By Patrick Newson

Although the Oregon Wine L.A.B. has been a fixture of downtown Eugene’s urban winery community for more than a decade, new projects are in the air for this small company with big ideas. Since 2013, owner-operator Mark Nicholl has been producing, pressing, and blending wines at his winery on Lincoln Street, purchasing the grapes from around the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon each year. However, in a massively busy 2023, Nicholl not only got married and welcomed a child into the world, but also purchased a vineyard outside of Elkton and moved to the countryside with his wife, Michelle. This all fits with Nicholl’s long-term plan: one decade to develop a winery followed by one that’s all about growing grapes. 

William Rose Wines, the label under which all of Nicholl’s wines are produced, has been a tabula rasa for Oregon grapes since inception. The flexibility to make wines from over a dozen varieties and in several different methods has allowed for plenty of experimentation as well as opportunity to develop a house style. All that wine has emanated from the downtown winemaking facility, which also serves as a tasting room, wine bar, and event space. This wine lab has been a great place to enjoy an afternoon glass on the patio, grab a bite from the on-site food truck (currently Uumami Mediterranean Grill), or enjoy music, trivia, and dancing. The new location is markedly different: It’s a yurt. 

And housed in this yurt is a simple tasting room with a deck that looks out over the Umpqua River Valley, with fresh breezes, warm sun, and the smell of freshly mown grass. Formerly known as Anindor but renamed for the adjacent watershed, Haines Creek Vineyard is a 56-acre estate, seated in the recently established Elkton AVA, a cool-climate growing region. At present, 12 acres are under vine and the rest is meadows, forests, and buildings, including the tasting room, barns, domiciles, and a warehouse-type structure that “isn’t large enough for where we are now, but might be small enough for the future,” says Nicholl. “That’s the next 10-year plan, to be making wine on the vineyard.” 

The initial goal is to improve the soil health and management practices at Haines Creek by reevaluating pruning strategies and cover crops, and introducing livestock for increased fertility. There are similar plans for olive cultivation, along with increased areas for natural flora and fauna. “This is a newer-school thinking that we want to put more effort toward, and this is just the first step,” says Nicholl.

For the time being, all winemaking will be in Eugene proper, but the transition to new grapes and wines allows Nicholl to further develop a “sense of place” he seeks to exemplify and celebrate in each of the bottlings. The Wine L.A.B. (which stands for “local artisan brands”) will continue to operate as a community space, urban winery, and tasting room, now bursting with energy thanks to the influx of new staff members. But the new opportunity for vineyard-based wines is an exciting endeavor for the Nicholl family, and they welcome you to come down for an afternoon visit to explore the viticultural bounty of Elkton. 

Oregon wine L.A.B & William Rose Wines, 488 Lincoln St., 458/201-7413,

Haines Creek Vineyard,