Everything you need to know about your local wineries, including hours, directions and drink picks.
1. Boedecker Cellars
2621 NW 30th Ave., 224-5778, boedeckercellars.com.
It’s not called “crush” at Boedecker Cellars. Yes, the Portland winery spends the month of October managing a warehouse of white crates brimming with freshly plucked fruit. But they’re not smashing anything. “We don’t crush the grapes,” says Athena Pappas, who, along with husband Stewart Boedecker, runs the largest winery inside city limits. “We’re gentle with them, which is how you make beautiful pinot noir.”
In October, fresh fruit arrives at Portland’s burgeoning collection of urban wineries from around Oregon. At Boedecker, the little purple orbs are de-stemmed but remain whole, the juice inside the berry starting to ferment. The grapes get a little help from a hand-powered stainless-steel punchdown tool, but they’re mostly left to rest as the yeast on their skins turns sugar into alcohol. Peel back the plastic covering the white fermentation crates to inhale the pungent scent of moldering grapes, and you’ll wonder if you should drive.
Back in 2008, Boedecker moved from Yamhill County to the same Northwest Portland industrial park that gives us MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale. They now do 8,500 cases a year split between 14 different labels, including eight separate pinot noirs. On a whiteboard in their warehouse, the Boedeckers have magnetic squares to track every fermenter, which hold fruit from different blocks that remains separate through final blending. This way, they say, they can assemble each blend like a jigsaw puzzle, picking out the characteristics that will work well together. “People say ‘You’re crazy, we just do a big field blend,’” says Athena. “We like to do it this way, though they get vacations.”
Tasting room open 1-5 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Drink: You can get a tasting flight for $10 at the winery. See if you can discern a substantial difference from the Athena and Stewart blends ($34 per bottle).
Get there: The neighborhoods south of Northwest Nicolai Street are bike-friendly but racks are scarce and trucks carrying sharp things roam the streets. The No. 77 bus line which stops at Hollywood Transit Center, Rose Quarter Transit Center and along the Lovejoy streetcar line, will drop you off on Nicolai Street, a 5-minute walk from the winery.
Nearby: Portland Brewing, Northwest 23rd Avenue.
2. Bow and Arrow
Fast-growing Bow and Arrow recently moved from the Southeast Wine Collective into its own neon-lit cavern in the basement of a still-under-construction office building in the Kerns neighborhood. Owner-winemaker Scott Frank plans to grow Bow and Arrow into a production winery producing 5,000 cases per year. He does not, however, plan to operate a full-scale tasting room: “I want to make wine, man, I don’t want to sell fleece vests.”
Bow and Arrow exclusively makes cool-climate wines with fruit from the Willamette Valley. The flagship wine is a gamay noir ($19) but Frank is very excited about his fresh, fruity gamay nouveau. The “gluggable” young red resting right now in a steel tower on the edge of the room, will be released on Nov. 21, only five weeks after it was harvested. Look for the gamay nouveau and everything else from the Bow and Arrow line at the Woodsman Market (4529 SE Division St.) or grab a glass at Olympic Provisions East (107 SE Washington St.) or Southeast Wine Collective. The finished Bindery building will likely house a wine shop and restaurant, which Frank hopes will carry his wine. “I used to work in wine retail and I have a lot of respect for them,” he says. “I don’t want to compete with them.”
Open by appointment only.
Drink: Gamay noir ($19) or gamay nouveau if its available.
Get there: The No. 12 bus line that runs up Northeast Sandy Boulevard from downtown, will drop you off right outside. The Hollywood Transit Center is a 15-minute walk. The Southeast Ankeny Street bike corridor is 10 blocks south.
Nearby: Tonic Lounge, The Ocean food court, Hale Pele tiki bar.
3. Clay Pigeon Winery
815 SE Oak St., 206-8117, claypigeonwinery.com.
Clay Pigeon is a young winery with a buttoned-up tasting room called Cyril’s. Behind the massive picture windows facing busy Southeast Sandy Boulevard, you’ll find water served in Pyrex beakers, a refrigerated cheese case, speakers playing Bon Iver and wine from Italy, France, Spain and Portland by the bottle or glass. On our visit, the still-new Clay Pigeon was only pouring one of its own wines. Of the guest bottles, the most expensive was a $136 1994 Tondonia Gran Reserva and the least-expensive local bottle was the $30 muscat from Hip Chicks do Wine. A room of barrels and hoses is visible behind a glass door, but feels very distant.
