For anyone who enjoys trying a wide range of wines during a tasting room visit, Nehalem Bay Winery on the Oregon coast is a must-stop.
In addition to traditional vinifera wines, Nehalem Bay makes sweet dessert wines, fruit wines and even mead.
Nehalem Bay Winery was founded shortly after Patrick McCoy became fascinated by the then-infant winemaking industry in Oregon. McCoy was traveling on the northern Oregon coast when he discovered an old, abandoned creamery, known as the Mohler Creamery — which had been a part of the Tillamook Creamery Co-op… producing cheese, milk and butter… from 1909 to 1959.
Just as artists see beauty in everyday things, McCoy looked at the old, decrepit building and saw the potential for a winery in its place.
McCoy’s first foray into winemaking resulted in a blackberry wine, made on April 1, 1974. The blackberry wine remains a favorite with winery visitors today. One by one, he added other wines and started working on and renovating the building.
In 1991, Ray Shackelford met McCoy and an instant friendship was struck — as well as an instant business relationship. Shackelford bought controlling interest in the business, and when McCoy died in 1993, he bought the entire operation, including the name and the real estate.
Shackelford, with experience in sales, the military, real estate and a life of adventure, brought new energy and enthusiasm to the winery. Today, the old Nehalem Bay Winery has been totally remodeled while retaining and enhancing its original charm.
There’s a large room for weddings, parties and other events, as well as a “Theatre Au Vin” for showcasing the performing arts. Visual arts events are now held at the winery, as well as great reggae, blues and bluegrass concerts. Visitors also are encouraged to enjoy the picnic tables, where they can soak in vistas of the Coast Range and Onion Peak.
Meanwhile, Shackelford continues his life of adventure and, at the same time, his commitment to making life better for those not so fortunate.
He volunteered with the Red Cross in Texas and the Salvation Army in New Orleans in 2005, helping victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In Cambodia, he started an orphanage, and in 2005 implemented a sewing project for ethnic minorities in Mondulkiri Province — a way of transforming his war experiences with the people of this area into something positive.
In the Philippines, 15 students are in college, high school or graduated and working because of Shackelford’s efforts.
Because of all his philanthropic involvements, Shackelford isn’t always at the winery to greet guests. However, he has an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff that’s happy to share samples of the Nehalem Bay wines.
At present, the extensive lineup runs the gamut of styles. Experienced wine drinkers will want to try the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, White Riesling and Marechal Foch. Those less familiar with wine, or perhaps possessing a sweet tooth, will be drawn to the Valley Peach, Plum, Rhubarb and Blackberry wines.
The winery also makes a bottling called Cranpere, which is White Riesling blended with cranberry. During the holiday season, White Riesling, cranberry and spices are blended to make a wine called Santa’s Elixir.
But one needn’t wait until Christmastime to visit Nehalem Bay Winery. In fact, given the unpredictable weather along the Oregon coast, it’s probably best to venture there during the warmer months. The warmth of the sun will be matched by the warmth of the Nehalem Bay staff.
Nehalem Bay Winery
34965 Highway 53