It’s always nice to get away from the city hub-bub for a trip across Willamette Valley wine country, but this particular trip was extra special.
I traded in my gas-powered car for an electric vehicle and discovered that EV travel is easy, reliable and there’s no reason to worry about running out of juice in the Willamette Valley.
My adventure began on Electric Avenue (SW 2nd and Salmon) in downtown Portland. Joining me was Alan Bates, market manager at ReachNow, a car-sharing company that rents out BMW i-series 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 vehicles are unique. They are made of carbon fiber and boast 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.
Twenty Oregon wineries along the route, like Winderlea Winery near Dundee, have EV charging stations. So while you wait for a charge, sip some award-winning Oregon wine.
“You plug in and charge up while you are out wine tasting,” said Plug + Pinot 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 is known for pinot noir, but it’s also the first Oregon winery to sign up for the P+P Project that’s also supported by the Travel Oregon Forever Fund.
Owner Bill Sweat said Winderlea 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 was quiet and smooth and as I rolled into Brooks Winery near Amity. And my timing couldn’t have been better for it was bottling day for Brooks’ pinot noir.
Brooks Winery spokesperson Gerry Rasch leads Vino Visits aboard an ATV. He said the tours are for curious folks 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 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. EV’s 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 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 Campbell. “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 visit anytime with an electric vehicle.
The folks at Plug + Pinot developed this map to highlight the EV charging stations that are in the Willamette Valley.
Travel Oregon also 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 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.