MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE – Polk County’s Willamette River Communities
This tour will roam the historic downtowns of Monmouth and Independence, stop at the state-of-the-art Independence Civic Center, visit the Rogue Farms Micro Hopyard for beer tasting, see the sights of Western Oregon University and conclude with wine tasting at Left Coast Cellars courtesy of the Mid-Valley Wine Trail wineries.
The bus will leave the Salem Grand Hotel at approximately 12:00 pm and head to Independence. On the way, Independence City Councilor Marilyn Morton will describe the history of Independence and offer anecdotes and spooky stories gleaned from her decade of experience as a "ghost host" during Independence's annual downtown Ghost Walk.
Stop 1: Downtown Independence
The bus will do a slow roll through downtown Independence so participants can get a good look at the 19th Century architecture, performing arts amphitheater, and streetscape enhancements. Mrs. Morton will briefly describe the community's efforts at revitalizing the downtown using community planning processes, facade improvement grants, revolving loans and establishment of an Urban Renewal District.
Stop 2: Independence Civic Center
- Completed in January 2011 and designed to serve the community for the next 50 years.
- Houses both City Hall and the Police Department and wired with high-speed fiber from locally-owned MINET Telecommunications.
- Many sustainable features including solar panels, efficient lighting, and stormwater runoff into tree wells and planter boxes.
- Houses a 4,300 sq. ft. event center in the lower level which can accommodate up to 200 people. The event center provides business for local caterers and is a tool for recruitment of a hotel.
- Third floor houses community development, building department and economic development, and is designed for ease of interaction with the public.
Stop 3: Chatoe Rogue Hopyard
- Located on a historic hopyard where hops have been farmed for decades.
- Rogue leases 40 acres for their hops which are used in their Chatoe Rogue line of all Oregon beers. The barley is grown in the Tigh Valley.
- Site features a tasting room, historic farmhouse (yes you can rent a room for the night), lots of lawn space with lawn games, and all the picking, sorting, drying, and baling machinery needed to grow and package hops.
- This trip features a video tour of the facilities as well as samples of Rogue's beers.
Stop 4: Downtown Monmouth
- Historic downtown that has seen a substantial resurgence over the last few years
- Façade Grant Program has generated $265,000 in building front upgrades
Current downtown improvement projects include:
o $750,000 streetscape project
o $491,000 in waterline improvements
o $170,000 new fountain and splash play area in Main St. Park
o Master Plan for new Main St. Park amphitheater
Stop 5: Western Oregon University
- Home to 6,500 students, primarily undergraduate but the University does offer graduate programs and is known for its education department.
- Founded in 1860's with lots of beautiful historic buildings remaining on campus.
- Continuing to grow and progress - recently built a new dorm, recreation center and are starting work on a third buidling.
Stop 6: Left Coast Cellars
- In the US, Oregon ranks third in the number of wineries and fourth in wine production. Oregon’s producers average only 5,000 cases a year
- This tour features wineries with both small and large productions who are members of the Mid-Valley Wine Trail.
- Everyone’s goal is to craft outstanding wines; some focus on exclusively estate-grown bottlings, while the big producers include some of Oregon’s largest. Most importantly, each member revels in their uniqueness.
- “Powered by the sun” is the rallying cry at Left Coast Cellars, where 83 kW of solar arrays providing most of the energy needs for the tasting room and estate-sourced café, nestled between flower gardens and a stand of old growth white oak trees.
- Neighbor Johan Vineyards is certified both organic and Biodynamic®.
- Van Duzer Vineyards offers sweeping Willamette Valley views from their patio
- Namaste Vineyards hosts weddings and other events in their Zen garden amphitheater.
- Eola Hills offers more than 20 wines for sampling, along with a popular Sunday Brunch.
- Firesteed’s tasting room offers an interesting perspective on their in-house bottling line, along with views of their barrel room.
- A new patio area and a wide variety of gifts greet visitors to Chateau Bianca, conveniently located in the foothills of the coastal range for beach visitors.
- This tour will feature tastings from all the listed wineries, and their websites can be found in the links below. Enjoy!
Last Stop: Back to Salem
The fun has to end eventually, but this trip will be a great way to get to know a beautiful but lesser-known part of the Willamette Valley and a good warm-up for the rest of the evening's activities.