Looking for a Place to Relax and Sip a Bit of Oregon’s Bounty?
Oregon is known for many amazing things: lush forests, picturesque high-desert views, breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges, a rugged coast, and fertile valleys. And some of the hills above those fertile valleys, the ones that inhabit certain microclimates along the Yamhill river, for instance, represent some of the best wine-growing terroir in the entire world.
Portland may be known internationally as a craft beer Nirvana of sorts, but it is also internationally known for the quality of the wines produced nearby. But you don’t have to take our word for it; the medals speak for themselves.
Within forty-five minutes (on a good day) you can drive from the heart of downtown Portland to some of the most highly regarded wineries anywhere in North America. Because of this proximity to greatness, Portlanders take their wine as seriously as they take their beer.
There are a bounty of excellent wine bars in the Portland area, and our world-renowned restaurants pride themselves in stocking some of the region’s and world’s best wines.
So whether your quest for vino takes you all the way to McMinnville or just across the neighborhood, you’re sure to find something worth drinking. Here’s a few standout spots that should definitely be on your short list if you’re a wine lover living in PDX.
Yamhill County - Oregon Wine Country
The Yamhill River, an eleven-mile long tributary of the Willamette, snakes its way through some of the best pinot noir growing territory in the world. In the area, there are several family-owned and world-class wineries dotting the rolling hills between the collection of quaint towns that line either side of Highway 99W.
Nearly all have tasting rooms with free, or nominally priced tastes available to visitors, and most of the wineries put on special events around the fall crush and Thanksgiving weekend.
Since the Oregon wine renaissance that began in the early nineteen-seventies has drawn more and more affluent locals and visitors to the area, the towns have responded by carving out more family-friendly activities, and erecting restaurants good enough to get wine tasters to stay in town for dinner.
And while the area around Dundee isn’t the only wine-producing region in the state, it is definitely the best known and the easiest to get to from Portland.
Portland’s Best Wine Bars
One of the newest and least pretentious wine bars in the city, Cooper’s Hall (cooper is another name for a barrel-maker) boasts forty-four taps that rotate through the massive hall’s seasonal wine offerings. Not all of the taps are devoted to wine, but the majority of them are, leaving a handful of taps for craft beer and hard cider. They serve their wines alongside rotisserie-cooked meats and all the wines are produced in barrels, and then kegged on site.
Tesoaria, one of the award-winning-est wineries in the entire state, also has a wine bar and tasting room up on North Williams. The owners split their time between the winery and vineyard they operate in Roseburg and their tasting room. They offer food and wine pairings, the opportunity to bottle your own wine from their live barrels, and a variety of special events throughout the year.
Noble Rot has one of the city’s best restaurant views, period, and as if that weren’t enough, it also sits on top of a LEED-Platinum certified building fed by its own aquifer. The restaurant sports a rooftop garden, an unbelievable wine list with more than three-hundred selections, more than forty wines by the glass, and a full bar with both craft cocktail and beer offerings.
One of the most casual wine bars in all of Portland, Enso is composed of a beautiful long bar and open seating areas for groups to mingle and come together over great wine. They offer home delivery in the Portland area and an affordable wine club with tiered pricing. What’s not to love?!
Muse Wine Bar
Muse, over on Northwest Raleigh, is an intimate, beautiful little wine bar. They have an outstanding array of wines, many from small boutique or artisan producers, and all offered at a good value. They serve charcuterie and fine cheeses to complement their wine service and offer several craft beers and ciders as well.
SE Wine Collective on SE Division
Since they opened in the late summer of 2012, the Southeast Wine Collective, just off of SE Division at SE 35th Place, has been producing and serving wines that have garnered local and national attention. They've been written up in the New York Times, Wine Spectator, Portland Monthly, and many other local, regional, and national publications.
The facility provides space and equipment to local winemakers so that all have the opportunity to thrive in a truly collective sense. They have a five thousand-square foot event space, and an onsite catering partner for large events. The Wine Collective is also open to accommodate smaller parties with both wine and food most evenings, and for extended hours on the weekend. Small plates and a unique menu make for a very festive evening out, when paired with just about any one of their well-curated wine flights.
Pour Wine Bar
Pour Wine Bar, on Northeast Broadway and Twenty-Seventh features small production wines, served alongside simple seasonal plates in a sleek modern setting. They offer Northwest varietals alongside selections from Europe and California, aiming to provide their patrons with the best possible example of each varietal and style. They offer wine and food pairings and several special events throughout the year.
Mt. Tabor Fine Wines on SE Hawthorne
With nearly 20 years experience serving wine lovers both new and old, proprietor Sandy Thompson has been running Mt. Tabor Fine Wines from the same location on SE Hawthorne Blvd. With a wide variety of French and Italian wines from abroad, he’s also become quite the master when it comes to finding the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Neighbors and wine lovers are all invited to share in his knowledge every Friday night from 4:00 to 7:30, when Sandy hosts hand-selected tastings that showcase 6 different wines from various regions. Many of Oregon’s best small growers have exclusive relationships with the shop, which puts out annual offerings to select customers only. You won’t get a better or faster education on Oregon’s pinot noir selection anywhere else!
Getting Your Vine On in PDX
Portland is home to many stellar wine-tasting rooms, and with the award-winning vineyards only a forty-five minute drive away, it is truly at the center of wine lovers paradise. Get out there a try a glass of what put Oregon on the international wine map soon; you’ll be happy you did!
[Photos Via: Wikimedia; Flickr Commons; Cooper's Hall; PDX Wine Tour]