Third annual event at the Mount Angel Festhalle showcases eastern valley wineries

COURTESY PHOTO: CASCADE FOOTHILLS WINEGROWERS - The public is invited the Mount Angel Festhalle on April 28 to taste learn and celebrate wine grown by Cascade Foothill Winegrowers.Consider attending "Taste. Learn. Celebrate!" as spring training for wine enthusiasts before Oregon Wine Month begins in May.

Hosted by Cascade Foothills Winegrowers, the third annual Taste. Learn. Celebrate! is a chance to taste wine crafted by 15 winemakers, learn about winemaking and vineyard management and celebrate the kick-off of Oregon Wine Month.

"With our wineries stretching from Oregon City to Sublimity, Taste. Learn. Celebrate! is an occasion for wine lovers to visit all 15 wineries in one day and learn about the varietals and award-winning wines being crafted by family-owned and operated winemakers," Whiskey Hill winemaker and vineyard manager Chris Helbling said.

Whiskey Hill is one of four wineries located near Canby, Helbling said, adding he enjoys partnering with his fellow winemakers in the Cascade Foothills Winegrowers to promote the region.

"When people are thinking about spending an afternoon wine tasting, we want to encourage them to explore the Willamette Valley's east side," Ingram added. "Visiting wineries in the Cascade Foothills allows wine enthusiasts to explore less-traveled country roads, stop at roadside fruit stands in the summer months, have lunch in one of our towns or visit Silver Falls State Park or the Oregon Garden."

Taste. Learn. Celebrate! is noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at the Mount Angel Festhalle, 500 Wilco Highway N.E. in Mount Angel.

Tickets are $15 and include 10 tastes, music and a Cascade Foothills logo wineglass.

Along with food for purchase from local restaurants, there will be displays of winemaking and vineyard management tools and machines. And an additional feature this year: hourly talks by winemakers andgrape-growers, sharing insights on how we make wine in the Willamette Valley.

Participating wineries include: AlexEli of Molalla; Aurora Cellars and Pheasant Run of Aurora; Christopher Bridge, Forest Edge, King's Raven and Villa Catalana of Oregon City; St. Josef's and Whiskey Hill of Canby, Hanson and Wooden Shoe of Woodburn; Piluso of Aumsville; Pudding River of Salem; Silver Falls of Sublimity and Vitis Ridge of Silverton.

"When guests visit any of our tasting rooms, their wine will most likely be poured by the winemaker or one of their family members," Carl McKnight of St. Josef's and Pheasant Run wineries said. "Because the pace is a little slower and quieter in the Cascade Foothills, it's a unique opportunity for wine enthusiasts to visit with the winemakers and often get to see the process of making wine or harvesting grapes, depending on what time of year they are visiting."

While there are fewer wineries in the Willamette Valley's eastern side, more than 1,500 acres of vineyards provide grapes to many of Oregon's well-known and prestigious wineries. And wine grapes have been growing her for more than 50 years.

"In our region, we have the traditional Oregon varietals such as Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, but also less-known varietals like Tempranillo, Dolcetto and Gamay to name just a few of

the more than three dozen varietals grown here. While people are still learning about the Cascade Foothills region, I am proud to say our wines are garnering attention far and wide," shares Sandee Piluso of Piluso Vineyard and Winery.

"As winemakers, we have a long history of working together, whether it's to promote an event, discuss what's happening in our vineyards or share something we learned at the Oregon Wine Symposium," Sean Driggers of Pudding River said. "We understand the best way to sell our wines, and tell our stories, is by working together. And Taste. Learn. Celebrate! is a great example of our small, family wineries coming together for an afternoon of fun and wine."

While each winery in the Cascade Foothills has a unique varietal, method or philosophy, Jan Wallinder of Forest Edge Vineyard in Oregon City noted what they all have in common is their genuine hospitality.

"Each of our wineries loves to meet new visitors and share what they know about winemaking and growing grapes. We want the Cascade Foothills to be known for its old-fashion hospitality. Come enjoy the wine, and even better… feel like you are among friends!"

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