Ant Farm Collective’s Feast of Three Sisters

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Follow Adventure Specialist Gabrielle Lent as she explores this winter feast. Find out more about our local food here.

The fertile grounds of the Pacific Northwest bare a divinity of crops each harvest season. Though I am not a farmer, I have for the past year had the privilege of living among several in an intentional community bound together by a focus on sustainable living and a love of soil. My knowledge, tastes and appreciation of agriculture have flourished in this environment where the bounties of our land are humbly celebrated every day through a farm-to-table lifestyle and homegrown kitchen endeavors.

Centerpiece - Feast of Three SistersLast night in the dining room of Mac’s at the Vets Club, a winter season’s feast showcasing corn, beans and squash was organized by farm collectives and local individuals, some of whom I call my roommates.

For a sliding scale admission of $10 to $20, all were invited to enjoy live music and experience tastings, food demonstrations and a dinner starring these three dietary staples that together are affectionately known as Three Sisters.

The Feast of Three Sisters kicked off with a tasting of 20 squash varietals, each labeled with an identifying nametag and housed in bowls on a large, round table.

The table’s middle boasted a three-tiered centerpiece comprised of various whole squashes, dried corn cobs and labeled jars of bean varietals.Centerpiece 2 - Feast of Three Sisters

Flavor wheels and sheets of paper were provided for those wanting to take tasting notes on the different kinds of squash, an interactive opportunity I found quite exciting.

After much sampling, my favorites were the grassy, cantaloupe-like Winter Sweet and the creamy, brown sugar boldness of the Uncle David Dakota Dessert.

Yellow, red, white and blue corn tortillas were offered to guests on serving trays and proved an excellent palate cleanser between bites of squash.

Squash Tasting 2 - Feast of Three SistersA surprisingly green tortilla made of spinach and corn did not capture my interest as much as the experimental black chanterelle tortilla with its light but distinct notes of earthy flavor.

While waiting to order drinks at the bar we snacked on Trinity Nibbles, a delightful mixture of all three sisters. Whipple beans, mixed squash seed and corn kernels were deep fried in oil creating a rich treat. The little beans were mouthcoating pillow puffs; very fun to eat.

With beers in hand we took our seats at a shared table just in time to miss the first course of the feast, refried Arikara bean empanadas with corn relish and hot sauce, garnished with chimichurri and red guajillo pepper. They looked delicious. Many confirmed that they were.

Next came a broiled square of polenta, Candystick delicate squash and roasted red peppers drizzled again with chimichirri. The course was at once savory and satisfying, served hot and in abundance though we did have to fight for our share. There were limited seats in contrast with the number of people in attendance and servers were met by hungry, standing-room-only guests before making it to tables with trays of food.

Fava Falafel and Hummus - Feast of Three SistersA third course was presented to our end of the table on a triumphant, boat-sized plate harboring tortillas, fava falafel, a yummy tzatziki dipping sauce and three types of hummus. Each hummus was made from a different bean, including pureed Sweet Lorane small fava, black Beefy Grex and Kenearly Yellow Eye. The Beefy Grex was slightly transparent in flavor though I very much cared for the creamy accompaniment of the Kenearly Yellow Eye hummus with the blue corn tortillas.

The final course of the feast took a dramatic turn in content and presentation. Diners were encouraged to stand and be served as volunteers ladled healthy portions of pozole rojo soup into bowls. Adornments of fresh chopped cabbage, radishes, onion and tortilla strips were available as toppings for the mild red guajillo chile broth filled with hominy, chicken and pork. A hot liquid, the soup acted as a lovely aperitif to the dense fulfillment of corn, squash and beans; a pleasant, rounding night cap to a well crafted meal. A vegetarian option was also available.

Centerpiece - Feast of Three SistersAfter the announcement of the evening’s raffle winners, the consumption of a few more pieces of squash and the closing of our bar tabs, we bid adieu to this roomful of friends just before the commencement of dancing and dessert (green mole squash ice cream and gingersnaps).

The event ran longer than expected and though I had to cut my time short, I did not feel shorted.

