Oregon winemakers get creative and help the community at large during Coronavirus shutdowns

By now you’ve likely heard the tale of the Portland duo who met when a man poured his neighbor a glass of Ovum’s Big Salt an entire floor beneath him, out the window in NW Portland in April. There’s no shortage of acts of kindness among Oregon winemakers, too, as chronicled here in Wine Enthusiast in late March 2020, and more creative measures Oregon winemakers are taking in response to COVID here:

  • Portland’s Boedecker Cellars has launched a 2017 Pinot noir wine called Pandemic Relief, made from Willamette Valley-grown grapes and priced at $20.00. In stock at New Seasons, QFC, John’s Marketplace, Ostras Tapas & Bottle Shop in Ashland, and Eastside Liquor in Klamath Falls as well as Boedecker Cellars’ tasting room in Northwest Portland. 5%of all proceeds from the sale of this limited-release wine will be donated to Street Roots, Portland’s award-winning nonprofit newspaper.
  • Members of the Yamhill-Carlton winegrowing region have banded together to launch a collaborative program to support Yamhill Carlton Storehouse, a community food pantry serving families and individuals in need. More than thirty wineries  including Belle Pente, Big Table Farm, Elk Cove, and Lemelson Vineyards, among many others contributed their top Pinot Noir bottlings to create mixed cases showcasing the best of the region, now available for purchase on Yamhill-Carlton’s website.
  • Share the Bounty is an effort launched to support local hospitality workers and their families in Yamhill County. The program connects impacted hospitality workers with local restaurants who take turns cooking hearty meals. Each meal feeds up to four people and must be reserved in advance. Share the Bounty is a collaborative effort between the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association, the Yamhill Enrichment Society, Ruddick Wood, Earth & Sea, Red Hills Market and Lunabean Media.
  • Check presented to FISH Community Food Bank in the Gorge for $1,500 by Bob Morus, Phelps Creek Vineyards

    Bob Morus, OWB Chairman and founder of Phelps Creek Vineyards presented a $1,500 donation to FISH, the Hood River Community Food Bank. In April he drove from The Gorge to Woodinville, WA to deliver 42 cases of his wine to help with The Herbfarm’s Seattle Covid-19 healthcare worker dinners. The campaign to raise funds for dinners for hospital caregivers is here.

  • Domaine Serene launched a charitable initiative called ‘Pour it Forward’. The concept is that customers send a care package to a recipient and 10% of the proceeds go to one of four charities to assist with COVID-19 relief. Then that recipient may choose to pay the gift forward as well, and so on, with the grand prize (2-night accommodations for four at our estate in the Dundee Hills or in Santenay, Burgundy) going to whoever’s chain of giving raises the most for charity.
  • Lenne’ Estate: 40% of net profit for all wines purchased from April 8th through the end of the month goes to the local chapter of Meals on Wheels.
  • Solena is donating 30% of its wine sales to employees of Red Hills Market, which has closed for a few weeks to ensure safety to staff and do their part in helping maintain an income for displaced restaurant employees of Red Hills. Promo code REDHILLS for 10% too.
  • Domaine Roy et Fils has partnered with Oregon Food Bank to raise funds, and until April 30th, will donate $10 of every order to the organization and support our community in hopes that we #EmergeStronger.They’ve also put together a special six pack of Estate Pinot Noirs where $70 from each collection will be donated to the Oregon Food Bank. The wine collection ships directly to your door for just $1 using code WINE. Find out more here: Worden Hill Collection
  • The Stoller Wine Group of Dayton, Oregon, has joined forces with the Botanist House and Meals on Wheels People of Portland to help deliver meals to Oregon’s displaced restaurant and hospitality workers and elderly community in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. On March 18, The Botanist House announced they would offer free and reduced-cost meals to service industry professionals financially impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Meals can be picked up at a centralized location or delivered directly to a doorstep. Their efforts have quickly grown from seven meals on the first day to more than 200.
  • Walter Scott Wines Benefit Cases: donating 20% of total sales will be donated to selected organizations including Independant Restaurant CoalitionJosé Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, #ChefsForAmerica and The James Beard Foundation Food & Beverage Industry Relief Fund.
  • Yamhill Valley Vineyards donated fermented liquid to Divine Distillers in Salem who will be turning it into hand sanitizer.  They are giving it away, firstly to first responders all around the state of Oregon and then to people in need. They have given it to Tillamook, Molalla, Silverton, and several other cities and municipalities to their fire, police, and rescue. They have also given it to several large companies that have employees who go into other people’s homes and anyone else who needs it.
  • From WVV: “We are providing meals to our trade accounts employees who have been laid off or affected by restaurant closures for them and their families.”
  • Raptor Ridge: “One wine club member bought 2 cases of wine for his friends who are teachers and nurses, he said “they are going to need this!” Their wines were sent overnight”
  • Precept Wine is donating a portion of sales across all brands during this difficult time to the Northwest Harvest Food Bank
  • Antica Terra: “Next week, we are releasing a special offering, with the goal of supporting the restaurants that have supported us. We will be tracking the location of the purchasers, and then donating a percentage of proceeds back into that community… Our customers are the best human beings. We have felt an incredible outpouring of support. Some of our guests refused to let us refund their reservation fees, and insisted that we apply it to a future visit.”
  • Soter: “We are offering employees who are laid off continued full coverage of healthcare benefits. We are offering them hours in the winery and on the farm as much as possible. We are offering them a food stipend to spend at the MSR Marketplace to assist with food costs. We are allowing laid off team members to use any vacation time remaining before UI benefits kick in. Additionally, we are partnering with Meals on Wheels next week to do a menu takeover at their Vancouver Restaurant, the Diner, to assist with feeding vulnerable communities.”

