Winery opens center to cater to needs of visiting aficionados
By JO MCINTYRE
For the Capital Press
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Turner-based Willamette Valley Vineyards is reaching out to patrons with a wine center in the heart of Yamhill County.
The company's latest project, a wine center located in downtown McMinnville, has been a success right out of the starting gate, with an estimated 460 visitors in the first week.
"We wanted to find a way to give a value-added experience," said Meg Murray, the center's director.
The center displays soil samples, maps of American Viticultural Areas in the Willamette Valley, offers comparative wine tastings every month, helps visitors schedule winery tours and finds places for them to dine and stay overnight.
Willamette Valley Vineyards CEO and founder Jim Bernau calls the center a concierge service. He said he wants to strengthen public awareness of the Willamette Valley AVA and demonstrate the values and brand embodied in the area's wineries.
"As a native Oregonian, I champion our state's many natural beauties, arranging fishing, hiking, birding, biking" expeditions, he said in an email.
When the McMinnville location turned up, Bernau assigned Murray, his "Wine Goddess," to lead the project.
"The Wine Center looks forward to spreading the gospel of Oregon Pinot Noir, (and) the history of our collaborative and innovative industry, along with the sustainable practices we have put in place," he said.
McMinnville is in the middle of Yamhill County, which has 232 vineyards, almost 30 percent of all vineyards in Oregon. The county has almost a third of vineyard acreage in the state and almost 40 percent of the wineries in the state.
The Willamette Valley Vineyards Wine Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Willamette Valley Vineyards: www.willamettevalleyvineyards.com