Top Wine Bars Across Oregon

I love wine bars, but not for the reasons you might think. Many years ago, I was living in San Francisco. Like most people residing in that area, the monthly rent drained my bank account. I had just graduated with an art degree and was working in galleries, but extra income was a must, so I applied for a job at a wine bar. During the interview process the owner asked me a few questions, to gauge my knowledge on wine, such as: “What is the grape used to make Chianti?”—to which I gave a grossly incorrect answer. Somehow (must have been my sparkling personality) I landed a job behind the bar pouring wine. The owner took a chance on a girl who didn’t know the difference between Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon—and the job changed the direction of my life. I have a certain nostalgic draw towards the wine bar because of that experience, and Oregon is swimming in them. Some are casual, raw and gritty; some are contemporary and modern, while others are plush and comfy. Here are few of Oregon’s stand-outs. Portland The Hop and Vine 1914 North Killingsworth St. / 503.954.3322 / Cozy | Distinctive | Charming When I first moved to Portland, I was lucky enough to live around the corner from a wine bar. I hadn’t even unpacked my U-Haul yet, but after an 1,800-mile drive with a weighed down Subaru and a fidgety 90 pound dog in my front seat, I needed a drink. To the wine bar I went. I sat down and to my pleasure saw that they had one of my personal favorites available by the glass, Cabernet Franc. Upon looking through their beer selection I found another gem, Boulevard Beer—the brew of my hometown, Kansas City, and the place of my recent tearful goodbye. I felt like The Hop and Vine was giving me a big hug. Since that day, they have opened a bottle shop next door where hand-crafted beers and a well-appointed wine selection are at your fingertips. They also have full bar of spirits and creative libations for every type of adult beverage enthusiast.
Bend portello winecafe 2754 Northwest Crossing Drive / 541.385.1777 / Urban | Fun | Friendly  Portello winecafe has been a favorite amongst Bend’s wine loving community for almost six years, serving lunch and dinner alongside over 27 wines by the glass, and a beer selection featuring Oregon brewers as well as other national and international microbrews. On Mondays from 4-9 pm, and Wednesday through Saturdays from 11:30-4:00 pm, ALL wines by the glass are only $5. Live music on Saturdays starts at 7pm.  Wines are also on display for retail sale. “We were really inspired by the combination of creating a European style neighborhood wine cafe so folks can walk or ride bikes. We have a passion for fresh food choices and handcrafted wine selections and the feel of an urban, yet casual atmosphere,” said Lance Newman, co-owner of portello. They have achieved just that. Beaverton Vinotopia Wine Restaurant and Wine Bar 12345 SW Horizon Blvd, Suite 231 / 503.597.6900 /  Welcoming | Innovative | Entertaining
Taking dinner and a movie to new heights, Vinotopia, located at the Cinetopia center in Progress Ridge, has one of my favorite by-the-glass programs in the state. Lead by wine director extraordinaire, Kim Oshiro, Vinotopia boasts over 58 wines by the glass. Each glass pour is available to enjoy at the bar, restaurant OR, best yet, in the movie theater. If you ask me, this is the best way to watch a movie—and it sure beats sneaking a bottle of wine into a movie theater (not that I have ever done that). One wine that Oshiro is really excited about right now? “The 2009 Domaine Comte Abbatucci ‘Faustine’ from Ajaccio, Corsica, France. This wine makes me homesick for a place that I have never been.” Looking for a little education to go with your movie? Wine 101 classes are taught on the first Tuesday of every month by Oshiro for $30.
Ashland Liquid Assets Wine Bar 96 North Main Street / 541.482.9463 /   
 Elegant | Comfortable | Classy
Offering more than 20 wines by the glass, a “seasonal French-inspired” menu and beers on Tap, Liquid Assets is Ashland’s hot spot for wine lovers since 2006. Husband and wife owners Jim Piotter and Denise Daehler-Piotter both bring to the table several years of restaurant experience and education. Their objective is to maintain an interesting selection of handcrafted wines from Oregon along with an international selection—with over 250 wines available for retail purchase. They open at 3 every day and offer wifi; it’s the perfect place to get some work done, if you ask me. They offer live music, tastings and classes. As members of the Ashland Gallery Association, the owners rotate the art that adorns the wine bar walls bi-monthly—highlighting the work of local and internationally acclaimed artists.
Hood River
White Buffalo Wine Bar                                                                            
4040 Westcliff Drive / 541.386.5534 /  
Hidden gem | Homey | Quaint
In 2005, Sarah Gumm and her mother, Mary Gumm, came up with a plan to turn an old ARCO gas station in Hood River into a fun and inviting wine bar. Their plan came to fruition in 2008 when White Buffalo Wine Bar opened its doors. Sourcing fresh and local ingredients, the Gumms have created a menu to stand alongside her 250 wine selections (10 by the glass)—which are all also available for retail sale. Thursday nights they offer free wine tasting for a chance to “try before you buy,” absorb a little wine knowledge and have some fun in the process.
Eugene B² Wine Bar 2794 Shadow View / 541.505.8909 /   Chill | Sheik | Romantic B2 is located in Eugene’s Crescent Village and offers 30 wines by the glass, anther 30 by the bottle and a full bar with plenty of beer options, from micro to not-so-micro. Executive Chef Garrett Kirsch executes a menu of Northwest cuisine that complements their wine selection. Kirsch’s personal favorite wine to pair with her provisions? “It’s summertime so our b2 Pinot Gris 2009.”


