In July 2019, staff at the Oregon Wine Board were able to spend time with LA-based sommelier and wine writer Al Letizia when he came through the Willamette Valley for the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) and Portland for an urban wine tour. So impressed was Al with his time here in our state that he wrote a number of subsequent articles on his experience, with one of them, Urban Winemakers in Portland Crush It, tapping into what makes Portland’s thriving wine scene different. Located about an hour northeast of the Willamette Valley’s winegrowing epicenter, Portland’s wine scene can get overlooked as visitors flock to the valley for copious tasting rooms.
Wrote Al, “I was impressed by the thriving urban winemaking scene there [in Portland]. It’s a lo-fi, DIY, close-knit community of hip producers operating in shared spaces, cooperatives, and converted warehouses. They source fruit from Pacific Northwest vineyards, make wine in town, and foster a unique wine culture that you can bike, bus, Uber, or even walk to, to sample their juice. And some of these producers are getting national attention, not only by the wine press and critics, but by sommeliers as well.”
The article, published in late January 2019, highlights Kate Norris and Tom Monroe, owners of the Southeast Wine Collective, Olga and Barnaby Tuttle of Teutonic, and Matt Berson of Love and Squalor. Each puts their own delicious twist on Oregon wine. He wrote: “That was the one common thread that Norris, Monroe, Tuttle, and Berson all expressed about the key to Portland’s success as a wine producing area. They seemed to point to the people and the community and their love of all things local, all things artisan, and all things Portland… ‘They not only have the love but they’re willing to support with their dollars the things they cherish and the things that they’re proud of,’ Norris said warmly and with gratitude.”
Published about the same time is a story in sister publication The SOMM Journal about climate change called Climate Change Solutions for the Wine Industry and what winemakers around the globe are doing. Interviewed in this story is Oregon’s Dr. Greg Jones, Director of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield College.