Portland, Oregon—Gateway to a Capital of the Beverage Arts – James Melendez


Portland is a great gateway for the Pacific Northwest beverage arts culture.  Always a smaller gateway when compared to San Francisco or Seattle—but that does not matter.  And in many ways it is not just a gateway but a center for the beverage arts that cannot be compared to another center; simply because there is nothing as comparable.

Consider Portland as a staging to Willamette Valley and the northerly wine countries of Northern Oregon also has the highest number of breweries than any other city in the world (40).    Portland has the highest per capita consumption of saké in the U.S.   Portland also has a very active distilling communities as well—at least 15 distilleries from Whiskey, Vodka, Grappa, Brandy to Gin and more.

Portland gets some credit for coffee and unfortunately the lion’s share goes to Seattle—Portland’s coffee culture is just as intense as Seattle and the best known is Stumptown—a multi-mini coffee and espresso house.   There are other producers as well and the excellence and obsession on roasting profile, organic, direct purchase from coffee producers is a hallmark in the City of Roses.

The Willamette Valley is very close to Portland—Willamette is a collection of smaller sub-AVAs:

  • Chehelam Mountains
  • Dundee Hills
  • Eola-Amity Hills
  • McMinnvile
  • Ribbon Ridge
  • Yamhill-Carlton

The Willamette Valley in terms of scale is a small region producing Pinot Noir with elegance, grace and a bounty of terroir.  This is a little valley that could and did.  Willamette Valley is a very northerly and westerly region where Pinot Noir has found a great home or a home was found for this very unique signature of Pinot Noir.   Have visited, walked the land and with pruner in hand put the theoretical in to practice.  Willamette Valley has a very small per acre or hectare production level than other wine regions around the world.

While this is a very northerly and westerly wine grape growing region—challenged by temperature—yields might be low but the promise of challenge does promote excellence in bottle to wine glass.  Oregon has worked extremely hard to compete and highlight their wines and Pinot Noir is an especially difficult varietal not only to grow but to serve up to the world of wine drinkers.

Willamette Valley growers are still expanding the current acreage / hectarage but also giving depth and breadth to clonal selection and expression.

The example I point to working hard is the promotion and place for Pinot Noir in Oregon is Oregon Pinot Camp and IPNC International Pinot Noir Celebration.

Oregon wineries are not only growing Pinot Noir but also a wide range of varietals:

Auxerrois, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Malbec, Merlot, Müller-Thurgau, Muscat Canelli, Petit Verdot, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Tocai Friulano, and Viognier—to name a few.

Portland as a base camp is a great place to start a great food, wine, beer, saké and spirits journey.  The City of Roses has wondrous expressions in both restaurant, food cart / truck culture—no better pairing than it’s own beverage arts culture and outstanding food.




Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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© 2012 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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About James Melendez

I love wine and have had the privilege of working in the wine trade as a senior national wine marketing manager for a wine, food and home goods retailer in 30+ US States. I executed into making wine experiential and made 'wines of the world' programme work in a highly regulated framework for a successful business proposition. My "wine" site also incorporates those categories intimately involved with wine such as food, travel and lifestyle. This site incorporates my many dimensions of interest. I love to review and also talk about many aspects of wine. I have been privileged to visit many wine countries and find them enthralling no matter how many times I visit. I love all aspects of wine: viticulture, history, winemaking, brand development, wine regions and many more aspects. This is a living tradition that needs documentation, education, reporting and reviewing. Do I have favourite varieties and styles? I love so many varieties and often it is situational and yet there are time honoured wines that I anticipate and I am passionate about. I like all colours of wine and all styles. I have had a mad passionate affair with sparkling wines and they are always top of mind. Wine nourishes our soul and is the key to connecting with other people at our dinner table. Salute, James © 2014, 2017 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social medias.
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