After decades of living in the middle of Beervana, many Portlanders are familiar with how beer is made. In brewpubs around the city, patrons can sip the wares in close proximity to giant vats of beer while brewmasters stomp around in galoshes carrying out their work.
Winemaking, too, has long been part of the Oregon landscape, but for city dwellers, the process still holds an air of mystery. It generally takes place in the Willamette Valley, and anyone who wants to watch winemakers in action must make a special pilgrimage to wine country.
Now a group of urban winemakers is hoping to bring the winemaking experience to the people with their new winemaking facility and tasting room on Division Street in the heart of southeast Portland. It's a brewpub for wine enthusiasts.
Go See It
SE Wine Collective
- 2425 SE 35th Place, Portland
- Tasting Room Hours:
Wed- Fri: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sat: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Visit website
Four artisanal wine producers – Vincent Wine Company, Bow & Arrow Wines, Helioterra Wines and Division Winemaking Company — have joined together to form the SE Wine Collective. According to cofounder Thomas Monroe, the collective is an opportunity for these small up-and-coming labels to share the costs and risks of moving into a larger facility and to work in a collaborative environment with other winemakers.
The collective opened in late September, just in time for harvest. It's the busiest and most important time of the year for winemakers. The 5,000-foot space was full of activity recently as the last of the season's shipments of grapes came in to be pressed or crushed and put into large vats for fermenting.
With four winemakers sharing the same space and equipment, the name of the game for urban winemaking is scheduling and logistics, says Monroe. Vats of fermenting grapes were tucked into every corner amid shiny new tanks and equipment as Monroe and his crew moved crates around to make room for the last batch.
"For somebody who's never been in a winery, this could be considered crowded," says Monroe. "But I don't think we're even at two-thirds of our capacity in here."
Wine lovers and curious passers-by can the watch action from the cozy tasting room which looks directly out into the winery. The tasting room offers flights of wine from each of the resident labels as well as a selection of the winemaker's "inspirational wines." There is food to nibble on and a casual, friendly atmosphere to learn about wine.
"It's been a bit like living in a fishbowl out here when we're working," says Monroe. "But that's what we wanted. We wanted this community who's never seen a winery before to be able to check it out, hang out with the winemakers and give some of our wines a try."