When I lived in Portland last summer to intern at the art museum, I began to cultivate a great love for the food cart scene. Now that I’m living there, I have graduated from merely a lunchtime cart goer to taking advantage of the ones that stay open for dinner. Nothing could be better than arriving at Winderlea, one of my favorite places in wine country, and discovering that the owners brought down Garden State, a sandwich/burger cart from the Northeast side of town, to grill up delicious food to pair with their wine. I am most likely one of the worst recovering vegetarians and ordered the burger without hesitation. I paired it with a glass of rosé, because it was sunny and because I like to live on the edge. To tell you the truth, the rosé lent itself quite well when paired with the buttery challa-style bun that bookended a patty of perfectly grilled beef. The Winderlea rosé is smooth and well-balanced, fruity, dry, and a touch acidic that comes across more complex than overwhelming or confusing to the palette.
The owners and staff at Winderlea are genuinely kind and are more than happy to share information about the winemaking process, the vineyards, and their tasting room, which is a glass and steel construction with floor to ceiling windows that take in the panoramic view of the wine country. I wish I could live there.
After leaving Winderlea, we decided to venture to a winery just down the road–or so we thought. Lack of signage and perfects our imperfect map reading, led us to abandon our original plan and choose another tasting room on a whim. Down a long, winding road, we spotted a sign for Trisaetum, agreed that it sounded intriguing, and steered our car toward the Trisaetum tasting room. The first thing you notice about the interior of the tasting room is that it closely resembles the clean lines and uncluttered space of an art gallery. This was the first sign that I knew I would love this place. I have a degree in arts management, minored in art history in undergrad, and love visiting museums. In this one place, my love of art and love of wine collided and created the perfect zen atmosphere for tasting Trisaetum’s Pinot Noirs and Rieslings.
The tasting is divided into three parts: first, you enjoy the two Rieslings and then descend into the barrel cave to enjoy two Pinot Noirs with James Frey, the owner, winemaker, and artist. The barrel cave is a long, compact corridor lined on both sides with stacked barrels. Candled dimly lit the cave. James was standing behind a small table with his bottles of Pinot Noir waiting for us to sample. The first Pinot was so full bodied that I thought I was actually drinking a Cabernet. When I expressed this to James, he told me that one of the best things about Pinot Noir is that it can take on characteristics so very unlike the Oregon Pinot Noirs that I am used to tasting. The second Pinot was much more in the traditional style–light, juicy, smooth. Returning to the tasting room upstairs, I tasted a Pinot that resembled a blending of the two in the cave, and had the fortune to meet fellow wine blogger Ryan Reichert of oe•no•phile blog, who also happens to be the tasting room associate manager at Trisaetum. It is my first in-person meeting of a fellow wine blogger and it was quite exciting! Ryan has graciously agreed to be interviewed for Vininsane in the near future and I am hoping to contribute to Palate Press soon as well where Ryan is the managing editor.
It was certainly a serendipitous day in wine country and I look forward to cultivating my relationships with Portland-area wine lovers and bloggers as well as the peers I know via their blogs and Twitters. I highly recommend the Estate Riesling at Trisaetum, the Rosé at Winderlea, the Pinot Blanc at The Four Graces, and the Syrah at Duck Pond.
I must jet but more on the Ribbon Ridge AVA in a later post!