Grants Getaways: Sustainable Wine Country
This week, I get away from city hubbub to travel across Willamette Valley wine country but this trip offers a difference. I have traded in my gas-powered vehicle to discover that “EV,” or Electric Vehicle travel is easy, reliable and now – there’s no reason to worry about running out of juice.
My adventure begins on “Electric Avenue” (SW 2nd and Salmon) in Portland.
Alan Bates with ReachNow, a BMW ride share company, puts folks in touch with the “I” series of BMW Electric Vehicles.
“Using our ReachNow app allows you to pick up a car anywhere on the street,” noted Bates. “You go up to it, unlock the car and drive it anywhere you want. For charging, you simply find a station, take the line off the pedestal and plug it in to the car.”
The BMW “I” is unique – made of carbon fiber, it boasts a 170-mile driving range.
“This is about sustainability,” added Bates. “Much of our electric power comes from hydro and the fact that we can put electric power in these cars, drive them and really make a cleaner ecosystem, it’s a beautiful story.”
The beauty of ReachNow is their partnership with a new Oregon project called “Plug + Pinot.”
20 Oregon wineries, like Winderlea Winery near Dundee, have provided charging stations that you can connect to and, while you wait, sample the wine.
“You plug in and charge up while you are out wine tasting,” said P+P spokesperson Reid Oliver. “By bringing those two things together we have created a network of electric vehicle charging stations in Oregon’s wine country.”
Winderlea Wines is known for their Pinot Noir wines, but they were also the first Oregon winery to sign up for the P+P Project that’s also supported by the Travel Oregon Forever Fund.
Winery owner Bill Sweat said that Winderlea Wines already relies on solar panels for their operations, plus they use no chemicals on their land, vines or grapes, so the EV charging station “simply made sense.”
“The fact that you can do it without adding to the carbon footprint is brilliant,” added Sweat. “We are always happy when we see the EVs in the parking lot.”
The EV ride is quiet and smooth and as I rolled into Brooks Winery near Amity. My timing couldn’t have been better for it was bottling day for Brook’s Pinot Noir.
Brooks Winery spokesperson, Gerry Rasch, leads Vino Visits aboard an ATV. He said that the tours are for the curious who want to learn where the wine comes from and how the grapes are grown. He added that Brooks Winery uses no chemicals on their vineyards and that they plant a crimson clover cover crop that – when tilled under - adds nitrogen to the soil.
“We want people to get outdoors and see us," he said, "We want folks to visit wine country and see what’s happening here and if they travel by electric vehicles all the better. EVs are clean transportation and it’s a pleasure for us to offer our visitors the charging service.”
My Plug + Pinot journey wrapped up at a well-known, family-owned vineyard tucked into the coast range hills of Washington County.
Nearly 50 years ago, it was a Campbell family “all-hands-on deck” affair when Joe Campbell, his wife and their kids planted the first wine grapes at Elk Cove Vineyards.
Daughter, Anna Campbell, said that their organic farming techniques, solar-powered electricity and recycling programs are all fine examples of walking the talk of sustainability.
“We are farmers first,” said the proud daughter. “We love wine and it’s just amazing that it allows us to farm and really be the stewards of our land that – we hope - will last for 100 years plus.”
It’s a farming heritage to be sure and like all the stops in this adventure, one you can touch anytime and feel right at home in an EV too.
On a related note, Travel Oregon recently developed a map of the state to represent the six Oregon Electric Byways. These maps will be available in all state welcome centers and Travel Oregon’s website OregonElectricByways.com.
For the most up-to-date information about EV charging stations around Oregon, download the PlugShare app. This online resource provides real-time detail about station locations and services as well as trip planning features.