Each step of Ryan Sharp’s winemaking process embodies the small-batch ethos. Within the Eastside headquarters of ENSO Winery—Wine Press Northwest’s 2013 Oregon Winery to Watch—he mixes several winemaking techniques, yielding complex flavors inside miniature fermentation bins. He mashes grapes in miniature crush equipment and ferments whites and rosés in steel-jacketed tanks no larger than a fully grown mannequin. He sources grapes only from the West Coast, giving himself a framework for his experiments with varietals such as pinot gris, pinot noir, zinfandel, and counoise. As part of his craft-oriented operation, he never makes more than 100 cases at a time of the wines from his ever-evolving roster.
At ENSO's Urban Winery & Tasting Lounge, rustic wooden chairs gather under bare light bulbs and tin lampshades, surrounding a tasting bar crafted from old wooden timbers. Guides stationed at the bar pour tastes of ENSO- and Resonate-label wines, explaining how to decipher each wine's flavor notes. These wines—along with two rotating draft beers and libations crafted by 10 other local urban wineries—complement plates of marbled artisan salamis cured by Olympic Provisions, blocks of raw and aged cheeses from Steve’s Cheese Bar, and sweet and savory pies from Pacific Pie Co.
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.
Portland Pumpkin Farm's 100 acres of picturesque rural farmland yield a cornucopia of produce, which its workers cheerily harvest and sell directly to Portland residents. Not content to keep customers well fed, the farm also draws families, music lovers, and food aficionados to its pastoral atmosphere with a plethora of seasonal activities. A series of harvest festivals fill the air with blues, rock, bluegrass, and country music and simultaneously sate the appetites of guests with food-cart fare, local microbrews, and wine from Bella's own organic winery, which include creations made from berry, cherry, rhubarb, and traditional grape wines. Sun-soaked youngsters can take refuge on cow and grain trains, relax on a hayride, or explore a petting zoo stocked with barnyard animals and friendly carpet samples.
WineUp Wine Merchants' dedicated oenophile, Wayne, spreads the gospel of grape during educational courses, tours, and webisodes. Wayne throws bundles of geographical and historical wine facts at guests as they traverse the fertile grounds of Willamette Valley during daily wine tours, which include pick-up and drop-off services. Thanks to more than 70 webisodes waiting just a few mouse clicks away, enthusiasts can stay current on the latest and greatest bottled juices to arrive at Wine Up!'s front door. Classes provide an entertaining environment for guests to discover their personal wine tastes as they build a wider vino vocab, gain more knowledge of various blends, and leave with a thorough understanding of which came first, the grape or the bottle.
The Wine Cellar at Boynton Beach invites visitors to explore its spacious, open-floor spread of handcrafted wines that hail from vineyards across the globe, including Italy, Australia, and South America, as well as regional vineyards in California. The shop's relaxed atmosphere fuses Old-World vibes with New-World simplicity and lack of saber-tooth tigers, and the team of experts is readily available to answer questions and offer suggestions. Surrounded by bottles nesting peacefully upon the shelves that line the shop's outer walls, inquiring guests can enjoy complimentary tastings before committing to a purchase, and mix and match personalized cases to take home.