For a millisecond I ran a fine wines shop in Newport, OR. The floor boards were the baseboard, so the cracks actually just went outside to the ground. When I took over the wines were primarily in bins, covered in large clots of dust. Some people calls those dust bunnies, but these were dust bison.
I was nowhere near qualified when I accepted the job. It was offered to me by default when the business manager and co-owner walked out one day. I was there serving for an event just hoping to get a part time job out of it. But beyond knowing I liked wine, I had no educational background in either viticulture or business. So the adventure began.
In that excerpt of my life I was exposed to wines I’d never heard of. Wines from every corner of the globe. Found many that I loved, and then others that I have happily forgotten. It also afforded me the opportunity prior to having a child to purchase at a marked discount, wines I could not otherwise afford.
Brown Estate 2001 Late Harvest Zinfandel 750ml
This bottle has sat on my shelf ever since. I purchased the last two of them we had in stock. Somehow the first was enjoyed when we had people over. It’s nearly a port, in both consistency and alcohol by volume. But now this one has been rolled ever so often to avoid sediment settling in the bottle, taken out and admired, then put back on the rack. Eventually it too will be enjoyed, I hope. Technically speaking it’s no longer in its prime, but we might get lucky and have a smooth leathery (sweet) zinfandel, or it will taste like rank vinegar.
In the winter of 2004 I took my burgeoning wine palette to the holiday festival held at the Lane County Fairgrounds. It was a smorgasbord of wine, desserts, and of course nick-nacky holiday attire and potpourri. Filled with smug (yes, smug) I toured the various wine tables, while the group I was with was far more interested in the other goodies and didn’t mind at all that I was tasting my way to needing someone else to drive. Tucked in a back corner was a newer winery. Not that Oregon is shy on up and coming wineries, but this one had a niche. They only dealt in dessert wines.
As a young wine drinker this was immediately appealing since all new wine drinkers like sweet wine. Oh yeah, and they alcohol content was higher. I got to talking to the co-owner of the winery, Amanda Sever, and pledged that if I someday had a wine shop or restaurant I would sell their wines! As she was in the back corner, and many people had passed many other drinking pit stops on the way there, I am sure she was getting plenty of promises. Two years later though I was managing a small wine shop in Newport, Or and they were one of the first calls I made to stock the shelves.
Skipping ahead to present day, I’ve enthusiastically sent people to Nathan and Amanda’s growing winery down a rutted gravel road in Wren, Or. Nestled next to one of Oregon’s historic covered bridges they keep a small vineyard and produce dessert style pinot noir and pinot gris, and soon some liqueur! The cozy barn type structure that houses their vineyard caretaker, story writer, and tasting room frequently hosts live music events and various other activities.
I frequently call dessert style wines “candy wine”. The easy drinking high sugar wines that can easily take advantage of a person with their drinkability don’t always have a wide reach when it comes to being appreciated. But the variety here is what makes them special. A series of whites that are sweet and smooth served chilled, butted up against a series of reds that teeter on reminding me (at least) of a light port wine.
I’ve taken many ney sayers by for a sample over the years, and not one of them didn’t find something they liked and very often times purchased.
The comfortable environment, the friendly wines and pourers make this an incredibly inviting stop between the valley and the Oregon coast. Find them on Facebook. Browse their website. Each bottle of wine has a “story” affixed to the top above the cork, enjoy their story while making your own.
Did I mention they have lawn games on nice days?