Oregon wineries are hosting virtual tastings:

  • Brooks Wine launched Sips and Stories, a customizable virtual tasting with Janie and, often, Chris, ranging in topic, cost, audience size etc.  Link on site is here. Janie has conducted over 20 of these to date with 10 more in June/July.
  • Beaux Frères hosted a Virtual Open House Saturday May 23
  • Grochau Cellars has started weekly a virtual tasting series called John & Friends. Guest winemakers have included Matt Berson, Brianne Day, and Vincent Fritzsche. The week of May 4 he’s bringing in Thomas Houseman from Anne Amie Vineyards, and the following week Ian Burrows from Area Vintners, then Terry Sullivan from Upper Five Vineyards John is also releasing a new natural wine priced just north of $20 a bottle under a new brand, Etheric Wine Workshop.
  • Frank Morgan, author of DrinkWhatYouLike.com will moderate the discussion about the many expressions of Pinot Noir on Saturday, May 9 (4pm PT / 7pm ET) here with:
    – Janie Brooks, Brooks Wine, Oregon;
    – Theodora Lee, Theopolis Vineyards, California;
    – Jason Lett, Eyrie Vineyards, Oregon;
    – Christine Vrooman, Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Virginia
  • Flaneur Wines is offering Zoom tastings by delivering wines to your door, along with empty sample bottles for you to divvy up and deliver to your friends. Each sample bottle can accommodate a generous sample of wine. Upon purchasing the sample pack we will reach out to schedule your experience, and one of our team members will host a one-hour, private tasting via Zoom. After the tasting any purchase of six bottles or more will ship free.
  • Lenne’: Starting Saturday April 11th at 5:15 pm PT winemaker/owner Steve Lutz and hospitality manager Eric Bruce will host a virtual tasting on Instagram Live via our Lenne Estate account. You can follow us by clicking the link above.  We’ll be tasting and answering your questions live. Anyone can view the presentation and send us comments or questions during the chat. We have created 3 different 6 packs for members and non-members alike. All members will receive an extra 5% on top of your normal discount and free shipping on anything over 6 bottles. Non-members will receive free shipping on anything over 6 bottles.
  • From Cathedral Ridge: “We’re offering our Wine Club Members a complimentary 60-90 minute virtual tasting of one/more of their recent WC shipments or a new order.  We’ll email in advance wine notes, vineyard videos and/or descriptions, wine specific recipe ideas and tasting suggestions.    For non WC members, the cost will be a $100 order…. We’ve had very strong success with the virtual tours – roughly 30% of our web visitors take at least 1 tour.”
  • Seufert Winery: We hosted our first virtual tasting, the response was very emotional and overwhelming for us. We received emails, personal texts and social media messages thanking us for offering a form of escapism. We were trying to convey a moment of connection and authenticity and it resonated, greatly. Seufert Winery Virtual Tasting – Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, Willamette Vally AVA 2013
  • Raid your Cellar Experience from Ken Wright CellarsAlready have some KWC wine in the cellar? Pick out the bottle or bottles that you would like to open and schedule a face-to-face Zoom session with one of our team members. We will be able to provide you with more in-depth information on the vintage, vineyard, and our farming and wine making philosophies regarding your wine. Book a virtual tasting appointment online through our Events page or by emailing orders@kenwrightcellars.com. Virtual tasting experiences have been a long time coming and for many smaller family owned wineries, like KWC, we have been forced to accelerate these programs and trends with the current state of the country.”

