Only in Portland does a winemaker say, even in jest, that he is only interested in making wine for the neighborhood. Ryan Sharp of ENSO Winery operates a wine bar on 1416 SE Stark in Portland where he also makes his wine out of a garage now converted to a cool work site and bar.
Ryan envisioned his neighbors dropping by for a glass of wine and seeing how the wine is made. He calls it “production as performance”. As his patrons quaff one of his fine white or red wines, they can see the hands-on process of winemaking. Ryan does not want to be a wine mogul but instead just a guy down the street making a decent bottle of wine.
Our PCC class got a first hand look into the world of garagiste wine makers. Ryan Sharp of ENSO Winery and Jan-Marc Baker of Jan-Marc Wine Cellars are two of Portland’s newest type of craft producers, wine-making small scale but still commercial in their garage. Both Ryan and Jan-Marc started as amateur winemakers learning their craft with the help of local and helpful Willamette Valley winemakers and growers.
Ryan focuses on varietals from the Columbia Valley including Malbec, Grenache, Riesling, Zinfandel and Counoise, adding a pinot noir this year.
Jan-Marc Baker gets his fruit from The Dalles, a mere 90-minute trip to pick up his Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, and Chardonnay. Trained as chefs, he and his wife Barbara wanted to make wines that were much like their food – local, seasonal and hand crafted.
With some of the 2012 grapes already in the door, Ryan Sharp of ENSO showed us the cold soak process in progress on his Rhone varietal Counoise. Dry ice is added to the fermenters to cool the grapes to extract color from the skins and add flavor components. Spontaneous fermentation will shortly begin and the sugars will convert to alcohol. To break down the whole clusters in the bins, Ryan will punch down the grapes both with a giant mashing tool and with the ancient technique of foot stomping. After cleaning his feet, Ryan lowered himself into the bin and gingerly stomped down the grapes. He explained his feet were the perfect tool – soft, big and provided a gentle mashing. This was DIY wine making at its best!
Watch a video on Ryan’s grape stomping!
Put A Bird On It
Portland is in the forefront of the do-it-yourself craft making movement. We make great beers, smoked meats, pickled vegies, delicious coffee and we even have a TV show gently spoofing our obsession with all things local (IFC’s Portlandia). There is plenty of room and interest for micro-locally crafted wines. Just look around your neighborhood. Maybe there’s a garagista next door to you!
Wines we tried today:
Jan-Marc Wine Cellars Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2011
ENSO Riesling 2011 Wheatland Vineyard, Salem
Jan-Marc Wine Cellars Pinot Noir 2011 Sunnyside Vineyard, South Salem
ENSO Resonate #6 2011 Grenache, Merlot blend, Southern Oregon
Jan-Marc Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Hillside Vineyard, The Dalles
ENSO Mourvedre 2011 Grenache-Merlot blend, Southern Oregon
Photos by John Yandell and Rick Lindahl
© Rose Yandell and “Oregon Wine Class”, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material or photos without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.