Tasting room open 11:30 am-4 pm Monday, 11:30 am-9 pm Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 am-10 pm Friday, 4-10 pm Saturday.
Drink: Alchemy 2012 Edwin Dyer viognier ($35 at Clay Pigeon, $18 from Alchemy). The husband-wife team behind Alchemy, one of Portland’s best urban wineries, is abandoning their space near Hip Chicks and relocating to California within the next month. They make very good wine, and Clay Pigeon carries a lot of it.
Get there: The streetcar runs down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, three block west. The Southeast Ankeny Street bike corridor is just three blocks north.
Nearby: Enso winery and Sauvage.
4. Enso Winery
1416 SE Stark Street, 683-3676, ensowinery.com.
Enso has matured very nicely. When it opened nearly two years ago, this former garage was a little too gritty, with tinny speakers, visible orange extension cords and some decent drops. Today, it’s both a showcase for everything Portland’s urban wineries can become and the one such spot every red-toothed Portlander should make a point of hitting.
The speakers are better now, even if they’re also playing Bon Iver. It’s a warm room with friendly, laid-back service and Pacific Pie Company pasties in the toaster oven. Grab a seat on the church-pew benches or cozy couch and order a cheese plate curated by Cheese Bar’s Steve Jones ($9-15). Keep an eye out for winemaker Ryan Sharp, who on our visit was walking around in stained Carhartt overalls with a pint of beer in his hand.
A budget housemade white is only $5 per glass, with a housemade red at $6. You’ll pay double that for the jammy, aromatic 2011 zinfandel, but it’s worth it. Enso pours wines from seven other Portland wineries, most by the glass ($9-10), and does a daily tasting flight for $10. You just might want to see what they have the following day, too.
Tasting room open 4-10 pm Monday through Friday, 2-10 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Drink: Tasting flight ($10) or Enso zinfandel ($28 per bottle).
Get there: From downtown, you can take the No. 12 bus east on Burnside Street and then walk a few blocks south to Southeast Stark Street. The Southeast Ankeny bike corridor is a few blocks north and the 16th Avenue bike corridor is two block east.
5. Fausse Piste
537 SE Ash St., No. 102, 971-258-5829, sauvagepdx.com.
Sauvage, Buckman’s little French bistro and wine bar, offers 50 wines by the glass. A few of those are made in the back room. Under the Fausse Piste label (which means “wrong track” in French), Sauvage makes a handful of Rhone styles including viognier, roussanne and syrah. In one corner, stuffed waterfowl perch on a stack of barrels. In another is the door to the barrel room. There’s a bar to sit at if you’re drinking and not dining. A flight of three Fausse Piste wines in generous 2.5-ounce pours is $14. The best from our round was the 2011 “Vegetable and Lamb” pinot noir.
Sauvage is open 5-10 pm Tuesday through Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday and Saturday.
Drink: Vegetable and Lamb pinot noir ($10 per glass, $40 per bottle).
Get there: You’re just blocks from East Burnside Street’s bus lines and the streetcar on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
6. Hip Chicks Do Wine
4510 SE 23rd Avenue, 234-3790, hipchicksdowine.com.
Southeast Portland’s Hip Chicks do Wine layers unique business models. First, there’s the variety of grapes Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely work with, including pinot noir, muscat and malbec from Oregon and Washington. Then, there’s the fact that about 90 percent of their 2,500 cases is sold directly to the end consumer, much of it at regional wine festivals where a sexy label moves units. Opened in the rugged industrial district east of the Brooklyn rail yard in August 2001, Hip Chicks is the oldest of Portland’s urban wineries. The tasting room is a homey corner of their warehouse, with cheese plates and shelves full of giftable accessories.
Tasting room open from 11 am-6 pm daily.
Drink: Drop Dead Red ($24) a big, bawdy blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc that checks in at 15 percent alcohol by volume.
Get there: There are lots of bike-friendly streets around Reed College just 10 blocks south, but it’s probably wiser to draw straws and make someone drive to this one. Follow the directions carefully.
7. Jan-Marc Wine Cellars
2110 N Ainsworth St., 341-4531, janmarcwinecellars.com.
Jan-Marc Baker’s cellar is actually the garage of his Overlook neighborhood home. In the driveway last weekend sat a Penske rental truck full of grapes and a big red-funnel topped de-stemming machine. Just inside the garage door was a box of Riedel glasses and a tin of cracker sticks. It’s a unique arrangement for this 4-year-old winery, which now makes about 1,000 cases per year.