    Ponzi Vineyards

  • Ponzi Vineyards: “We will be asking followers to join us on Instagram Live every Wednesday throughout April as Anna Maria Ponzi pours a glass of Ponzi wine and hosts a virtual Wine Wednesday at the Winery. Taste a select Ponzi wine each week from the comfort of your home and explore it through they eyes of an Original Oregon wine growing family.”
  • Eola Hills Winery: “We will be working with our winemaker to live stream special flights or new releases and plan to take our social media followers on a virtual vineyard walk through our “wiking” trail that we hope they will soon be able to enjoy with glass in hand.”
  • Raptor Ridge Winery produces vineyard-designated wines from most of the Willamette Valley’s sub AVAs and the team is rolling out a series of virtual tastings focused on each of the AVA’s from which they produce wines:  Chehalem Mountains, Yamhill-Carlton, McMinnville, and Eola-Amity Hills. They now have three packs of wines from each of these AVA‘s available to purchase online.
  • Domaine Roy et Fils: Every Wednesdays at 4:30 PST the team hosts an Instagram live virtual tasting. Last week, winemaker Jared Etzel tasted through its Spring Collection.

Oregon wineries are enhancing connections with club members, wine drinkers, and changing the dialogue:

  • Janie Brooks, managing director at Brooks Wine, is writing once a week to 18,000 people on their mailing list.The approach is personable, heartfelt with goals of brand and relationship building versus direct sales. At the conclusion of each is her email and cell.  She spends hours on the weekends responding to people who reach out. Open rates range from 30-40%. These emails can be found here.
  • Oregon wine drinkers will be rewarded with Oregon Vine Perks, a new loyalty program launched by the Oregon Wine Board during Oregon [Inside] Wine Month. The Oregon Vine Perks program is simple; spend $250 or more on Oregon wine between May 1 and July 1, 2020, upload your receipts here, and you’ll receive an Oregon Vine Perks Pass in the mail. The pass will unlock two-for-one tastings, discounts and VIP benefits at participating wineries across the state once they reopen, and will be valid through April 30, 2021.
  • With Oregon tasting rooms closed right now, Yamhill-Carlton AVA has created a new section of the AVA website to feature wineries offering curbside pick-ups and shipping specials: https://yamhillcarlton.org/curbside-pickup/
  • “Doost” is the Farsi word for “friend,” and as the COVID-19 outbreak unfolded, Maysara noticed that the impact was not solely limited to the local Oregon wine industry but experienced by friends in wine industries in all corners of the U.S. They’ve partnered up with five other wineries to create Doost Community Package, a collection of twelve wines from: Gruet Winery, Hedges Family Estate, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Maysara Winery, Smith Devereux Wines, Stoller Family Estate.
  • Copa Di Vino of The Dalles is now bringing the tasting room to living rooms with home wine tasting kits. Each $10 kit will include 2-ounce pours of 5 different varietals.
  • Flaneur Wines: Showcasing a variety of AVAs, vineyard sites, and winemaking styles, we chose to collaborate with three wineries that we love: EIEIO, Bethel Heights and Eyrie. On top of putting together this collective case of wines, the winemakers will be putting on two Zoom tasting sessions,  giving you the opportunity to pop open a couple of bottles, taste along, and ask questions.
  • Tasting rooms are calling and emailing their members. Dobbes Family Estate says: “Because human connection is so important right now, we have our full-time tasting room staff reaching out to our consumers over the phone and via email.”
  • Raptor Ridge Winery reports: “Our membership and events manager, socially distanced and working from home, has been personally calling all of our existing wine club members (Because we are Raptor Ridge we call them Flight Club members – – note the L in Flight Club), checking in on them, offering locals personalized delivery or pick up by appointment.”
  • Stoller Wine Group is launching its own channel, “which will be a collection of short videos and social meet-ups that allow our valued guests a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking and vineyard process, taste virtually with our winemakers and tasting room team, learn how to cook at home with our culinary director Becca Richards and our vice president of winemaking Melissa Burr, hiking with our dogs in nature, and of course doing virtual tastings/meet-ups for newly released wines. Everyone has a work-life balance, and we want to share those stories.  Even when we get past this virus and can feel comfortable in a traditional tasting again, people want an experience.”
  • Donna at Winderlea: “We’ve been actively working to make those in the hospitality industry aware of openings that wineries may have with things such as bottling or part time/full time jobs in other industries. For example, I sent a notice to this group that Amazon is hiring 100,000 people to help with deliveries right now. Bill and I hosted a little industry forum (restaurants, inns and limo drivers) at our home last week to discuss what we could do to help each other during the next couple of months. With that, we’ve maintained an active dialog of ideas, leads, legal and regulatory updates to best assist each other.”
  • Eola Hills Winery: “Nothing beats being able to talk and connect with someone face-to-face. However, I think it is pushing our industry to adapt to new ways of working, which can only make us better at reaching more audiences to share our story and wine with.”

