EV Tourism Expands to Oregon Wine Country

Do you love wine tasting? Do you care about sustainability? Then you’ll want to raise a glass to this — the Plug & Pinot EV Tourism Program. Born out of the realization that a number of Oregon wine country businesses already had electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, but no network to connect them, the program was created to show that Oregon’s Wine Country is accessible for EV drivers, and a great way to experience it.

Extending from Gaston to Dundee, from Dayton to Salem, and all the way to the town of Elkton, several of the program’s members were among the first wineries to plant vines in the Willamette Valley over 40 years ago. It is only appropriate that Oregon’s wine pioneers are now spearheading this new, sustainable method of tourism. The Plug & Pinot program, a sustainable tourism initiative through Travel Oregon, illustrates that a full day trip through Oregon’s Wine Country can be made in an EV — and that touring the beautiful countryside in a clean, quiet, pollution-free EV brings new fun to an already treasured Oregon weekend pastime.

Winderlea Vineyard and Winery is a participating partner in the Plug & Pinot Program: “For us, the reason to put EV chargers in is because people aren’t going to buy electric vehicles until the infrastructure is in place,” says Winderlea owner and Oregon Environmental Council member, Bill Sweat. “The more business owners who help create the infrastructure, the more people will be willing to buy.”

His statement not only rings true for business in the Plug & Pinot program, but for those all across Oregon. In the same way Oregon once helped build the market for hybrid cars, rooftop solar, and other clean technologies, we now have the opportunity to lead the market for clean electric vehicles.

“EV chargers are a demonstration project,” Bill says. “Part of the value they bring is that they’re visible. It’s just like when hybrids first went on the market — they’re different than a conventional vehicle and you knew it was a hybrid. The more you saw them on the road, the more normal hybrids became to the average consumer. Now we need to cultivate that same awareness with electric vehicle technology. If more and more people drive and see EV chargers wherever they go, they’ll feel more comfortable buying an electric car. We’re doing our part to add that visibility.”

Electric vehicles will also be key to meeting our state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals — another reason why incentivizing the electrification of Oregon’s transportation sector is not just a noble ambition, but a necessary one. Oregon’s scenic beauty and tourist destinations also attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and Oregonians rely on this tourism industry to bring in millions annually to support local communities. Investing in a reliable, sustainable transportation system that safely and expediently transports visitors to every beautiful corner of our state, will continue to rank Oregon high on the list of “top” destinations.

As the Oregon Legislature works to develop a comprehensive transportation package, electric vehicles should be at the forefront of the discussion. Business owners like Bill Sweat are committed to doing their part, and the Oregon Legislature can help make it easier for more businesses to do the right thing by prioritizing electric vehicles in the transportation package.

KGW reporter and host of the weekend special “Grant’s Getaways” was intrigued by the concept of utilizing an EV for a fun day to explore Oregon Wine Country, so he decided to check out the Plug & Pinot Program for himself. He rented a BMW i3 to see just how easy it is to experience the electrified version of Oregon Wine Country, and sat down with Winderlea’s Bill Sweat to learn more about the Plug & Pinot Program. You can check out the interview on an upcoming episode of Grant’s Getaways on KGW, which airs Saturdays at 7:30pm.

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2 Replies to "EV Tourism Expands to Oregon Wine Country"

  • Erik H.
    May 6, 2017 (6:15 pm)

    Why ANY organization should combine alcohol and being behing the wheel of ANY motorized vehicle is repulsive. OEC should be asking why there is insufficient bus service in this area; not encouraging people with a measurable blood alcohol content to litter shreds of metal and hazardous chemicals on our roadways, along with biohazards.

    • Devon Downeysmith
      May 7, 2017 (4:47 pm)

      Hi Erik, Thanks for reaching out. We would hope and expect that EV drivers would exhibit the same personal responsibility as others to not drive intoxicated. Whether that means a group has a designated driver or chooses to stay within a small limit of consumption while tasting is up to them, but anyone driving any vehicle – regardless of type – should exhibit personal responsibility on their journey. Buses are a great idea too, and we do champion the expansion of buses in wine country and elsewhere. Tour buses or other group tours of wine country by company are indeed a great way to see wine country for those wanting to let loose and enjoy the full affects of their tasting.