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Hometown Pride: Mike Duncan talks adult beverages

by mike

I like living in Eugene Oregon because…we make our own beer and wine!

Eugene is a very unique place to live for a lot of reasons. I moved here in 1993 from Indiana and never looked back. There’s a lot to love about our town, but one of my favorite aspects of living in the area is the vibrant and dynamic brewing and winemaking industry that calls the Willamette Valley home. It’s an essential part of our local culture. And it has an equally important impact on our local economy, as the Oregon beer and wine industry contributed $1.5 billion to our state economy last year and provided jobs for nearly 9,000 Oregonians.

For most of my adult life, “micro-brew” referred to the size of the glass and most wine came in cardboard boxes. That changed pretty quickly after I arrived in Eugene. In short order, I discovered that our town had several amazing brew pubs with devoted local followings. Pubs such as Steelhead and McMenamin’s High Street Café enjoyed fiercely loyal customers for a wide range of unique beers made with ingredients foreign to my Midwestern pallet. The first time that a waitress served me a beer garnished with an orange wedge, I knew this was not my father’s Pabst Blue Ribbon.

(Photo Credit: This is our project manager Kristen and her husband Cam who works at Oakshire Brewing Co.!)
Since then, the industry has grown considerably. Eugene is now home to nationally-known breweries that include Ninkasi, Oakshire and Hop Valley. And these companies are great community members, revitalizing their local neighborhoods, creating new jobs, and hosting incredible events such as the Whitaker Block Party and the Eugene Celebration.

I’m ashamed to admit that I lived in Eugene for a few years before someone finally asked me if I wanted to go wine tasting. The thought had never occurred to me. In fact, it never even occurred to me that we made wine here! And as it turns out, we make A LOT of wine here. In 1970, the Willamette Valley was home to 3 wineries. Today, that number has grown to over 300 wineries growing over 14,000 acres of grapes. Best known for “technical” winemaking – specifically Pinot Noir – wineries such as King’s Estate, Sweet Cheeks and Noble Estates dot the landscape throughout the valley.

On a warm Saturday afternoon, nothing beats wine tasting in Eugene. I can go 15 minutes from my house and enjoy countryside so beautiful that it’s somewhat humbling. Better yet, I get to sip world-renown wine while I take in the scenery. More often than not, it’s served by the very people who grew the grapes and made the wine. Interestingly, they always seem happy, and they truly love their wine…

I guess there are some things we share in common with northern California after all.


Mike Duncan is the newest member of Palo Alto Software’s sales team. When he’s not helping customers, you’ll typically find him bicycling, sailing, or hosting his weekly radio show on KWVA, 88.1 fm in Eugene.