Functioning as a multifaceted operation, certainly the one thing The Wine Valet knows better than anything else is wine. Part event space, part tasting room, and part tour guide, The Wine Valet hosts one-of-a-kind events for up to 75 and offers tours with transportation that visit local wineries and vineyards. The staff welcomes patrons to sample varietals from different wineries before traveling to Artisanal Wine Cellars to sniff, sip, and listen to vinos. The Wine Valet is so immersed in the regional wine culture that they offer a free Android app for self-guided tours of more than 200 wineries.
For more than four decades, the Ponzi family has used the rich soil of the Willamette Valley to produce lush, sustainable wines. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi worked alongside her father for many years, gaining hands-on experience with viticulture and foots-on experience with grape stomping. She deepened this education in Beaune, France, where she studied Burgundian practices. In 1993, Luisa earned her Brevet Professionnel D’Oenologie et Viticulture certificate, a first for an American woman.
Luisa and her sister Maria carry on the dynasty started by their parents, creating wine varietals suited to the climate with sustainable practices that respect the tradition of winemaking. In addition to stocking the cellar with an award-winning collection of pinot noir, pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, and white riesling, the Ponzis fill bottles with arneis and dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals.
What could be better than a glass of artisanal beer or wine? How about that same glass, plus an expert to curate the experience, and also you have a talking dog? With Artisan Clubs, you can achieve most of that dream. Members of the World of Wine Club will receive select presses from established regions all over the world, and members of Artisan Beers enjoy similarly elite microbrews. And then there's the Pacific Northwest Wine Club, which propagates the varietals specifically from Oregon and Washington.
Creativity and sustainability are the guiding principles of the restaurant co-owned by Johnson & Wales food-science professor Lynn Tripp. Mingling the disparate flavors of France, America, and Morocco, chefs treat palates to tapas, cheeses, and desserts in an intimate atmosphere warmly inspired by medieval chateaus. If not sidling up to the 35-seat wine bar or sinking into an Italian-leather sofa, diners feast amid cozily antiqued surroundings trimmed with stone arches and rough-hewn wooden columns. Wine barrels, a large, communal dining table, and romantically lowered lights bring a rustic charm to the storefront to welcome customers more warmly than a bear-hugging doormat.
Elephants Delicatessen has been providing Portlanders with fresh deli fare since the dying days of disco. Items are made from scratch daily, with the menu and prices varying from location to location. A few staples pop up at several Elephants eateries, however—namely, the delicatessen's highly praised soups, including the beloved tomato orange soup ($4.50 for a bowl at the Elephants on Wheels location), said to have the ability to align stars in a single spoonful. An array of sandwiches is also available at Elephants Delicatessen, including an albacore tuna salad mini-hoagie ($4.50 at the three Flying Elephants locations), or the Elephants' Own Hamburger ($8.95 at the NW 22nd Avenue location). Depending on which Elephants you choose to harness with your lunch-grabbing lasso, you can also opt for pizza, spinach salad, a black-bean burger, fish and chips, or a Carolina pulled-pork sandwich. Be sure to check your location's menu before making crazy-eyed demands for lobster-and-squash cookies, which don't exist.