In the end, a great time was had by all. There were a few hiccups in the event’s execution but the inaugural Feast of Three Sisters was an inspired showcase of the versatility of Pacific Northwest crops, a humble celebration of farm-to-table lifestyle and homegrown kitchen endeavors, and a privilege to attend.

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Get Ready for the Slopes – Snow is Here!

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Follow Adventure Specialist and photographer Thomas Moser as he tackles Lane County’s snowfall! Find more winter adventures on our Sno-Parks and snow adventures page.

6 a.m., coffee is brewing, pancakes are sizzling, snacks are prepared. Time to get dressed in as many layers as you can find – it’s a ski day!

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass1 12262015

Snow fans ride to the top of the Willamette Pass.

Whether you are a skilled winter sport enthusiast or just braving up to hit the slopes for the first time, Willamette Pass Resort has enough snow this year to make an Austrian giddy (and that doesn’t come easy).

With 70 inches of snow at the beautiful lodge and 118 inches at the second peak, this short and beautiful drive up to Willamette Pass is well worth the effort.

Driving along Highway 58 and the frozen winter wonderland is like seeing something out of a fairy-tale. Stunning views of the Willamette River and sneak peeks of snowy Diamond Peak enchant and dazzle.

Road crews are clearing the way, but make sure you are equipped with traction tires or carrying chains. It can be icy!

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Carving the slopes with Waldo Lake in the distance.

Once you get to the ski area if you don’t have your own gear don’t worry! You can rent it all on-site.

They even offer a variety of lessons from private lessons to group to first timers.

If you’re looking for some crowd favorite trails, make sure to ski over to the Twilight Lift and take some runs down “Peekaboo,” Duck Soup,” and “Swoosh.”


For the more advanced skiers, take the Eagle Peak Accelerator to Eagle Peak and use “Boundary Pass” to get to some of the more difficult Black Diamond trails.

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass5 12262015If you ski your self into a hunger frenzy, leave your skis or snowboard out on the backside of the lodge and head up to the second floor.

Whether you packed a lunch or are purchasing food there, there is plenty of seating for even the largest of groups.

Heading up one more floor to the lounge for the best views. With a hot drink in hand, it is easy to let the minutes tick away in contentment as you watch people ski down the face on “By George.”

After lunch, it’s time to ski some more!

Thomas Moser - Ski Day at Willamette Pass4 12262015

Stop in at Oakridge’s Brewer’s Union for a tasty beverage after a day on the slopes.

When you finally head back to Eugene, make sure to stop in Oakridge for a world class microbrew. Nothing finishes up a perfect ski day like the family friendly, and local favorite, Brewer’s Union Local 180. Enjoy from their personal line up of gravity feed cask beers, or sample one of their guest taps. What you pick is sure to be perfect with their menu of British style pub food.

With a session as good as the one we are getting this year,I’m excited to get back soon!

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Take a Family Trip this Holiday Season

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Spend the holidays with family at fun events! Find even more on our Holiday Events page.

The rains are here and it is once again that cozy time of year in Oregon! However Oregonians don’t let the rain or cold keep them indoors. To help you make the most of the season Eugene, Cascades & Coast has put together a list of family friendly activities and events to watch out for this season:

Sahalie Falls in Winter by Greg Yamada

A Classic Holiday in the Cascades

Pick up a Christmas Tree Permit or Snow Park Pass at Eugene, Cascades & Coast’s Adventure Center and head to the mountains for a fun day in the snow that the whole family will enjoy!