Before opening his in-home winery, Jan-Marc and his wife Barbara, who both work as private chefs, had to canvass their neighborhood and post large orange OLCC signs in their windows. No one objected to the Bakers having a few French oak barrels behind their fence—they can now pick up a bottle of wine made in their neighbor’s garage at New Seasons or Liner & Elsen.
The cellars are open by appointment only.
Drink: You can schedule a private tasting with Jan-Marc or buy a bottle at a wine shop, but if you just want to try a glass your best bet is Remedy Wine Bar in the Pearl (733 NW Everett St.) which usually has one of Jan-Marc’s wines available by the glass.
Get there: The yellow line of the MAX train stops at Killingsworth, about a 10-minute walk from the winery. North Ainsworth, the street the winery is on, is itself a major bike corridor.
8. Seven Bridges Winery
2303 N Harding Ave., 203-2583, sevenbridgeswinery.com.
The Pacific Northwest is noted more for its pinots than its malbecs, but Seven Bridges Winery isn’t a place that shies away from robust grapes. The winery, which was opened in 2008 by onetime soccer teammates Bob Switzer and Kevin Ross, makes only red wines, and decidedly bold ones. The malbec wasn’t being poured on our visit to the tasting room—located among a snarl of train tracks in the shadow of the Fremont Bridge—but a cabernet sauvignon was a kick in the tongue that mellowed after a few minutes. The lighter sangiovese was fruity and deliciously (perhaps dangerously) drinkable.
The pleasant, high-ceilinged warehouse space has vases of flowers atop wine barrels and a well-worn paisley rug flung across the concrete floor, but you’re more likely to sidle up to the marble countertop and make conversation with your fellow tasters about which cheese would pair best with that cabernet.
Tasting room open 1-5 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Drink: The Prima Nata, meaning “first-born,” blends merlot, cabernet, malbec and petit verdot to punchy effect. You can also find Seven Bridges wine by the bottle at Great Wine Buys (1515 NE Broadway St.) or by the glass at Enso (1416 SE Stark St.).
Get there: The yellow line stop at Albina/Mississippi is just a few minutes from the winery. There aren’t many bike racks in this industrial patch of North Portland, but the winery is just off North Interstate Avenue, which has a bike lane.
Nearby: Widmer Brothers Brewing company is just across the tracks, if you’re looking for suds and schnitzel after your sangiovese. Head farther up North Mississippi Avenue for more bars and restaurants.
9. Viola Wines
2901 NE Alberta St., 281-2675, corkwineshop.com.
This urban winery sells bottles out of Cork bottle shop on Northeast Alberta Street. They’ll do tastings by appointment for groups. Look for public tastings over the weekends around Thanksgiving, but otherwise your only option is to buy a bottle ($15-20) to go. Current offerings include red zinfandel and a pinot bianco.
Tasting room by appointment only.
Drink: Alberta rosso ($18), made from fruit grown in The Dalles.
Get there: The Alberta Arts District is very bikeable or, from downtown, take the No. 17 bus north and east. Coming from the concentration of wineries in inner Southeast, take the No. 70 bus north.
Nearby: Northeast Alberta Street is lined with great bars and restaurants.
10. Southeast Wine Collective
2425 SE 35th Place, 208-2061, sewinecollective.com.
There’s good reason winemaking is a favored pursuit of dilettantes and those otherwise loaded: it’s an expensive business to get into. Beyond the cash outlay for fruit that remains a sunk cost for a year or more, there’s lots of necessary equipment involved, which can’t be rented cheaply because everyone needs it at the same time.
Southeast Wine Collective solved that problem by bringing a group of eight wineries including Division Winemaking Company (887-8755, divisionwinemakingcompany.com), Helioterra Wines (757-5881, helioterrawines.com) and Vincent Wines (740-9475, vincentwinecompany.com) together under one roof. They get use of the gear and can sell their wares out of the tasting room just off restaurant-heavy Southeast Division Street.
On a recent Friday night, a bin of little blueish-purple grapes was unloaded by a group of 20-somethings overdressed in Marmot jackets and North Face puffy vests drinking bottles of Deschutes Chainbreaker and awkwardly prodding the fruit with a rake as it made its way down the conveyor belt. Inside the dimly lit tasting room that doubles as a giant bottle rack, there were $2 tasters, $7 glasses and $23 bottles from member wineries plus an $8 flight of tap wines and a $10 flight with pours from Crowley, Bow and Arrow, Vincent and Teutonic. Even the deviled eggs ($6) come as a flight.
