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What Is The Elkton AVA

or, Please Pass The Wine.

 Inside Arlene's

From Inside Arlene’s

The AVA, or American Viticulture Area, found a new home in Elkton.

Regional wine makers have a new hook to hang their brand on.

Once you win the badge of approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, more doors open.

How long before you hear someone in an expensive restaurant say, “I’ve been dying to try the intriguing new Pinot from Elkton, Oregon?”

NW Boomer says sooner than later. And here’s why:

Ken Thomason began planting grapes near the Elkton Elk’s football field in 1972.

Baby boomers from Coos Bay and North Bend traveled past the vineyards every time their high schools played games in Eugene in the 60’s and 70’s. Which was often.

In 1972 the North Bend Bulldogs and Marshfield Pirates were the only designated ‘big schools’ on the coast. After playing each other, the only other competition came from schools in the Willamette Valley.

On the scale of high culture, the two coast cities were the Big Time.

Reedsport, Scottsburg, Elkton, and Drain felt like the Midwest described as fly-over country by the NY to LA crowd.

It was drive-through country, except for one stop.

Arlene’s had the best Logger Burger and milkshakes anyone had ever tasted. They were that good. Then it burned down.

A new Arlene’s grew from the ashes, and on a recent stop the Logger Burger passed the great burger test.

Will the new AVA make Elkton wine better than others? If Arlene’s is any measure, yes.

Doubters might say, “All the good wine comes from grapes in the northern Willamette Valley.” And they’d be wrong.

Early grape ranchers made their mark, won their prizes, and grew. The same will happen to Elkton.

Take microbrew beer as an example. Once upon a time Olympia Beer was good enough for everyone. If the beer drinkers among us needed a change they opened a Blitz or a national brand.

Then someone decided on an even bigger change and Red Hook showed up along with Grants. The rest is history.

How many tiny breweries can one state hold? More than you can count.

Enterprise Oregon has a brew pub called Terminal Gravity. They make and sell great beers, though not too many varieties. They know what they’re good at and stick to it.

One of their brewers decided to change things up and opened another brew pub in the next town over, Joseph. Two sweet breweries a few miles apart? Unheard of, except Mutiny Brewing takes their beer where few go. They don’t bottle and ship. They keg and pour and it is delicious.

How many brew pubs and wineries can you find in the big cities of North Bend and Coos Bay? None, though Seven Devils Brewing is on line, or will be soon.

Two smaller towns have brew pubs on the east side of the state, and Oregon’s Bay Area has one? That’s bound to change.

Elkton is on the forefront of change. If ranch towns like Joseph can become tourist destinations, then a logging town can follow suit.

In the near future you can expect to find a sleek Mercedes next to a Dodge Power Wagon, a tricked out Cadillac next to a crummy.

Once the crowds start showing up for the unique varietal wines of Elkton, the locals will catch on.

There’s nothing a tipsy rich couple need more than a Logger Burger and an art gallery.

Look for a custom chocolate shop coming soon.

What would it take for you to plan a day in Elkton?

NW Boomer and boomerpdx suggest following these links:

Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill and Café.

Brandborg Vineyard and Winery.

River’s Edge Winery.

Bradley Vineyards.

Anindor Vineyards.

If you make it a one day visit, bring your calendar. You’ll be back.
















About David Gillaspie
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