Holiday Science Adventures at the Science Factory

During half-day workshops your child can explore fun science topics, including; candy makers, toy engineers and how to have a green holiday. 12/21/2015 – 12/23/2015

Northern Lights – a winter Solstice Celebration at the Museum of Natural University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History logoHistory

Celebrate the winter solstice at University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History with crafts, face paint, live music and performances.12/18/2015

Santa Visits and Let it Snow at Fifth Street Market

Enjoy the magic of a snowfall over Fifth Street Market 6-6:30 on Friday and Saturday Evenings. 11/28/2015 – 12/19/2015

Or bring your kids to get their picture taken with Santa on Saturday afternoons.  11/28/2015 – 12/19/2015

Holiday lights at the Village Green’s annual display

Christmas at the Village Green Resort & Gardens

See a dazzling display of Christmas lights in the Wedding Garden, and make s’mores while cozying up next to the fire with a warm mug of gluhwein or hot cocoa. 11/27/2015 to 12/25/2015

Oregon Coast Military Museum

Take an educational trip to the Coast with your family and see the life size displays of WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Make sure to call ahead to check on hours because the museum is only open three days a week.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Cottage TheatreJesus Christ Superstar courtesy of Cottage Theatre

Cottage Theatre presents The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in an enchanting tale of four children who wander into the magical land of Narnia.  12/4/2015-12/20/2015

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Winter Seasonals from Eugene’s Local Brewers & Fermenters

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Get ready for seasonal brews in the Eugene Ale Trail! See a full list of Eugene Ale Trail breweries here and some special seasonals below.

It’s that bittersweet time of year again. Trees are shedding their final leaves, while stores have started to stock their shelves with holiday decorations.

But grocery stores aren’t the only ones with the winter season on their minds. Near the end of October our local brewers started releasing their Winter Seasonal Ales. So why not  get festive and kick off the holiday season with one of these festive brews?

To help you out we’ve made this list of what seasonal ales to look out for and get you in the holiday spirit:


A close look at this double alt seasonal favorite from Ninkasi

Ninkasi Brewing Company – Sleigh’r

Sleigh’r became a seasonal favorite for Ninkasi fans in 2009, mixing traditional winter
flavors with a Ninkasi flavor punch. A dark double alt ale gives this brew a “deep, toasted malt flavor.”

This beer gets bonus points for being available on tap at Ninkasi’s tasting room, as well as, bottled. So there is no excuse not to try it!

Oakshire Brewing Ill-Tempered Gnome & Barleywine

12240385_10153311398366733_9100887531930183395_oOakshire Brewing has two seasonal favorites to watch out for this winter. The first is their widely recognized Ill-Tempered Gnome. An American Brown Style (hoppy brown) is brewed with six different specialty malts, resulting in a more complex flavor.

Around mid-November Oakshire also releases their barley wine.

After brewing and fermenting, it’s sent to brandy barrels to age for a year, making it a creation quite worth the wait.

Both of these brews will be on tap at the Oakshire Taphouse throughout the season, as well as, located in stores in 22oz. bottles.

Viking Braggot Company – Winter Squash Porter

VikingFor a new twist on a classic, beer enthusiasts should check out Viking Braggot’s Winter Squash Porter.

This imperial porter is made unique with pounds of Delecata winter squash and turnip honey.

Top off a hearty winter meal with this rich, velvety brew and enjoy the many flavors of the season in one glass.

WildCraft Cider Works – Elderberry Perry

WildCraft-Bottles-Elderberry PerryFor the cider lovers there is WildCraft Cider Work’s Perry collection. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Elderberry Perry.

This cider is crafted with elderberries found in the mountains of Cottage Grove, hand destemmed and fermented whole. But the final product is worth the effort, because these berries help add a hint of fruitiness to the rich bodied pear flavor of the cider.

Can’t choose just one? Make sure to bring along the Eugene Ale Trail Passport and get stamps from the breweries you visit. Get eight stamps and you can pick up your own 32 oz. “Eugene Ale Trail” growler from our Adventure Center in Springfield!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And while you’re touring, knock a these winter favorites off your list:

Agrarian Ales Brewing Company

  • Poblamo! Amber – Chile Beer
  • Yuletide – Belgian style, holiday strong ale

Plank Town Brewing Company

  • Hobbit’s Little Helper – Rich, deep mahogany ale
  • UnObtainium – Double IPA

Falling Sky Brewing

  • Falling Sky is all about seasonal ales. Visit their Brewery or Deli to see what’s on tap this week!

