The corks will be popping in Seaside for the Spring Downtown Wine Walk on May 13, 2017, when the city transforms into an Oregon wine festival complete with tastings, hors d’oeuvres and live music. It’s a chance to sample bottles from more than 20 small wineries around the state, including Depoe Bay Winery, Nehalem Bay Winery and King’s Raven Winery — each with its own story and taste of place.
A family tradition
Many wineries participate year after year, such as Roseburg’s award-winning Girardet Vineyards, one of the oldest wine estates in Oregon.
“I guess you could say they were hippies trying to find themselves,” says second-generation winemaker Marc Girardet about his parents, Philippe and Bonnie. The couple was driving their Volkswagen bus through Oregon in 1970, when Philippe, a Swiss-born CalTech engineer, said the Umpqua Valley reminded him of home. They bought 54 acres and a year later, planted their first vines.
While his father is still in the tasting room every day, Marc has since taken over the family business. During the Wine Walk, you can sample some of his estate-grown vintages, each with its own story.
The 2015 Baco noir is a spicier, fuller-bodied red than a pinot noir. It’s made from grapes that originated in the French Bordeaux region. Marc’s parents were the first winemakers to bring Baco noir vines to Oregon.
After several years of making oaked chardonnays, Marc experimented with an unoaked variety in 2012, similar to the chardonnays that he’d tasted while traveling in France. That year, the vintage won a first place gold medal.
And perhaps the most personal of Marc’s wines, you can sample his 2013 “Touchdown Red.” Earlier that same year, the engine of his Cessna airplane had failed, forcing him to make an emergency landing on Interstate 5. The narrow escape inspired the name of the wine.
Save the date
Wine walk organizers will sell commemorative wine glasses, check IDs, and hand out maps at two locations inside the Carousel Mall from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The glasses are required and sold for $10 each; some of the wineries charge a small, additional tasting fee. The tasting begins at 3 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. The event also includes complimentary appetizers, music and a prize drawing.