    Left Coast Vineyards, spring

  • Hannah at Antica Terra: “We see our business not only adjusting but expanding to a broader understanding of how we engage and deepen our relationships with our audience. If we are to be honest, we should have been operating this way already. Our whole business depends on intimacy. It’s how we make our wine, it’s how we work with our team, it’s how we treat and talk to our guests…it’s everything. Taking the conversation online represents a much more direct, immediate way to build that intimacy, not only with the people who have taken the time to come and see us in the tasting room, but people who might never have made it to Dundee at all. We decided pretty quickly that we weren’t going to recreate the tasting experience, that we were going to reimagine what we had to offer and what we wanted to share. There is infinite space when you take away the boundaries of geography. There is a grand opportunity for us to share all of the enlivened thought and discussion that has happened behind closed doors, to wrap in our incredible talented friends, colleagues, and inspirations. It’s going to look really different from here on out…and we think that’s a good thing.”
  • Anne at Domaine Serene: “As with most wineries, we are heavily based on face-to-face visits to our Clubhouse and Lounges. Fortunately, we do have a thriving distribution side of our business as well, and a great team nationally supporting us.”
  • Seufert Winery: We are offering complimentary shipping on six bottles or more, we are including recipes and hand-written notes thanking them for their support.

Oregon wineries are combining their outreach efforts with food:

  • Brooks Wine executed curbside food and wine service including Pizza Fridays every week through shutdown to provide food options to the community. Also created a menu to limit the need for servers to be at table for long periods of time discussing wines and food. Donated all produce grown in the Brooks garden not used in the kitchen to staff.
  • Domaine Serene will be on site at three different hospital locations in Portland April 23-25 to donate gourmet pizza for hungry and overworked first responders to show gratitude for their efforts in the fight against COVID-19. The mobile pizza oven makes up to seventy-five individual pizzas an hour.
  • Alloro Vineyard: Wine & Produce Packs delivered to your door. As part of our Community Supported Agriculture program, we’ve partnered with our friends at Pacific Coast Fruit to offer a selection of fresh produce paired with Alloro wines.  Each pack includes 3 Alloro Estate wines a produce box with 18-20 pounds of various fruits and vegetables with items changing weekly. Produce Packs include complimentary local delivery (Portland Metro, Northern Willamette Valley, and Salem) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Click HERE to reserve your Wine & Produce Pack today.
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards: “Wine & Food Pick-Up & Curbside. Also our winery Chef has created some recipes with ingredients commonly found in everyone’s pantry that we will be sending out with recommended wine pairings. Our Estate Tasting Room and winery kitchen are open daily 11 am – 6 pm for wine and food pick-up orders to go, including curbside assistance when requested. Enjoy the Mid-Valley’s favorite burger paired with our Whole Cluster Pinot noir while supporting Wheels on Meals. We will donate $3 for every burger sold to assist with the well-being of seniors and disabled adults in Salem and Keizer during this challenging time.”
  • Dobbes Family Estate is hosting virtual tastings with Tasting Room Manager and Andy, as well as content that our employees are putting together from their homes. Content so far has been around cooking and wine-tasting, but we’re planning a lot more virtual events in the future.
  • Solèna Estate and Hyland Estates are partnering with Carlton Farms “to help provide those in our community with food and wine during these trying times. Since we’re not able to host you in our tasting rooms, we would love to offer and deliver a special package of meat and wine while raising money for Oregon Food Bank and will be donating 10% of all purchases to the Oregon Food Bank. Wine orders of 12 bottles or more will receive a discount of 25%. Customers have the option to forgo the discount and we will donate the additional savings to the Oregon Food Bank. There is no minimum wine purchase. If customers only want to buy meat, we are still here for you.  The deliveries will go out in a refrigerated van.  We are rolling this out in Yamhill County now and we hope to expand the reach soon.”

