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Civic Winery
by
Terry Sullivan

Civic WinerySummary: Wine enthusiasts can enjoy an urban winery setting that provides a window into Willamette Valley and other Oregon wine regions wines. Another unique part of Civic Winery is the practice of crafting wines in terra cotta vessels. This ancient winemaking process offers visitors an experience in color, aroma and taste that is unique outside of Eastern Europe.

Civic WineryWe entered the winery from the rear during our weekday visit. Owner, Craig Weicker was working in the back production area with Dolcetto wine grapes sourced from growers in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. As we entered the production area we noticed several terra cotta vessels standing up while others were on their sides. A concrete egg was in the corner. Our experiences with qvevri winemaking made us excited to see and taste the wines crafted in these reddish-orange clay vessels.

Craig mentioned that he always liked wine and clay vessels. He sees the use of making wine in clay vessels as a more natural way of winemaking. The use of clay vessels to make wine dates back several thousands of years. Craig purchased these 330 liter clay vessels from Andrew Beckham. The vessels have a design near the top of the outer side. Some of the clay vessels were fitted with stainless steel tops. Craig also uses a 500 liter italian artenova clay vessel (pictured below right)

Civic Winery   Civic Winery   Civic Winery

The winemaking production area has a modern-day look, even though the building is old. The building was a former bicycle shop from the 1930s. Materials to build the original building were sourced from the same place that materials for the construction of Civic Stadium were sourced from. Craig wanted to keep the past in mind, and decided to call the winery Civic Winery. Civic Stadium was Eugene’s minor league baseball stadium. It unfortunately burned down. Craig purchased the building where the winery is located in 2017. The first wine vintage was produced in 2018.

Civic WineryIn addition to the production area, there is a barrel room that can also house events. There is room for 250 people for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, corporate meetings and many other events. Barrels are stacked three high. This area gives an old world feel.

In the front of the building along East 11th Avenue, there is a restaurant and the winery Natural Wine Bar. The Natural Wine Bar specializes in natural wines from around the world as well as Civic wines.

Civic Wine Bar

The wine bar has the wine tasting counter along a side with windows overlooking the production area. The cement walls are gray in color, although one wall has colorful graffiti. Padded chairs are along the tasting counter. The area also has several tables (recycled wood tables from old University of Oregon indoor tennis courts) and chairs. A retired terra cotta vessel now holds a plant. A ceramic tiled mural gives a feeling of old-world charm. The wine bar offers wines from small producers that are organic or biodynamic often fermented with indigenous yeasts. We tasted three of Civic’s wines with Craig.

Wines

The 2018 Pétillant Naturel Van Duzer Corridor AVA was a sparkling wine made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. This 12% alcohol wine was a light amber color. It was lightly effervescent. Apple and citrus were on the aroma and taste. The finish was crisp and palate cleansing.

Civic WineryThe 2018 Amphora Orange Willamette Valley AVA was made from Pinot Grigio and had 12.5% alcohol. The wine spent three months on its skins in one of the clay vessels. It had a translucent sienna color. Dried fruits were on the aroma. The taste offered dried apples, figs and white raisins. The wine was full bodied and had bold tannins. Dried fruits were on the finish. The unusual color and tannins for a Pinot Grigio were due to the time spent on the skins, seeds and stems.

The Red Wine Blend Amphora Applegate Valley AVA was also made in a clay vessel. This wine was a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Viognier. With 13.2% alcohol, the wine was an opaque dark ruby to purple color. The wine spent 40 days on the skins. The aroma included black fruits and flowers. The taste was reminiscent of blackberries, flowers and pepper. The wine had a full body and kissing tannins (your lips would pucker as if you were going to kiss someone). Dried fruits were on the finish.

Craig would like people to know that the Civic Wine Bar offers several Willamette Valley wines and wines from other Oregon wine regions. There is also a restaurant in the building, Lion and Owl that has a menu that celebrates the Pacific Northwest. Civic Winery is a place to learn about wine and a unique take on quality wines. This is an urban fun place.

Wine enthusiasts can get a sense of Ancient-world, Old-world and New-world winemaking in an urban setting. The emphasis is on having an enjoyable visit.

Civic Winery
50 E 11th Ave
Eugene, Oregon, 97401

GPS: N44º 02.8313’ W123º 05.5268’

Civic Winery website

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Article written November 2019



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