Hop Valley Brewing Company (Available at both Eugene & Springfield Locations)

  • Festeroo Winter Ale

Elk Horn Brewery

  • Smoked Pecan Brown Ale
  • Russian Imperial Stout
  • Stag Moose: 2014 Russian Imperial, barrel aged
  • Barrel Aged Belgian Quadruple

Brewers Union Local 180

  • Frost on the Bumpkin- Winter stout (available now)
  • Tanninbomb- Oak aged English old ale

McMenamins (Available at all three locations in Eugene)

  • Black Widow Porter
  • Kris Kringle – Traditional Yuletide Ale

Sam Bond’s Brewing Company

  • Holiday Cream Ale

Steelhead Brewing Company

  • Heatmeiser- Hoppy amber beer

Claim 52 Brewing & The Abbey

  • Sugar Plum Fairy – Belgian Dark Strong style beer
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Find Local Holiday Gifts in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Region

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Get ready for the holidays this year with local shopping and unique gifts! Find some of our favorite ways in the post below. Visit our holiday page for more events going on this season and our shopping page for a bigger list of spots to shop this year.

It’s that time of the year again; shoppers are ready to hit the stores and fill their carts with the hottest deals of the season. However, if rushing through those crowded stores isn’t your scene, then you’re a perfect candidate for Springfield’s Small Business Saturday deals.

On November 28th you’ll find the Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Passport and a Shop Small tote bag at several participating locations.

Just grab aSBS Facebook Header - Blue (2) passport and find deals on unique items while supporting small businesses this year. Get it stamped and returned to the Chamber by December 14 for a chance at a prize basket!

Need help prioritizing your holiday errands? Here are a few other places to start:

Travel Lane County’s Adventure Center

The Adventure Center, located on Gateway Street in Springfield, is a true hub for local information and crafts. Start your excursion here with our Adventure specialists who can help tailor your shopping day and don’t miss the Adventure Center’s selection of retail items reflecting some of our favorite crafts of the region.ADVENTURE CENTER IN SPRINGFIELD BY EUGEN

Browse through a variety of local craft beers and wines, which will pair well with Euphoria Chocolates. Showcase your Oregonian pride with Crippen Design’s new PNW t-shirts or a Eugene Ale Trail v-neck.

You’ll find surprises like alpaca fleece toe stuffers from Aragon Alpacas too. Stuff these natural liners into the front of your boots with alpaca fleece and say goodbye to cold toes for the winter as they contour to your foot! Bring in three cans of food through the rest of 2015 and get 20% off any item. Find more deals like these at the Adventure Center Deals page.

Saturday Market’s Holiday Market

Open weekends at the Lane Event Center, this market features a variety of local artisans. Many that you will recognize from the outdoor Saturday Market, alongside artists who are specially featured for the holiday season.

On top of a selection of amazing vendors, the Holiday Market also provides a selection of delicious foods to enjoy while listening to some live music. Enjoy a vibrant atmosphere that will lift your spirits for the season.

Fifth Street Market

With a fantastic selection of fine boutiques and locally made artisan products, this is a perfect time to visit the Fifth Street Market for your holiday shopping. Fifth Street Market features shops that focus on jewelry and accessories, home goods, food, and apparel.Let-it-SNOW

If you are looking to spice up your Holiday Shopping this year, the market will be hosting a variety of holiday events to check out while you shop. Swing by the market in the evening on November 28th for Night of a Thousand Stars and see the market light up with twinkling lights.

And what is the holiday season without snow? Attend the weekly Let it Snow event and
experience a magical snow fall over the market. Bring the kids to see Santa, he will make a special visit to the market every Saturday through December 19th!

Downtown Eugene Shops

While you’re downtown Eugene, pick up a warm drink at local coffee shops like Full City Roasters and explore the various small shops that Eugene has to offer.Barn Light

From local favorites at gilt + gossamer and Footwise to specialty items at Harlequin Beads and Heritage Dry Goods, shopping here always rewards with unique items and select the most personal gifts.

After spending a Saturday supporting some of Lane County’s small shops and vendors, why not take a retreat. Whether that’s a weekend in South Willamette Wine Country, or a holiday weekend at the Oregon Coast or the Cascades Mountain Range, treat yourself this year!

