Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery
By Mitch Wilde
Nestled in the heart of the Illinois Valley, near Cave Junction, Oregon lay one of Southern Oregon’s oldest vineyards—Bridgeview. Since Lelo Kerivan planted the first grapes in 1982, Bridgeview set out to create German varietals and a one-of-a-kind experience with their beautiful and welcoming vineyard. Bridgeview’s approach, from the beginning was to make the vineyard an extension of their family.
Rene Eichmann, the vice president, and head winemaker at Bridgeview recently took the reins at Bridgeview from hisfather, Lelo, who still lives on the property and keeps a watchful eye on his family’s creation. Rene recently made time with Grants Pass Magazine and discussed Bridgeview Vineyard past and present.
During our conversation, Rene stated that, “From the onset, the family wanted an old traditional winery that was anextension of who we are. Welcoming, memorable and an enjoyable experience for all.”
Rene went on to say, “Bridgeview went from bare hayfields to a large 50-acre vineyard of old vine grapes producing 80,000 cases of wine in the late 90s.” After Sept. 11, 2001, Bridgeview watched their sales take a dramatic dip as the world found itself in upheaval. Pivoting toward a conservative and deliberate approach moving forward, Bridgeview scaled back their sales team. Their goal—concentrate on a limited and methodical production. This allowed them to focus more on local & regional sales.
After their initial planting, they focused on their limited wine-making expertise deciding to go back to their German roots by convincing an old friend, Dieter Hemberger, to join their stateside endeavor. Their goal—learn as much as they could from Dieter during the initial productions of vino. Over the next decade, Dieter, along with several additional wine makers worked relentlessly to perfect the wine production until Rene found himself ready to take over during the last 15years. Over the ensuing decades they continue to fine-tune their processes and take special care of the vines. Rene finds himself busier than ever.
Marissa Tromler, Bridgeview’s office manager told us that, “In a single day you will see Rene go from being in the officemaking conference calls, in the winery making wine, setting up the next bottling run, dropping off wine, and even inBridgeview’s new kitchen preparing food for our customers to enjoy.”
Keeping things in the family Andy Eichmannn, Rene’s son plays an integral, and hands on role in Bridgeview’s day-to-dayactivities. Marissa went on to say “Andy is doing constant production testing on the wine in vats and barrels—monitoring each wine for the precise moment it needs to be put into barrels for example. At any given time, you walk into the winery, you will see Andy either on a forklift or with a headlamp, strapped tightly to his forehead, half way inside a steel vat 20 feet off the ground.”
Rounding out Bridgeview’s primary team, you’ll find Marissa Tromler. Marissa defines her role as, “Doing a little bit of everything at Bridgeview. I’m mostly in our office handling marketing and sales, holding meetings with our out-of-house sales reps, setting schedules, planning events as well as looking over our tasting room.”
Bridgeview found themselves on the national wine scene in 2013 with a Gold Medal win in the Texsom wine competition with pinot noir Blue Moon. Massive sales of their one-of-a-kind Blue Moon bottle filled with their Riesling captivated thousands with its unique bottle and liquid pleasure for the discernable palate. In their tasting room you will find aplethora of notably affordable wine options from, pinot gris, Riesling, pinot noir, merlot, semi-sparkling Riesling, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, this author’s favorite and many other blends, like a cab merlot are ready to be sampled.
Sitting on their large deck area, overlooking the beautifully manicured grounds and impressive pond you will see abeautiful pair of swans ease themselves effortlessly from the water onto the grass. Bass and bluegill move through the water with a casual purpose and if fortunate you’ll get a glimpse of an Osprey or two soaring overhead. As they continue to focus on how best to reinvigorate the tasting room options, they have considered opening up the grounds for events. Perhaps a phone call or two will help them make this decision sooner, rather than later.
Coming out the other side of the pandemic a poised Bridgeview is positioning their vineyard to recapture some of the glory-day magic that put them on the Southern Oregon wine map back in the 80s. The tasting room is open again andthey re-launched their wine club. One can join in person, by giving them a call, or going on to their website to sign up.
Another unique feature of Bridgeview’s beautiful and unique venue is the introduction of a gorgeous Airbnb option. A short flight of stairs outside the tasting room main entrance leads you to a stunning 2-bedroom facility with full bath, impressive kitchen, a large dining room table and an awe-inspiring fireplace with floor-to-ceiling stones. Accented with apicturesque overhead chandelier provides you with an ideal place to enjoy a fire and sip on your favorite Bridgeview wine. The dwelling has a king bedroom and a queen bedroom plus a couch large enough to sleep a single friend whowants to tag along. Once you are done tasting wine, perhaps visiting the caves or several other sightseeing options in the valley make yourself a nice dinner in the kitchen, or with the grill on the back deck. Shortly after dinner, some of you can relax in the hot tub, while others huddle around the fire pit while all of you enjoy the scenery that surrounds the pond and grapes. If you are interested in booking the room, head on over to BookStayHop for availability and rates.
Make time and take the short drive to Illinois Valley—only minutes from Cave Junction you’ll find yourself in a little bit of paradise. Bring your sunglasses or hat for the deck area, an appetite for some light kitchen fare and a thirst for quality wines. You will enjoy your time at Bridgeview Winery.