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McMINNVILLE, Ore. — Next month, organizers of the Sip McMinnville Wine and Food Classic will celebrate the silver anniversary of a festival that’s outgrown the local armory and spent the past decade at the acclaimed Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.
The weekend-long Sip McMinnville Wine and Food Classic runs March 9-11 as a benefit for St. James School in McMinnville and a showcase for Oregon wineries such as Abacela, Armonéa, Cathedral Ridge, David Hill, Denison Cellars, Girardet, Lenné Estate, Melrose Vineyards, Methven Family Vineyards & Winery, Patton Valley Vineyard, Paul O’Brien, Rallison Cellars, Spangler Vineyards, Tertulia Cellars, Troon Vineyard, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Yamhill Valley Vineyards and Zerba Cellars.
“I’ve been at the McMinnville event ever since I’ve been winemaking, starting in 2005, so I guess this will be my 14th time,” Pat Spangler said. “If I wasn’t a winemaker, this is one of the those that I would actually go to as a consumer. One of the most fun things about it is that you walk around the museum and take a look at the exhibits while you are tasting wine.”
Total attendance for the weekend of Sip McMinnville averages between 6,000 and 7,000 during the three days. The 170 producers of Oregon craft beverages, food and art set up their booths among the jets, missiles and artifacts from space missions. Organizers boast that more than half of their attendees are repeat patrons, who help support the small Catholic school founded in 1906.
“Everything about the event is centered upon having fun, and the venue is what really sets SIP apart,” co-chair Jon Johnson wrote in a news release.
Sip McMinnville welcomes 70 NW wineries
Many of the event’s top wines will be spotlighted as part of the Sip McMinnville Wine Competition, which refreshed its judging panel. More than 25 food vendors, 18 artisans, six distilleries and principals from 70 wineries throughout Oregon will participate. Three of those wineries operate both tasting rooms and estate vineyards in the prestigious Walla Walla Valley — Tertulia Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyards and Zerba Cellars.
“There were 28 wineries back when I started, when it was in the field house at Linfield College,” said Spangler, whose winery is in the Umpqua Valley city of Roseburg. “Now they are getting big crowds. They are doing a pretty good job, and I would say it’s one of the top four of its kind in Oregon with the Portland Seafood and Wine Festival, Newport and Astoria.”
The Sip McMinnville committee has set up a retail system that allows patrons to order and purchase items without needing to carry them around the Evergreen Space Museum. A valet counter consolidates those purchases and also can provide help with taking the items to vehicles. That service allows guests to better enjoy their drink with fresh oysters, crab and shrimp melts, barbecue, German grilled specialties, tamales and more. All food vendors go through a jury process at Sip McMinnville, where local artisans sell jewelry, art and furniture. Live local musicians will perform all three days.
Proceeds from the 2017 event amounted to 12 percent of the St. James School operating budget — about $1,000 per student.
“It’s incredible that what started 25 years ago as a small volunteer effort to help the local school has turned into a wine lover’s bucket list destination that supports not just the school, but the entire community in a big way,” SIP McMinnville founder Steve Bernards said.
Single-day tickets cost $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and designated drivers. After entry, patrons pay for each tasting or food item on an individual basis. Parking is free, but there also is VIP parking available, as well as shuttle service from Portland and McMinnville.
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