Wine lovers heading to Willamette Valley will want to carve out time for a stop in Springfield, Oregon. Iris Vineyards, a winery with bright, fruit-forward wines and stunning views from its Chalice Vineyards, recently opened a wine bar on Springfield’s Main Street. The wine bar is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm. Visitors can stop in for a wine flight, a glass of wine, order by the bottle, or try one of the tasting room’s delightful wine cocktails.
Iris Vineyards Private Estate
Iris Vineyards private estate is located along the Territorial Highway in the Lorane Valley. Oregon natives Richard Boyle and Pamela Frye founded it. After exploring European wine regions early in their marriage, they returned to Oregon and purchased 870 acres of forest near King Estate.
The property had been clear-cut, exposing sloping hillsides. With promising soils, the property offered the tremendous potential for growing Burgundian varietals that Richard and Pamela discovered during their time in Europe. The soils are predominately Bellpine, along with some Jory and Dupee.
Richard and Pamela planted their Chalice Vineyard in 1996. They began the Iris Vineyard wine brand in 2001. Their vineyard spans 43 sweeping acres and features Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.
In addition to planting grapevines, Richard and Pamela committed to replanting 500 acres of the estate with Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine for harvesting. Their goal was to restore a diverse forest habitat, and today Richard continues to manage the area with special care.
Iris Vineyards embraces the Greek concept of areté in all aspects of its farming, winemaking, and hospitality. Arete’ means “the tireless striving to achieve one’s fullest potential,” a philosophy Richard first discovered at the University of Oregon. Richard studied The Iliad in a History of Ideas class. “It gave me words to describe a concept I’d believe in my whole life,” Richard says.
The Iris Vineyards Winemaker
Now Aaron Lieberman, Iris Vineyards’ winemaker since 2008, embraces the philosophy of areté in his life and winemaking. Aaron prefers to let nature guide the direction it wants to go in. He does this by collaborating with Chalice vineyard manager Arpad Walker to grow the best possible grapes. Once harvested, Aaron uses a light hand to produce bright, fruit-forward wines that reflect what nature provides from the Chalice Vineyard and other select vineyards in Oregon.
The Iris Vineyards Wine Bar
To discover just how unique Iris Vineyards’ wines are, guests can book a tasting at Iris’ newly opened wine bar at 322 Main Street in Springfield. The wine bar is housed in a historic building built in the 1860s. The Iris Vineyards Wine Bar joins a community of local restaurants, a craft brewery, distillery, and other shops and coffee houses that make Main Street a place to visit when in the Eugene and Springfield area.
This boutique wine bar offers a uniquely casual, comfortable place for guests to taste several of Iris Vineyard’s sparkling wines and some of the 13 still wines. But more importantly, the wine bar provides a sense of community. Locals and wine club members drop by for a wine tasting, a glass of wine, or one of the wine cocktails personally designed by winemaker Aaron. Just opened in June 2022, the wine bar is so popular in the neighborhood that nearly 80 locals have recently joined the winery’s wine club.
Music plays on weekends on the comfortable back patio of the tasting room. The vibe feels relaxed and friendly, while Iris’ Wine Bar Manager MJ Padilla and her staff provide the most attentive hospitality. In fact, MJ says, “Guests like coming here for the genuine, welcoming treatment they receive from the staff, as well as the wine, of course.”
Inside the cozy, inviting wine bar, guests can sit at the bar or nearby tables. The room also offers stools facing the exposed brick wall. There are even stools that line the window looking out on Springfield’s lovingly restored, historic Main Street. Covered seating on the back patio provides guests with an outdoor option in warm weather. Specialty cheese and charcuterie boards are available for purchase.
The wine bar is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 am – 8:00 pm. Reservations are available online.
The Iris Vineyards Wines
The areté philosophy even extends to the brand itself. The Areté label represents the best of the estate in its premium level or reserve line of wines. It includes Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir still wines and three sparkling wines made in the traditional champenoise method.
Aaron introduced what he calls the “sparkling project” to the lineup of Areté wines. He says, “Iris Vineyards is one of the most southern vineyards in Willamette Valley. The site is quite a bit cooler than other parts of the Willamette Valley. That is the impetus behind the sparkling wines.” Aaron shared that his father would give the children in the family a small glass of sparkling wine on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Because of this fond memory, he always wanted to make sparkling wine. He started with the Brut Rosé in 2015 and now produces four small production sparkling wines.
Under the Iris Vineyards label, the winery produces a range of red, white, and rose wines from the Chalice Estate Vineyard and other select vineyards from around Oregon. The winery also makes sparkling wine under the Iris Vineyards label. MJ says the House Call Red Blend is one of the most popular. But the Willamette Valley Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are also favorites.
While everything I tasted was delicious, I particularly enjoyed the 2019 Brut Rosé. The wine offers notes of strawberries and pomegranate and the 2018 GSM with layers of darker fruit and spicy notes.
Wine flights cost $12 per person, waived with a $60 purchase. It includes your choice of any three sparkling, white, or red wines on the menu. The wine flight also includes a complimentary taste of the 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2018 Quinta do Calice, a Port-style wine, or the 2019 Sweet Amalia, a delicate dessert wine.
If you go
Springfield’s Main Street offers a wide variety of lunch and dinner options. With later than usual operating hours, it’s easy to spend a full afternoon or evening wine tasting and dining in this delightful historic district. So make a stop, spend the night in Springfield, and check out the Iris Vineyards wine bar. You’ll feel right at home, and you’ll love their wines!