Monday, April 09, 2012

Wine and the City

From guest blogger Charlotte Chipperfield:

 It's a wonder why we never saw Carrie Bradshaw take off to the Finger Lakes for some wine tasting, although, now that I say it, she wasn't a fan of the outdoors, too many squirrels. Plus, nothing is worse than taking a vineyard tour and feeling your Manolo Blahniks sink into the cover crops. But I wonder, if there were urban wineries in New York City, would we have seen more glasses of wine in between all those cosmos?

I can’t speak for New York, but I have seen waves of wineries come and go trying unsuccessfully to make it work in San Francisco. Creating an urban winery is no easy feat but I think Portland, Oregon, may just have what it takes for a thriving and successful urban winery scene.

Known more for micro-breweries and being a stone’s throw away from Willamette Valley wineries, why would you stay in the city to taste? Well, Portland has a unique group of 9 wineries dedicated to producing quality wines closer to home. No need to plan long day-trips, you can literally stop by in between grocery shopping and other errands, and ladies, no alternative footwear required.

With wineries located throughout the city limits, I took on the challenge of exploring. On a rainy Tuesday, I decided to sneak into Hip Chicks do Wine and see if the ladies of Sex and the City were inside. Alas, they were not, but I did meet another woman who was escaping the elements, enjoying some wine tasting and bonding with the young man behind the counter. As I got cozy on a stool, I immediately felt like I was with friends at a wine bar. I learned more about the meaning of life than about the wines but if you are looking for a reasonable priced off-dry Muscat, Hip Chicks has got you covered. Full of honeysuckle, stone fruits and silky sweetness. With the tasting room nestled behind the barrels, the casual atmosphere made for a perfect mid-week sipping escape. Just don’t forget your jacket, the cellar temperature is chilly!

The following week, I visited Seven Bridges Winery. Meeting the husband and wife team of Jill and Kevin Ross, I immediately felt as if I were welcomed into their home and offered freshly baked cookies , only their living room was a winery and their cookies were amazinKevin is the co-winemaker and co-owner along with Bob Switzer. Kevin and Bob both have engineering backgrounds and have a serious hungry for knowing how things work, demonstrating some serious winemaking skills. Focused on crafting wines they like to drink, be prepared for some bold reds! Sourcing grapes from both Oregon and Washington, they have access to some elite fruit.

As the passionate Kevin bounced around from barrel to barrel in the converted auto repair shop, I found myself becoming just as excited as he was! My jaw almost hit the ground when tasting the Sangiovese Rosé, then I remembered I had wine in my mouth. Sluuurp! Just when I thought I couldn’t be wowed any more, we tasted the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon out of barrel. One of the most vibrant and well-rounded cabs I have tasted in a long time! Finishing with the Prima Nata, their flagship red blend and baby of the family, truly outstanding. Overall production is around 800 cases. I just can’t say enough great things about their passion and their wines! With the new tasting room opening April 7th, I suggest you walk quickly, take a cab, or bike your way over before they sell out!

No matter which of the 9 wineries you choose to visit, the pride of Northwest grown and made is alive and well. Portland urban wineries have created a true sense of community in addition to outstanding wines. So the next time you are picking up your dry cleaning, taking a Saturday stroll, or just out with friends, forget about cosmos and leave your wine country map behind. It’s time to explore the hip urban wine culture taking place in your backyard.

To view the full list of Portland Urban Wineries and learn more about upcoming events, go here.

Santé! Charlotte :)


You cetainly have been having fun around Portland :) T.

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