The Bridges of Lane County: They Go Great with Local Wine!

Bridges of Lane County
Photo by Jackie McNeel.

By JACK McNEEL

Oregon has many wondrous places to visit and sights to see, including its numerous old, covered bridges. Seeing these bridges is like taking a step back in time. Modern technology has now eliminated construction of these bridges, which has added to their intrigue, and many folks travel to Oregon largely to view these old, unique bridges.

The largest concentration of bridges is located in the general vicinity of Eugene. When paired with the region’s wineries, it makes for a fabulously unique vacation.

Most people think of eastern states when discussing old covered bridges, largely because those states started building them long before the west was even settled.

Oregon’s oldest bridges date back to the 1800s.

The state was home to roughly 450 bridges at one time, the majority of which were built between 1905 and 1925. That number has dwindled to 54 today, still a significant number. Most are found midway down the state in Lane County, just south of Eugene.

We decided to stay at a motel in Cottage Grove as both covered bridges and wineries surround the town. With only one exception, all the bridges and wineries we visited were no more than a 15-minute drive from the motel.

My wife’s favorites were Currin Bridge, for its red and white coloration, and Dorena Bridge, for its windows. I was more drawn to Chambers Bridge, not only for its colors and openness but also for the beauty of the stream passing beneath it and vegetation. But that said, all were intriguing, and each had its unique aspects and history.

Cottage Grove is considered “the gateway to Oregon wine country.” Thirteen wineries lie within 45 minutes from town, and some are practically in town.

We first visited Saginaw Winery. This is a small winery in a beautiful setting. The visitor center is a small, older farm building. Inside, one may sample a variety of wines, and in an adjacent room can enjoy live music and dancing. The vineyards pretty much surround the visitor center with large trees farther back.

The Bridges of Lane County: They Go Great with Local Wine!

One of the largest, most beautiful wineries is the King Estate. If you’re visiting in the Cottage Grove area, this winery should definitely be on your to-do list. I first learned of it while at one of the covered bridges and chanced to strike up a conversation with a local. She promptly told me that I had to visit the King Estate, and how glad I am that we did that.

The winery is relatively new, having been established in 1991. It rests on a hillside, several miles north of Cottage Grove. The winery itself overlooks the massive vineyards, which cover over 1,000 acres. It’s known primarily for Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines.

Tours of the winery are almost overwhelming because of the size of the wine structures within and the quality throughout.

If you go, plan on having a meal at their restaurant. Not only is the food outstanding, the views down over the vineyard are spectacular with its panoramic backdrop of the Willmette Valley and outlying Cascade mountains.

In addition, they have 30 acres of orchards and gardens, the produce from which is incorporated into the restaurant’s meals. Their garden covers 18 acres and the orchard another 14 acres. If that weren’t enough, they also have their own on-site bakery.

And if you want to extend your vacation a bit, it’s only about 75 miles from Cottage Grove to the Pacific Coast. MSN

 

 

The Bridges of Lane County: They Go Great with Local Wine!