Everyone knows that the rolling valleys surrounding the city of Portland are home to numerous celebrated vineyards and wineries producing some of the Pacific Northwest's best reds and whites. It's wine country, after all, and it's not just a destination for day trippers, but for aficionados who travel from all corners of the country for a good glass of pinot.
What you might not know is that you can tour wine country right here in town, without even leaving the confines of the city. You could easily visit several urban wineries in a single day, and you can even do it by bike. In fact, you probably should.
Neighborhood Notes went on a tour of Portland's urban wineries, stopping at six of them to see what wines they think you'll like, and, should you buy a bottle for the bike ride home, we’ll tell you how you should pair it.
Who and Why: For Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas, the answer is simple: They wanted to open their winery in Portland because they love their hometown. Their winemaking location is ideal because it's close wine country and it's easy to get to for most Portlanders, the two say. Plus it keeps the pair in the city, where they are thrilled to be surrounded by so many great food options.
The Grapes: Willamette Valley
Recommended: A bottle of the Stewart, a Willamette Valley pinot noir, which they describe as "elegant and aromatic" with tobacco, nutmeg and dark berry notes.
Pair It: With a roasted Oregon king salmon. "You can't go wrong with Oregon pinot noir and Oregon salmon,” Pappas says.
When to Go: The tasting room is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Boedecker Cellars, 2621 NW 30th Ave., 503.866.0095
Seven Bridges Winery
Who and Why: Kevin and Jill Ross, alongside friend Bob Switzer, started making wine in the Ross' garage. What began as a hobby soon turned into a business. They wanted to experiment with blends, Switzer says, which meant increasing production. And since they couldn't drink all the wine they made, it made sense to sell it.
The Grapes: Oregon and Washington
Recommended: The 2009 Prima Nata blend, a Bordeaux-style red. The body of the wine changes each year, but, Switzer says, it's always well balanced with an "abundance of different flavors."
Pair It: Switzer says he would pair the Prima Nata with duck, pork tenderloin, steak, or pasta al pomodoro. Ultimately, though, because the wine stands up on its own, he says he'd simply pair it with a second glass.
When to Go: The tasting room is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday, and by appointment.
Seven Bridges Winery, 2303 N Harding Ave., 503.203.2583
Urban Wine Works
Who and Why: In 1988, Reuel Fish purchased a vineyard outside the city with the purpose of selling grapes to the region's wineries. Then, in 2000, he began bottling those grapes himself under the Bishop Creek Cellars imprint, bringing wine country, "without the drive," to the city.
The Grapes: Yamhill, Oregon
Recommended: Fish suggests a bottle of 2007 Barrel Select Pinot Noir, which has notes of blackberries, raspberries and earth.
Pair It: With truffle brie or a mushroom risotto.
When to Go: The tasting room is open noon to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
Urban Wine Works, 1315 NE Fremont St., 503.493.1366
Alchemy Wine Productions
Who and Why: Nic Donahue currently manages the bar at Tucci, an Italian spot in Lake Oswego, but he and his wife, Gracey, once worked for a commercial vineyard in California before moving to Portland and opening their own urban winery.
The Grapes: Southern Oregon
Recommended: The Edwin Dyer Syrah, which Donanue calls "balanced" and "fruity" with blackberry, blueberry, tobacco, and leather tasting notes.
Pair It: Burgers, steaks, lasagna or pizza.
When to Go: The tasting room is open noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment.
Alchemy Wine Productions, 3315 SE 19th Ave., 503.893.4659
Who and Why: Enso's Devon Duncan says her boss, Ryan Sharp, wants to provide Portlanders with not only a place to sample fine, locally produced wines, but also a tasting lounge, where you can enjoy your friends just as much as the wine. That's why Enso provides edibles from local establishments (Olympic Provisions, Little T American Baker, Xocolatl de David), and patrons can also have pizzas delivered or even bring in their own cheeses. Enso's even has a couple of Pacific Northwest beers on tap for those in your party who prefer hops.
The Grapes: Arcane Cellars in Salem
Recommended: Duncan suggests the Mourvèder, Sharp's "passion wine," a dry, medium-bodied red with smokey, earthy notes.
Pair It: Red meats or anything that comprises a traditional Thanksgiving spread.
When to Go: The tasting room is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
Enso Winery, 1416 SE Stark St., 503.683.ENSO
Hip Chicks do Wine
Who and Why: Hip Chicks Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely each studied winemaking and have both worked part-time jobs at a commercial vineyard in wine country. But the commute, Neely says, was killing them. That's when the pair decided it was time to open up their own winery right in the city.
The Grapes: Oregon and Washington
Recommended: Lewis recommends the Muscat, a surprisingly dry white with apricot, peach, honeysuckle, and grapefruit notes.
Pair It: When she's at home, Lewis pairs the Muscat with an apricot coin, which she describes as a dried apricot topped with chèvre and one candied walnut (candied with a little cayenne, for some heat), and drizzled with honey and fresh thyme.
When to Go: The tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week.
Hip Chick do Wine, 4510 SE 23rd Ave., 503.234.3790