blueberry harvest in 2009 and have been supplying the sweet berries ever since.

“In my heart of hearts, I knew blueberries were something kid-friendly,” Brian O’Driscoll said. “They’re something you can eat and be excited about. Plus they’re super healthy antioxidants.”

The O’Driscolls’ 13-year-old daughters, Inez and Lucy, are also helping out on the farm this year alongside the rest of the teenagers, prepping orders and picking, sorting, washing and weighing the berries.

“The success is measured by what the kids get out of it,” Brian O’Driscoll said.

The kids work three or four days a week, chatting with each other in the 12-acre organic blueberry patch about music and TV shows. A noisy field is a good sign that the teens are making friends, the O’Driscolls said.

Brain O’Driscoll used to be a winemaker and came up with the blueberry wine recipe himself. Many fruit wines can taste too sweet, he said, but this one is clean, light and easy to drink. He called it a “gateway wine,” emphasizing that even people who do not typically drink wine enjoy it.

The O’Driscolls said the wine pairs well with Thai, barbeque and curries.

Bottles of wine are available for purchase at www.springbankfarm.com for $20 each or four for $60.

Olsen Run Winery

Located right off Exit 209 on I-5 in Harrisburg, Olsen Run Winery is not your run-of-the-mill tasting room.

The family-owned winery is one of the only places in the mid-Willamette Valley where Teslas, semis and pick-up trucks gather in the same parking lot, driving up to the food cart for a cheeseburger and then staying for a while to sip on a raspberry rosé wine slushy.

“We wanted to do something weird, funky and fun,” said Joe Sinclitico, who co-owns the winery with his wife Rachel Sinclitico, brother-in-law Jack Olsen and father-in-law Jamie Olsen. “Farmers and truckers come, in and they’re all hanging out drinking wine, and it creates a wild environment.”

The owners put several Tesla superchargers in the parking lot so people could have an unexpected wine tasting while waiting for their car to juice up.

Joe and Rachel Sinclitico were going about their lives in Los Angeles as a comedian and actress/model, respectively, when news of COVID-19 began to spread. Joe Sinclitico said he had a bad feeling about the coronavirus, and the couple packed up their things and moved to Oregon just before the lockdown.

Olsen Run Winery opened in the middle of the pandemic and has since become a popular stop for people traveling on I-5.

There are events every Saturday in the summer, including comedy nights, dueling pianos and concerts. While zooming by on I-5 just a couple hundred feet away, drivers look over their shoulders to see more than 200 people dancing through the parking lot in a conga line.

Olsen Run Winery offers all Oregon wines — four whites and five reds. While the pinot noir is an Oregon favorite, the sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, malbec, viognier and red blend are crowd pleasers as well.

More information about the wines can be found at www.olsenrun.com.

Lumos Wine Co.

Magic is in the air at Lumos Wine Co. in Philomath. Fans of Harry Potter will instantly be drawn to the winery thanks to the name “Lumos,” a reference to the charm that lights a wand in the fantasy series.

“There’s a little bit of magic in that bottle,” owner PK McCoy said. “We raised our kids as readers and read Harry Potter to them. We wanted to credit that and J.K. Rowling for inspiring a generation of young readers.”

The 78-acre property is bordered by the Marys River and features stunning views of Marys Peak on a clear day. Lavender fields surround the grapes and a cozy cabin on the property make for a great place to spend the night.

The property was formerly a dude ranch but is now a vineyard and winery. PK’s husband and co-owner Dai Crisp was a farmer, and his parents bought the property in the early to mid-1970s.

The vineyard was planted in the 1980s, and the winery opened in 2000. McCoy said she didn’t have a background in farming or wineries, but she was glad to join the team.

Lumos offers a variety of wines including pinot gris, chardonnay, rosé, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.

The rosé, known as “Chiquita Rosé,” is named after the couple’s daughter Chiquita Rose.

It’s a family affair at Lumos, and the attention to detail is seen throughout the whole wine-making process.

“It’s rare to have that level of control from beginning to the end of the process,” McCoy said.

Throughout the summer, community members can enjoy the occasional concert, tasting and even a wedding. A stay in the cabin on the property offers breathtaking views. The setting is what makes Lumos unique, according to McCoy.

For more information, visit www.lumoswine.com.

Benton-Lane Winery

Nestled in the small town of Monroe, Benton-Lane Winery is a major player in the mid-Willamette Valley wine industry.

The 318-acre property is filled with grapes, unmatched views and a classy outdoor space to enjoy a glass of wine.

General Manager Gretchen Boock said Benton-Lane is the biggest producer and vineyard in the area.

Boock said the vineyard offers a lot of variation thanks to the geographic benefits of the area, the way the sun hits the plants, the elevation and more.

“This property has everything you need to grow world class pinot noir,” she said.

The winery offers a chardonnay, a pinot gris, a rosé and two types of pinot noirs.

There are 130 acres of pinot noir and 10 acres of chardonnay planted on the massive property.

There have been big changes at the winery in recent years. In 2018, a California company bought the winery and brought Boock in to manage it. Thankfully Boock has been in the wine industry essentially her whole professional life.

“We’re still trying news things,” Boock said. “We’re rolling out different events for the public.”

This summer, a popular event at the winery is pinot and pizza which as the name suggests, offers wine and pizza. The next pinot and pizza event is scheduled for July 30.

The tasting room was closed for two years, but has since been remodeled. Although Benton-Lane doesn’t offer the most varieties of wine, the winery continues to be a large producer.

“We’re very focused because we want to do a few things and do them well,” Boock said.

For information on upcoming events and more, visit www.benton-lane.com.

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