Tasting room open 3-10 pm Monday and Wednesday through Sunday. Or by appointment.
Drink: Division Winemaking Company’s 2011 Red Collar pinot noir ($2 taster, $8 glass, $27 bottle), which is crisp and strong, flavorful but quaffable.
Get there: The Southeast Clinton Street bike corridor is only a block away. The No. 4 bus line will take you west to the city center and then back over to the Rose Quarter Transit center.
Nearby: There are a half-dozen fabulous bars and restaurants on Southeast Division Street, within blocks of the collective. Grab drinks at WW’s 2013 Bar of the Year, Victory, to the east, or get dinner at WW’s 2013 Restaurant of the Year, Roe, or runner-up, Ava Gene’s, to the west.
Accessories for your urban wine tour.
Bent Brick growler fill
1639 NW Marshall St., 688-1655, thebentbrick.com.
As of July, Oregon law allows wine to be sold by the
growler. To get a fill to-go hit up the Bent Brick, which does all of
its wine on tap and was among the first Portland businesses to hop
onboard with wine growlers.
6031 SE Belmont St., 222-6014, cheese-bar.com.
You’ll see plates designed by Portland’s most popular cheesemonger, Steve Jones, everywhere in town. Go right to the cow at this little deli case-lined tavern. Jones is known for perfect pairings so ask away.
Cheese & Crack
Southeast 33rd Ave and Hawthorne Blvd., cheeseandcrack.com.
Portland has two cheese-and-cracker carts selling portable wine pairings. This one is closest to the center of the urban winery universe, just off the main drag in the Hawthorne district. Cheese and Crack makes its own crackers in-house and is known for generous portions of fromage blanc and blue cheese.
The Cheese Plate
2231 NE Alberta St., thecheeseplatepdx.com.
Housed in a handsome wooden cart with built-in seating at a pod on Northeast Alberta Street, the Cheese Plate also sells pumpkin-cheddar soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Unless you get it to go, a basic $8 cheese plate comes on a wooden cheese board.
Chop salami and sandwiches
Inside the City Market, 735 NW 21st Ave., 221-3012, chopbutchery.com.
Chop makes some of the finest cured- and smoked-meat treats this side of…well, anywhere. The salamis are all keepers, but the $8 Italian Stallion sandwich with Chop’s own ham, salami and mortadella plus peppers is what you want in the middle of a wine tour. On weekends, they also have an obscenely rich porchetta sandwich.
Bottles from Division Wines
3564 SE Division St., 234-7281, divisionwines.com.
Very near to the Southeast Wine Collective on Southeast Division Street, this wine shop is owned by Will Prouty, who is all about introducing people to lesser-known, often self-distributing, wineries. Years of restaurant work have honed his empathy for wine drinkers of all stripes. He’ll even point you to an excellent oaky California chardonnay if that’s your preferred drink.
Olympic Provisions sausages
1632 NW Thurman St., 894-8136; 107 SE Washington St., 954-3663, olympicprovisions.com.
This sausage empire beckons you in with a deli case full of inviting charcuterie. You plan to grab a few salumis to go, but once you’re there for a saucisson sec you might just end up sticking around for a full charcuterie plate or dinner. The location in the industrial inner Eastside on Southeast Washington Street is just a few blocks from Enso, Sauvage and Clay Pigeon.
Bottles from Pairings Portland Wine Shop
455 NE 24th Ave., 541-531-7653, pairingsportland.com.
Located across the street from the Ocean micro-restaurant cluster on Northeast Glisan Street, and not far from Bow and Arrow, Pairings is the place to bring your takeout tacos from Uno Mas and find precisely the right wine to go with them. Wine seller Jeff Weissler looks for “conscious wines” made sustainably and naturally (no added yeasts) from organic grapes. Fulfilling this criterion can be a tightrope walk when you’re also looking for affordability, so you’ll see sections devoted to “Stuff too good for the price” as well as “Shit too good not to carry.”
Walnut Studios bottle holder
If you’re going to be buying bottles on a bike trip to Portland’s urban wineries you may want to check out Walnut Studios’ bottle belts. The Portland company makes straps out of stylish bridle leather ($36) that will neatly secure a wine bottle to your bike’s top tube.