Rosés in Bloom

With Mothers Day just around the corner, I would like to informally suggest a new tradition in gift giving. Instead of the usual bouquet of flowers that wilt too quickly or a plant that needs loads of care, why not celebrate the wife, mother, grandmother, surrogate mother, mother-in-law or god-mother in your life with a bottle of rosé wine. Or, better yet, a bouquet of rosés.


Take a Stand with a New Kind of Keg

In the late 1700s, locksmith—and hydraulic engineer—Joseph Bramah patented an invention called the beer engine, a device used for pumping beer out of a cask. Today we know this as the keg, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the pressurized beer keg was perfected, and thanks to the keg stands of the 1978 movie Animal House, became mainstream. Flash forward to today’s keg and you will find that the iconic barrel stands for libations other than just beer.
Oregon wineries such as Grochau Cellars, Crowley Wines and Stoller Vineyards have been working towards perfecting the craft of keg wines, mostly at the direct request of restaurants. More and more tap handles in dining establishments are dispensing not only frothy cold beer but red, white and pink wine.


The Next Generation of Oregon Winemakers

Armed with little more than research about soils and a vision of a Burgundian Oregon, the pioneers of Oregon’s wine industry planted vines and the hope that they would create a life they could, one day, share with their kids.


1859 Magazine’s Wine Tasting at Grochau Cellars

In January, with ten anonymous tasters, 1859 Oregon’s Magazine sampled seven different wines at Grochau Cellars, a winery located in the heart of Portland. Get insight into your next wine purchase with comments, descriptions and ratings found on the following pages.


Guide to Oregon Wine Travel

Oregon’s winemaking tradition is as old as the state itself. Early settlers brought grapes to the Willamette Valley in the mid-19th century. The modern era of Oregon’s wine industry began in 1961, when Richard Sommer left the University of California at Davis to plant grapes in the Umpqua Valley.


Wine Across Oregon

Wine consumers and wine tourists can raise their glasses in a toast to the times. Prices have dropped, and wineries are courting tourists through their tasting rooms and wine clubs. The industry is in the hands of hundreds of small, family-owned wineries where visitors can often meet and talk with the people who craft the wine. The state’s wild, scenic beauty, its reputation as a foodie culture and a genuine place to taste wine attract many out-of-state tourists. And instead of all roads leading to Newberg or Dundee as they did in the ’80s and ’90s, wine lovers can get their fix in tasting rooms from Hood River to Ashland.


The Pinot Wilderness

By summer, I had settled on the most ambitious of all fantasies—to take trail horses on a two-day binge in wine country. In Oregon’s famed Pinot noir region lay a vast wilderness for exploration. Surprising chapters of a bigger story would emerge from that wilderness.


Oregon Winemaking

At the northern edge of Oregon’s winemaking region, a Napa Valley couple staked a claim and began a new life of biodynamic farming and making wine with a big table at its center.


Highway 99W

Follow your nose through the Pinot Passage, the floodgate to the Willamette Valley wine country. Here’s a sip of history to pair with your next oenophile journey into Oregon’s Burgundian region.