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Tour Oregon’s South Willamette Wine Country on Thanksgiving Weekend

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Sweet Cheeks Gazing Cyclist by Molly Blancett

A cyclist taking in the gorgeous view at Sweet Cheeks Winery

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best times to visit Oregon wineries. Many have just finished fall harvest and are eager to release new wines for the season.

No plans for the holiday? Check out a few of the Thanksgiving dining experiences planned by a few of our restaurants.

And don’t forget about all of the holiday events going on around town that week!
With a little planning, an affordable wine country vacation is an easy and quick getaway to make. Live music, great food, art vendors – there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Here are a few of our favorite South Willamette Winery Thanksgiving weekend celebrations:

Benton-Lane Winery

Thanksgiving Weekend Open House
Friday- Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

Taste wine in the Romantic Holiday Barrel Rooms while enjoying Christmas music and artisan cheese and meat plates. Gourmet pizzas will be available Saturday and Sunday.

Brigadoon Wine Company

Thanksgiving Weekend Open House
Friday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

On Saturday the winery will be featuring live music and Sunday is all about chocolate! Visitors will have the opportunity to sample chocolate with their wine and purchase chocolates from Northern Italy.

Domaine Meriwether Winery

Open Regular Hours
Friday – Sunday, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Iris Vineyards

Chestnut Roasting Party
Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.

Stay warm with fire roasted chestnuts and rich bodied wines with Iris Vineyard’s chestnut roasting party at the Estate Tasting Room.

J. Scott Cellars

Friday & Saturday, 1 – 9 p.m.; Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m.

Scott Cellars is kicking off the season with live music on Friday and Saturday, food trucks, a special wine release, the chance to jump start holiday gift giving with wine packages and gift certificates plus guest winery, Poco Collina  (Saturday)!

King Estate Winery

Open Regular Hours
Friday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. 

LaVelle Vineyards

Open Regular Hours
Friday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

Noble Estate Vineyard & Winery

Noble Estate Vineyards 
Friday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.

This weekend Noble Estate Vineyards will have customized wine flights, artisan Chocolate Tasting by Brutto ma Buono, jewelry trunk show by Stella & Dot and holiday wine specials.
Noble Estate Urban

Noble Estate Tasting Room

Friday – Sunday, 4 – 10 p.m.

After enjoying holiday festivities at the vineyard tasting room, check out Noble Estate’s urban location featuring live music, locally made chocolate, cheese plates and wine specials.

Oregon Wine LAB

Friday, noon -10 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 6 p.m.

Make sure to swing by Oregon Wine LAB on Friday to see their featured artist of Eugene’s Last Friday Art Walk and enjoy live music. There will also be live music at 4 p.m. on Sunday to listen to while sipping on your wine.

Pfeiffer Vineyards

Pfeiffer Vineyards
Friday – Sunday , 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Head over to Pfeiffer Vineyards this Thanksgiving weekend and enjoy live music, great food, marshmallow roasting and, of course, great wine.

Saginaw Vineyard

Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. &  Live music and dinner 6 – 9 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Friday night is going to be a special event at Saginaw Vineyards with live music and dinner available for guests. On top of that, all weekend visitors can enjoy complimentary wine tastings and hors d’oeuvres, as well as, new cheese plate options available for purchase

Sarver Winery

Friday, noon – 9 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 12 – 6 p.m.

Enjoy live music into the night on Friday and during the afternoon on Saturday/Sunday. To mark the beginning of winter season, hot soup will be served to accompany the wine and warm guests up.

Silvan Ridge Winery

Thanksgiving Weekend Celebration
Friday – Sunday, Noon – 5 p.m.

Welcome to the annual celebration of family, wine and friends including new wine releases, live music and more.

Sweet Cheeks Winery

10th Anniversary and Thanksgiving Celebration
Friday, noon – 9 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, noon – 6 p.m.

Celebrate Sweet Cheeks’ 10th Anniversary this Thanksgiving weekend, with live music and food carts alternating every day.

Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company

Friday, 5 -10 p.m.; Saturday, 1 – 9 p.m.; Sunday 1 – 6 p.m.

Open with extended hours for Thanksgiving weekend Territorial Vineyards will be having 2 for 1 tastings all weekend long. Listen to live music on Friday night and Saturday afternoon and make sure to checkout the weekend’s wine bottle deals!

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Show Your Ticket for a Great Night Downtown

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Fall is here and entertainment’s in full gear! In this post, learn how to get special deals by showing a qualifying Hult Center ticket at a participating restaurant. Find out more about the new “Show Your Ticket & Save” program and the list of qualifying shows here.

There’s nothing quite like a fun night on the town. As the cool and crisp Autumn air rolls in, we look forward to the fabulous shows, concerts and events Eugene’s resident companies put on at the Hult Center. This year, we’re celebrating the season with the Show Your Ticket & Save program.

It all starts with a ticket to a show from one of the resident companies: Ballet Fantastique, Eugene Ballet Company, the Eugene Symphony, and/or the Eugene Concert Choir. No
matter what your scene might be, the Hult Center’s variety is sure to please!

Barn Light Outdoors

Explore some of Eugene’s newest eateries, breweries and bars

Take your qualifying ticket to any of the supporting locations four days before and/or after the ticket date and find a range of deals around the show!

We were so excited to roll out this program, we had to put it to the test on a recent outing around the Eugene Symphony’s 50th Anniversary Season opening concert, An American in Paris.


Grab a Bite Before the Act

There are a handful of great local eateries, breweries and wine bars that participate in the Show Your Ticket & Save program. With plenty of options within walking distance from the Hult Center, keep in mind that parking is free after 6 PM, and in great supply.

Sandwich Menu Inside Barnlight

Show your resident company ticket to your server at The Barn Light for 10% off your tab that night

Our pick for dinner and a drink that night was the The Barn Light. Now with two locations to choose from (on Willamette St. in downtown Eugene, or on East 8th Ave.), the two offer a nice mix of atmospheres.

The downtown location offers a great beer menu, fun food options, and cool games like shuffleboard and Foosball – making it a great spot to kick-off or wrap-up the night.

Settle in for a Fantastic Show

We showed up early to the Hult Center to grab a glass of wine before settling in for a fantastic opening concert.

Eug Symphony

The Hult Center watches and listens in awe of the Eugene Symphony’s performance

The show offered both timeless and timely American Works. Grammy-nominated composer Mason Bates’ piece was inspired by childhood memories listening to jazz, big band and swing records in his father’s man-cave.

The Eugene Symphony’s performance of the piece was actually a world premiere. Quite the incredible moment to be a part of!

Following the premiere was Benjamin Beilman’s Eugene debut – what an incredible, young violinist! Notes would rise and fall with ease from his fingertips while the audience fell awestruck and silent. It was truly a night to remember at the Hult Center.

Explore Breakfast Options


Check out local cafe hotspots like Theo’s Coffee House in the morning

Since the Show Your Ticket & Save program extends to four days before and after a show, hang onto those tickets! From coffee shops to fine eats – there’s something for nearly every early-morning palate downtown.

For our breakfast the next day we decided to visit a local coffee favorite, Theo’s, where we received a $1 off each delicious cup.

Ready to hit the town?

Here’s a full list of the participating shows this season. Time to grab a ticket, and have a blast!

  • September 24 – An American in Paris from Eugene Symphony 
  • October 9, 10, 11 – Cirque de la Lune from Ballet Fantastique
  • October 15 – Miguel Conducts Ginastera from Eugene Symphony
  • October 24, 25 – Sleeping Beauty from Eugene Ballet Company
  • November 12 – From the New World from Eugene Symphony
  • December 3 – American Spectacular from Eugene Symphony
  • December 6 – A Dickens of a Christmas from Eugene Concert Choir
  • December 11 – Yo-Yo Ma Eugene Symphony
  • December 11, 12, 13 – An American Christmas Carol from Ballet Fantastique
  • December 18, 19, 20 – The Nutcracker from Eugene Ballet Company


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Harvest at Noble Estate

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It’s finally fall this week, and Noble Estate Vineyard and Winery has been busy at harvest! Hear about their process from Noble Estate’s Marketing Manager, Amy Shadell in this post. To learn more about the South Willamette Wineries, visit our Wine Country page.  

pinot harvest 6

Time for the Pinot harvest!

