The Pacific Northwest is known for picturesque vineyards and intimate tasting rooms, but for one weekend every year the Willamette Valley goes big. With more than 170 vendors, including 80 wineries, the McMinnville Wine & Food Classic has grown in attendance over the years to 5,000 visitors and is hosted in one of the biggest venues in town, the Evergreen Space Museum. Here are just a few reasons to fly by this weekend.
Learn your wings
Taste the day away at food and wine booths but don’t forget to look up—history is in the air. In addition to food and wine, aircraft are cleared from the floor of the Evergreen Space Museum and vendors are interspersed among exhibits including the SR-71 Blackbird, the Titan II Missile and overhead rocket and spacecraft exhibits. “The venue itself is quite unique—I’ve poured at many events including SIP! but never at a more interesting place than an Aviation Museum,” said Carl Giavanti, an organizer for the event.
Buy fine wines
Akin to a state fair for foodies and oenophiles, guests can get a taste of wines from all over Oregon and Washington, purchased by the taste, glass, bottle or case. “People like it because it’s easy to buy wine and have it waiting in the concierge storage for pickup or drop off at their cars,” Giavanti said. Enhanced online shopping and social media make it easy for people to purchase wine, food and crafts while also interacting with the vintners, chefs and artisans. According to Giavanti, many wineries and vendors commit to their booths a year in advance, not only because it’s a great event to sell wine, but also because they get to know many of the same customers each year.
Give like a local
Established in 1993, SIP! started out as a fun event for wine and food enthusiasts and a benefit for the children of St. James Catholic School in McMinnville. The festival continues to be a major fundraiser for the St. James and is staffed every year by hundreds of families, staff and volunteers from the community. “It’s become somewhat of a family and friends reunion event,” said Giavanti. “The first night has become ‘Locals Night’ (the first 1000 attendees receive a free wine glass on Friday) and many McMinnville residents come out in support of the event and the school.
Sip! McMinnville Wine & Food Classic – March 10-12, Evergreen Space Museum, $20
For tickets, vendors and more information, visit sipclassic.org