Mark your calendars! March 21 is the 50th Anniversary of the Greatest of the Grape and we welcome all of you to attend this grand gala event.

This year’s theme, “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” sets the stage for a night out that won’t disappoint. The Greatest of the Grape is a celebration of the best of the Umpqua, in both food and wine. There will be 14 of our best local restaurants paired with two wineries each, creating culinary pairings to complement the wines offered. All of the 28 winery participants are of the Umpqua Valley and will pouring the best of their offerings.

In addition to wine, food, live music and dancing, we will have a silent auction benefitting our non-profit Umpqua Valley Wineries Association and the “Wheel of Wine” that supports scholarships for UCC students enrolled in the Southern Oregon Wine Institute program, so stock up!

As President of the UVWA and owner/winemaker at Brandborg for the last 18 years, it has been an exciting time to be part of this industry and I want to share some of our important history. The Umpqua Valley has been growing vitis vinifera grapes, the Old World wine grape varieties, since 1934, making our region the oldest continuously producing wine region in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1961, Richard Somers of Hillcrest Winery was the first to plant pinot noir, which has grown to become the signature grape of Oregon, with the largest production and acreage of all grape varieties in Oregon.

In 1969, the early Umpqua pioneers established the first Oregon wine trade organization to promote and advocate for the growth of their fledgling industries. This organization, supported by member’s dues, has now grown into the statewide Oregon Winegrowers Association, which serves the entire state in support of our legal needs and legislative advocacy.

These same pioneers started the first wine and food celebration in the Pacific Northwest in 1968, which has now grown into our present day Greatest of the Grape. Lots of Firsts! We are proud of these accomplishments over the years and would like to share and have you enjoy the fruits of our labors with us.

For 30 years the event was held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, then took a slight departure, but we are back to the tradition where we started. We are extremely excited to be back at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, and know you will be too!

The UVWA is a not for profit trade organization whose mission is to promote our members vineyard and winery businesses. Members pay dues, and our work is supplemented by our two signature events, Greatest of the Grape and Barrel Tour. The Umpqua Valley has grown to be a world-renown wine region and tourist destination. The UVWA is proud to have been a strong advocate for our wineries, and for all businesses that benefit from this increased awareness.

The wine industry now brings in more than $107 million in revenue to Douglas County every year.

Andrew Calvert, our event planner, will transform Douglas Hall into a Grand Ballroom. Design Band from Portland will be rocking all night long. We have worked with our lodging community to establish a shuttle service to and from the event. We are asking our local establishments to stay open late to keep the party going. We want to put “heads in beds” for our local lodging establishments.

So, to provide our guests with a new activity on Sunday, Craft 22 in downtown Roseburg will be hosting a fabulous champagne brunch with live entertainment starting at 11 a.m. Thank you to all of our community volunteers that donate their time to make this event happen, to showcase our wineries and restaurants for your fun and enjoyment.

Because it is our Golden Anniversary, we ask that you pull out your formal or semi-formal wear. See you there! “Puttin’ on the Ritz”

To purchase tickets, visit www.umpquavalleywineries.org/events or call Jean Kurtz at 541-673-5323

Terry Brandborg is president of the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers. Find out more at www.umpquavalleywineries.org.

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