Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Wine And Cider Fortunes Boosted By Oregon Collaborative Efforts

Son of Man Cidery - Oui Wine Bar

Busting into the craft beverage market, be it wine or cider, can be an expensive and daunting proposition. In Oregon entrepreneurial souls share resources, combine marketing efforts and collaborate for success.

All Together Now

Wine collaboratives are a common thing in Europe. Individual winegrowers don’t have the wherewithal to pay for all the equipment to vint or store their wine, let alone market it. So, these farmers become part of a commune or collaborative where the costs can be borne collectively.

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During our recent visit to Oregon we saw two impressive examples of cooperation.  Son of Man Basque cidery in Cascade Locks and the Southeast Wine Collective in Portland provide collaboration that is boosting craft cider and wine and feeding the entrepreneurial spirit.

Son Of Man… And Family

Jasper Smith is a cider maker, albeit an unconventional one. Not content to make your typical hard cider and open a tasting room in Portland, or say Hood River, he decided to focus on sagardo, a Basque-style cider. For his tasting room, he picked out a large warehouse building in Cascade Locks. The facility can easily accommodate 150 for events.

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Son of Man opened in the summer of 2018. Making sagardo requires four months of fermentation in oversized oak barrels called foeders. It is dry, complex and is a perfect complement for a good meal. Using wild fermentation, Oregon apples and no filtering or fining, Son of Man Sagardo is a tart treat.

But don’t just pour yourself a glass. Heavens no. To truly enjoy sagardo, you must use the “long pour.” Hold your glass as far away from the bottle as possible, or if you are at Son of Man, get ready to catch the stream of cider shooting straight from the spigot. The long pour aerates the cider and creates its signature bubbles.

As if this wildly successful cider startup isn’t enough, the Son of Man building also houses two small production wineries rapidly gaining notoriety: The Color Collector and Buona Notte. Bethany Kimmel is the owner and winemaker for The Color Collector (TC Collector to friends). Her focus is Gamay Noir, of which there is roughly 30 acres planted in Oregon. The grape is low in alcohol, but high in acidity and fruit. The small production runs are avidly sought by a growing circle of wine connoisseurs.The 2017 TC Collector Gamay Noir undergoes carbonic maceration before being lightly pressed and aged in neutral oak. It’s one reason Gamay is creating excitement in Oregon.

Graham Markel is the force behind Buona Notte wines, a critical favorite that is showing up in area wine shops such as Park Avenue Fine Wines in Portland. The wines are crafted from Italian varieties Sangiovese and Dolcetto with Sauvignon Blanc also offered. The Rosa Rosé of Dolcetto beautifully blends acidity and structure to create a perfect pairing with grilled fish. The grapes come from the Columbia Gorge AVA, which includes portions in both Oregon and Washington. The Cento Per Cento Sangiovese is another beautiful bottle showing graceful cherry notes with a dash of spice. Buona Notte also produces Vermouth, made from rosé of Pinot Noir with herbs and botanicals.

Southeast Wine CollectiveSon Of Man Cider is an appealing destination with cider, wine and special events. Although it is located in an unassuming warehouse building, the rear doors open to a beautiful view of the Columbia River and is close to the attraction of the Cascade Locks.

Keeping Portland Collaborative

With the cost of a single French oak barrel ranging up to $2,000, it’s no surprise that winemaking is an expensive proposition. Portland’s Southeast Wine Collective is helping wine creatives by sharing resources, trading knowledge and bolstering spirits.

The Southeast Wine Collective is an urban winery and custom crush facility that also features Oui! Wine Bar and Restaurant where you can taste the wines produced onsite. SWC was founded by Kate Norris and Tom Monroe and opened in 2012.

Division Winemaking Company is the winery of Kate and Tom and is based at the SWC facility. SWC offers state-of-the-art equipment and highly skilled staff needed for everything from harvest crush, fermentation, blending, and aging to filtration and bottling. At any given time, there are member wineries and others that utilize the custom crush services. After their launch, some wineries build their own tasting rooms or production facilities and move to the “alumni” category.

During our visit, Day Wines, Gamine, Viola Wine Cellars and Esper Cellars wines were tasted in addition to those from Division. Standouts included the Day 2018 “Babycheeks,” a rosé of Malbec, Tannat, and Cabernet Franc from the Rogue Valley; Gamine 2016 Grenache; a delightful Esper 2007 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley; Viola 2017 Aromatica Traminette, Columbia Gorge; and the Division 2012 “Deux” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley.

With so many member wineries and space at a premium in its urban location, keeping the wine production process flowing is a challenge. Production equipment, barrels and bottling must be tightly scheduled.  “We’ve learned to make wine by playing a grab game of Tetris,” said Monroe. “That’s the price you pay for having a winery in your neighborhood.”

The Southeast Wine Collective brings wine country to urban Portland, another example of how creativity and collaboration equal beautifully expressive wines in Oregon.

You may also enjoy:

Cross Border Cooperation Fuels Oregon And Washington Winemaking

Kiona Vineyards and Hightower Cellars Deliver Excellence In Washington’s Red Mountain AVA

Daring And Diverse Wine Flows From The Columbia Gorge AVA

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