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Raise a glass to Oregon Wine Month

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With more than 675 wineries here, it's a good time to celebrate


COURTESY: ANDREA JOHNSON - From valley wineries such as Willamette Valley Vineyards (pictured) to SE Wine Collective spots in Portland, it'll be a festive time during Oregon Wine Month in May. See below for event listings for more on Oregon Wine Month.There have never been as many places to sip wine in Portland and Oregon as there are now.

That’s great news for wine lovers, who get to celebrate the bounty of the state’s agriculture and the entrepreneurship and craftsmanship of local winemakers throughout May during Oregon Wine Month.

“Oregon is absolutely on fire now, like no other wine region in the world,” Oregon Wine Board’s executive director, Tom Danowski, told hundreds of attendees last week at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Pendleton. “We have something nobody can take and everybody wants. We have Oregon.”

Both in the city and state, Oregon wine is having a moment. The state now boasts more than 675 wineries and 1,027 vineyards, with a snowballing “fan factory” of interest, Danowski said.

Those are the people who visit Portland and Oregon, take wine and other artisan products home with them to share, inspire others with their experience and come back to buy more.

Consider the numbers:

• Oregon has seen 45 percent growth in the number of wineries since 2011.

• Oregon’s wine industry now contributes $3.35 billion in economic impact, $207 million in tourism impact, more than 17,000 jobs and $527 million in wages to the state economy.

• Oregon wine sales have surged 14 percent, nearly twice as much as the wine category overall, at 8 percent.

In Portland, urban wineries continue to grow, with the new including Teutonic Wine Company just off Southeast Powell Boulevard and Urban Crush Winery in inner Southeast Portland, which features wines from three local producers.

Not bad for being at least 45 minutes from wine country, where tasting rooms host visitors year-round but peak every Memorial Day weekend as the season kicks off.

So where does all of this love for Oregon wine come from?

A lot of places.

“The recession allowed many people to start new careers based on passion,” says Michelle Kaufmann, spokeswoman for the Oregon Wine Board.

“However, the quality of the wines and diversity of fruit we’re able to produce in Oregon is drawing more people to come here to start their wineries rather than other places.”

Also, growth begets growth. Oregon wine is a hot commodity.

Especially in Portland, the urban wine movement is snowballing. It’s convenient for the wine enthusiasts who want the experience of wine tasting on a weeknight, when they can’t get away to wine country.

But it’s also smart for the winemakers.

“One of the attractive things is they don’t have a piece of land they’re tied to,” says Carrie Wynkoop, owner of a Portland-based wine club called Cellar 503.

“They can be anywhere to make their wine. In Portland they’re close to their market, close to their home, it allows them the freedom to be more experimental.”

As it happens, Cellar 503 saw so much success in its 16 months that it will soon open a headquarters, tasting room and event space in Southwest Portland.

The 1,000-square-foot tasting room will open June 1 in a renovated home built in the 1890s, at 4407 S.W. Corbett Ave.

With an outdoor patio and covered porch with heaters, it’ll be home to the wine club’s monthly Sip 503 tasting events from 2-5 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month, open to the public.

The new space will focus on boutique wineries from hard-to-reach locations in Oregon’s 18 wine-growing regions.

Wynkoop stays on top of current trends by picking a theme for each month’s wine club offerings.

In April, it was dry-farmed wines, part of the new sustainable farming movement.

A full 45 percent of Oregon’s vineyards are certified sustainable by one of five certifying agencies, according to the Oregon Wine Board, and many more are using sustainable practices.

That’s why sustainable wineries are the focus for Oregon Wine Month this year.

“Oregon has more certified sustainable acres than any other wine growing region in the U.S., making Oregon wines not just among the best in the world but among the best for the world,” Kaufmann says.

Wynkoop, of Cellar 503, says stewardship of the earth is on every winemaker’s mind, considering the relationship they have with the land.

“Every year for the past three years, harvest has been one to three weeks earlier than previous years,” she says. “All winemakers in this state are doing what they can to be environmentally conscious themselves because it affects their grapes in a hands-on way.”

So whether it’s for stress relief, romance, good times with friends, supporting the state’s economy or celebrating local winemakers, Oregon Wine Month is as good a time to drink wine as any.

Where to sip

Oregon Wine Month is pairing up with OpenTable this year to make it easier for diners to book a table at their favorite wine-forward restaurants, and take advantage of numerous promotions.

Visit www.oregonwine.org/oregon-wine-month/restaurants to see those deals.

And here’s a roundup of local Portland-area wine month events. For a full lineup, including events throughout Oregon, visit www.oregon wine.org.

• 5-8 p.m. May 5 — First Thursday in The Pearl, wine tasting with the Varnum Vintners winemaker at Via Delizia, 1105 N.W. Marshall St. For more: www.varnumvintners.com.

• 6-9 p.m. May 5 — ZiNG! Food & Wine Pairing Workshop, with small plates from Cuisinieres Catering paired with wines from Willful Wine Co. and R. Stuart. Hosted at the SE Wine Collective, 2425 S.E. 35th Place, $40; www.sewinecollective.com.

• 6-10:25 p.m. May 6 — Winemaker’s dinner at Muselet Restaurant & Wine Bar, 3730 S.W. Bond Ave. Inaugural release of Rollin Soles’ 2013 Brut sparkling wine, with a reception and five-course pairing dinner to follow; $125 per person, to book, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

• 1-4 p.m. May 7 — Stock Your Cellar at restaurant Five-O-Three, 21900 Willamette Drive, Suite 201, West Linn. Public tasting of more than 30 Oregon wines, paired with appetizers. Wines available for purchase; www.restaurant503.com.

• 1 p.m. May 8 — Mother’s Day at SE Wine Collective — Treat Mom to a cheese board and bottle of rosé for $40; to book, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

• 5-9 p.m. May 14 — Helioterra winemaker Anne Hubtach will be greeting tables and pouring wines at tables all evening, Noble Rot, 1111 E. Burnside St.; www.noblerotpdx.com.

• 2-4 p.m. May 15 — Cellar 503’s monthly pickup party, wine tasting event and meet-up with this month’s women winemakers, at Opal 28, 510 N.E. 28th Ave., $10 tasting fee (waived for members and their guests); www.cellar503.com.

• 6-9 p.m. May 19 — Sokol Blosser wine dinner at Swank & Swine, 808 S.W. Taylor St. Four-course meal paired with local whiskey and wine, $65 per person; www.swankandswine.com.

• 6-9 p.m. May 19 — Four-course winemakers’ dinner at Brix Tavern, 1338 N.W. Hoyt St., featuring Waterbrook Winery and Browne Family Vineyards, $75 per person; www.brixtavern.com.

• 3-6 p.m. May 28 — Vinlandia at SE Wine Collective, 2425 S.E. 35th Place. Tasting of newly released wine from each of the collective’s urban winemakers, $20 in advance, $25 at the door; www.sewinecollective.com.

@jenmomanderson