As the air cools and the leaves turn red and gold, we’re reminded that fall will be here soon. In the wineries and vineyards of the South Willamette Valley, this means harvest time. Owner and winemaker Mark Jurasevich, of Noble Estate Vineyard and Winery, explains “that despite record heat this summer our vines are looking great. We anticipate starting harvest in mid to late September.”
Leading up to harvest, vineyards begin to undergo a process called veraison. What many people may not realize is most grapes start out green.  The beginning of the ripening process, also called veraison, is when these green grapes change color.

Grapes that are used to make red wine, like Pinot Noir for instance, turn deep purple while some white wine grapes turn a rich golden hue.  Veraison is a visual cue that harvest season is approaching. But what about taste?

bucket of pinot noir

A bucket of Pinot noir

Before grapes can be harvested, they are tested for sugar levels (or brix) and to see how the flavors are developing. Ripe wine grapes are often sweet, with tannins coming from the seeds and skins. About four weeks after veraison, grapes will start being tested daily.

A common question in the Noble Estate tasting room is: are all grapes picked at the same time?  The answer is usually no.  At Noble Estate the Muscat will be ready first, while the Riesling will most likely be last.

Once they reach the ideal brix, grapes are ready to be picked. Brix can change quickly, so the picking crew must be ready to get started with only a few days’ notice.

muscat 2013 grapes

2013 Muscat grapes during harvest

This is when the fun starts. Harvest means long (and sticky) days starting when the sun rises. Imagine watching the fog roll through the vineyards in the early morning.

There’s a nip in the air as you carefully hand pick each cluster of estate grown grapes. Starting on one row you slowly work your way to the end, untying bird netting and emptying your bucket periodically in large grape bins.

These bins are taken to the winery, where later in the day the grapes will be sorted and pressed. Harvest days can be close to 20 hours long. Depending on the size of the winery harvest season can last a couple of weeks or a month.

Want to witness harvest in person? Visit the wineries and vineyards of the South Willamette Valley this fall and you may glimpse people picking or even get to taste the grapes! At Noble Estate’s vineyard tasting room on Gimpl Hill, guests can see and sample Pinot Noir vines on the patio. During the 2014 harvest, Muscat clusters were brought to the tasting room where guests could taste the fresh grapes next to the finished product. Visit the Noble Estate tasting room this fall to get a taste of harvest. Open daily 12- 5 pm.

Also check out the list of Oregon wineries to hit this fall in Oregon Fall Foliage’s recent wine post

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Eugene Adventure Giveaway starts right now on Facebook!

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Check out this fantastic vacation up for grabs on our Eugene, Cascades & Coast Facebook page!

On September 15, 2015, we’ll be working with Vacasa Vacation Rentals, Pacific Pub Cycle and Scenic Jet Boat Tours to offer a fun package giveaway in Eugene!

A vacation rental that fits up to 8 visitors is up for grabs along with a fun pub cycle ride AND a jet boat tour along the Willamette river.  These gift certificates will be for a range of dates, so the winner can pick a time that works best for them. Don’t miss this fun giveaway – just head over and like our Facebook page, then share the Eugene Adventure Giveaway post for a chance to win!

For rules, conditions and more, see below:

This contest excludes Travel Lane County employees and employee family members. Winners must be 21 or older.

To enter in the Eugene Adventure Giveaway, follow these steps:

  1. Like our Facebook Page
  2. Share the Eugene Adventure Giveaway post for an entry to win

NOTE: This contest is only on our Facebook page, no other social media channels will be used in this giveaway.


The winner will be selected among entrants with a randomizer.


