Let’s play a little word association game. I say “winery” and “tree-lined drive leading to quaint or palatial tasting room surrounded by lovingly maintained vines” probably comes to mind. A concrete building smack dab in the middle of a bustling multi-use neighborhood in Oregon’s largest city may not make the visual norm, but the wine being produced in these urban wineries is no less award-worthy.
Three years ago Southeast Wine Collective set up shop in a 5,000-square-foot building in the lively Division-Clinton neighborhood of Portland with the goal of providing a space for startup vintners to incubate their wine label in a collaborative setting. It was the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Tom Monroe and Kate Norris, after spending a year and a half in France to learn winemaking and enjoying success with their own label — Division Winemaking Company.
Today Southeast Wine Collective is home to 10 resident winemakers who produce more than 20 different varietals and, thanks to a cozy wine bar, the results can be tasted via a dizzying menu selection which also includes overseas wines from friends met along the way and a smattering of other local wines not produced onsite.
Monroe and Norris are keenly aware that wine enjoys company. To that end, a food menu has been assembled by chef Althea Grey Potter that features tasty treats to satisfy a range of palates, from a deviled egg flight and cheeses sourced from nearby Cheese Bar to sesame beef lettuce wraps and smoked duck confit. Food is further elevated at regularly scheduled Cuisini?res community dinners which focus on seasonally available dishes and include appropriate wine pairings.
Southeast Wine Collective is not just making wine production accessible to small vintners. The space purposely draws patrons into the process, as well, with only some glass windows separating the wine bar from the production area. Harvest is the busiest time of the year at any winery and, over the last several weeks, guests have enjoyed watching grapes be brought in from area vineyards by the truckful, winemakers performing punch downs and pump overs and all other aspects of the vinification process.