I love Oregon. I love wine.
And I love discovering and sharing great Oregon wine.
Like a lot of folks, as I was exploring the world of Oregon wine, I found myself joining one wine club after another.
Again and again, I kept wondering, “How come there’s not a single wine club that will just send me great stuff from all over Oregon?”
And from that little idea, Cellar 503 was born.
Right here in Oregon, in this little magical corner of the world, we have an extraordinary range of great wines. Sure, you’ve heard of the Pinot Noir (and there’s so much good Pinot Noir!)
But let me tell you — there are so many hidden gems coming from little vineyards tucked around the corner on every country road. And more than a few amazing wines being made in little urban wineries, often in collaborative spaces.
I’m excited to join the crew here at Menuism.com. In the coming months, I’ll be sharing my stories about inspiring winemakers, notes about unusual varietals you have to try, and helping you explore the world of wine – especially Oregon wine. Tucked between the mega wine states of California and Washington, Oregon’s winemakers are producing extraordinary stuff in small batches, handcrafted, and with a deep love of the land. (Yeah, OK, insert your Portlandia joke here!)
One of the inspirations for Cellar 503 was a little winery I discovered outside of Medford, Oregon: LaBrasseur Vineyard. Literally over the river and through the woods (where cellphones don’t work anymore), we found this beautiful vineyard planted by hand by Fred LaBrasseur, a retired firefighter, who not only planted every plant but built the tasting room himself and became a self-taught winemaker. And the wine is amazing. As I left, I couldn’t help but think, “Everyone should know about this place and this wine – how can I share it?”
I was inspired by Anne Ebenreiter Hubatch of Helioterra Wines, an urban winery in Portland. Anne turned her passion for the environment into a passion for the land that produces the grapes that in her hands make amazing wines.
I was inspired by Corey Schuster of Jackalope Wine Cellars who turned a job in a tasting room that he found on Craigslist into a career as one of Oregon’s up-and-coming winemakers.
I was inspired by Jim and Terri Delfino of Roseburg’s Delfino Vineyards who “retired” in the Umpqua Valley hoping to farm a few crops on the land they purchased but fell in love with locally-made wines and taught themselves how to make some of the most sought-after wines in the area.
Oregon is best known for the amazing Pinot Noir that comes from the Willamette Valley. But you know what? What I’ve discovered in my research and travels is that nearly every part of this state is producing fabulous wine. From the luscious Tempranillos, Syrahs, and Viogniers in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley to the Riesling, Zinfandel, and Gewurtztaminers grown up north in the Columbia Gorge, we have it all here in Oregon.
It’s just as important to me to share my discoveries with you as it is to tell the stories of the winemakers and grape growers that bring us their creations.
Wine is a labor of love. And when you find out why these winemakers love making wine and the unique approach that each one brings to the craft, you can’t help but fall in love. Over and over and over.
And that’s the magic of Oregon wine. It’s the land, the climate, the grapes, and most of all, the people that pour their hearts and souls into it.