  • Participants hereby grant Travel Lane County a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to broadcast, publish, store, reproduce, distribute, syndicate, and otherwise use and exhibit the submission in media now known and later come into being for purposes of trade or advertising without further compensation.
  • Winners will be required to execute and return a Certificate of Eligibility, Consent and General Release form within 14 days of notification.

By participating in this contest, you acknowledge that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, and release Facebook from any and all liability arising from or related to this contest.

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A story from the saddle: Horseback riding along the Oregon Coast

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Find out what a tour of the Central Oregon Coast on horseback feels like from Turell Group‘s Kelli Warner. For more coastal adventures and trip ideas, head to our Oregon Coast page.

As a child, I begged for a pony. I never got one, unfortunately. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually ridden a horse.

As novice as that may sound, my husband and 17-year-old son have never ridden and my 13-year-old daughter’s only experience was a 30-minute ride at summer camp last year.

That might explain why we’d driven past C&M Stables on Highway 101 numerous times on our family excursions to the Florence area, but we never stopped.

All I can say now is—why in the world did we wait so long?

I’ll be honest, there was a subtle, unspoken 2Warner-0088nervousness circling us as we stepped inside the office to check in for our ride—as if our inexperience would set off some alarm and somehow disqualify us.

My nerves eased as soon as we met the warm, welcoming staff.


It turns out we’re not the anomaly we imagined ourselves to be. In fact, about 85 percent of the people who come to C&M Stables are beginners—just like us.

1Warner-1119After reading the instructions and guidelines and filling out the appropriate paperwork, we donned our helmets and headed out to the corral. We were about to be introduced to our guide, Tyler, and the horses that would turn our family’s picture-perfect afternoon on the coast into an unforgettable adventure: Cowboy, C.J., Styles and Sandman.

Standing there, ready to saddle up, I felt like
a kid again—a kid who was finally getting that pony. I could not have been more excited.

Instead of the horses rolling their eyes at our inexperience, it was my teenagers who offered their best eye-rolls as I snapped pictures of them on their horses like we were at Disneyland. (They couldn’t fool me—they were excited, too!)

Tyler explained the fundamentals of
how to hold the reins, how to get the horses to go, to turn right or left, and to stop (most important in my book) and within minutes, we set out on an easy ride over nearby nature trails, then headed for the dunes and the beach.

We’re native Oregonians, and we’ve visited the coast many times.

It’s one of our favorite places, but seeing the dunes and the beach on horseback was like seeing it for the first time. Looking up at the massive dunes, it was hard to imagine climbing them, until the horses were actually doing it. I was in total awe of their strength and power navigating through sand.

5Warner-0117As we descended the dunes, we met another group of riders on their way back to the ranch. They told us how much fun they’d had on the beach, and we quickly realized why. Except for the seagulls and the crashing waves, we had the area all to ourselves. It was incredibly peaceful.

We were allowed to break from single-file trail formation and ride independently and spread out, even riding along the surf
(like they do in the movies!). We were also given the opportunity to trot our horses if we chose. Tyler offered to take pictures of the family with our camera, and I appreciated that—these memories were keepers.

On the return ride back to the stables, I became acutely aware that the entire family had gone quiet, which anyone with kids can tell you doesn’t happen very often. All of us, my husband included, were enthralled by the sights and relaxed by the tranquility, to the point of lapsing into silence. It was truly one of those moments where together as a family, in the midst of Oregon’s beauty, I thought to myself, “This is a great day.”

6Warner-0153The mild nervousness we felt at the beginning of the ride turned into a twinge of disappointment when it came to an end.

After we climbed down from our horses, the silence was broken as we talked over one another, sharing our favorite parts of the ride—a conversation that lasted well into the car and our lunch in Old Town Florence.

My son told me he was glad we went, and my daughter was proud of the confidence she’d gained.

The Warner family has checked another great Oregon adventure off its bucket list. We’re now adding it to our to-do again list (maybe a sunset ride next time?), because as Tyler’s grandfather used to say, “There’s nothing better than the view between a horse’s ears.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

For more horseback trails from the Coast to the Cascades, check out our trails page here.

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