Soter by Carolyn Wells Kramer

Julia at Soter Vineyards and Mineral Springs Ranch: “We are excited to introduce the MSR Marketplace, a local delivery or pick-up grocery service. Local guests can stock up their pantries and fridges with delicious foods from our culinary team, like MSR pork sausages and skillet corn bread, or kitchen basics like organic flour, cheeses, and jam. This is a way we can keep our Chef and Sous Chef employed at the moment.”

Oregon wineries are using this time to build, clean, learn, catch up on wine shipments:

  • Tumwater Vinyeard: “We have created a special discount to help sales, club members get their case discounts on 6 bottles or more and nonmembers receive a 15% discount on 4 bottles or more. We are delivering for free in the PDX metro area.  We are also dropping off old wine shipments as well so they can enjoy at home.”
  • Paul O’Brien Winery in the Umpqua Valley: “We have committed to our winery and tasting room employees to keep them employed through this difficult time. We are doing a lot of spring cleaning around the winery as well as some cross training. We have tasting room employees who always wanted to learn how to drive forklift so they can offload deliveries when cellar staff is not around. This has also been a great time to have tasting room staff help out in the vineyard.”
  • Antica Terra: We are planting gardens and building chicken coops. We are articulating plans for our future, and making a roadmap to bring it to life.
  • Carlton Cellars: “Our hours available are way down but we are keeping them engaged and busy. Shipments are up, virtual tastings to be filmed as well as other ‘catch-up’ work are being provided to keep employees busy in this slow time.”

Oregon wineries are offering free delivery, creative pricing:

  • SchöneTal Cellars: Home delivery is offered if located in the Portland Metropolitan and North Willamette Valley Area.
  • Through  www.citationwine.com , winemakers are offering free UPS ground shipping within the US for all orders of 3 bottles or more (mix and match).  Promo code is: SFO2020
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards: “Our shipping department is busier than the last day to ship before the holidays. we’ve been able to transition tasting room associates that would be without full hours to support this part of the company as well as the new pick-up and delivery options. we’ve been able to keep our kitchen team on by providing food orders to-go.”
  • Ponzi Vineyards is offering Same Day Local Delivery service on Tuesdays and Thursdays on purchases of 6 bottles or more for those within a 30-mile radius of the winery. Orders must be provided by 11am and deliveries will occur between 1pm and 5pm.
  • Creative package pricing from Domaine Divio:

The Stay at Home Selection
1 x 2018 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
1 x 2018 Eola Amity Pinot Noir
1 x 2018 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir
Regular price $144, Sale price $100, Savings of $44

The Spring Break Staycation Deal
2 x 2018 Willamette Valley Chardonnay
1 x 2019 Willamette Valley Rose
Regular price $128, Sale Price $100, Savings of $28

Shipping included in the USA of 6 bottles or more.

Allison Fields, Winderlea

  • Winderlea has launched ‘“Winderlea At Your Door” with a special weeknight 6 pack special for $169 (shipping/delivery included). And, as an added benefit we’re including one of our favorite Salmon recipes to the box for the perfect pairing with the wines in the shipment.”

Oregon wineries are encouraging wellness:

  • Annie Shull, cofounder of Raptor Ridge Winery is hosting an 8-week online mindfulness class on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a course that helps participants access and strengthen their own inner resources to actively engage in caring for themselves and find greater balance, ease, and peace of mind.
  • Willful Wine Company: “Partnering with on online community of YOGIS and holding VINO & Vinyasa events online via ZOOM. Yoga first then use our wines to hold discussion, build communication and empathy. Mindfulness meditation and education through wine. Slowing down to notice and discuss what is in the glass is a form of practicing mindfulness.”
  • At Home with Left Coast “will profile the lives and times of core members of the Left Coast Family. In the coming weeks, others will contribute to this.  This is a time for continuing to building community and connectedness. This, I feel, we all need,” said Suzanne Larsen, owner.