Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, and though certain spots generate all the buzz, there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders — ourselves included — just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food luminaries to share with us their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Given that the Pearl's Vino Paradiso wine bar and bistro boasts an extensive cellar list, it's no surprise that its head chef Paul Losch, who once studied under Jean-Georges Vongerichten, loves wine. A lot. Here he shares one of his Willamette Valley "discoveries," making his "Dining Confidential" actually more of a "Wine-ing Confidential." Drink up!
"When my wife, Moira, and I head down to wine country we always try to visit somewhere new, but keep a list of regular favorites. Amongst those, the place that comes to mind and mouth the most frequently since our first visit is Winderlea Vineyards in the Dundee Hills. While Winderlea has set up shop on one of the oldest vineyard locations in the area, they only produced their first vintage in 2006. They are a focused producer, turning out several pinot noirs, a rose and a chardonnay only. The namesake Winderlea Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir & their current release Pinot Noir Rose are recent favorites. And, while you will find them at a couple of wine shops and several restaurants in Portland, most of their production is held for sale at the tasting room and to their wine-club members.
"The owners, Bill & Donna, are often in the tasting room along with the tasting room manager, Reid Oliver; all of whom are friendly, approachable and very knowledgeable. Not only are they well-versed on their own wines, but they are also familiar with many of the other vineyards, restaurants, and other businesses throughout the valley and can always offer up a great suggestion for a new place to try. They also usually have a couple of extremely laid back and friendly dogs hanging about. It all just feels very comfortable and welcoming. The tasting room itself is beautiful. The space is modern and minimal, with tons of natural light, a few tables, and a roll up glass back wall that opens onto a great deck that offers one of those perfect wine country views over the vineyards. The location is close enough to Portland to be a good choice for a quick run out to the valley.
"And, through the summer they host chefs from around the area on Fridays for a summer lunch series (full disclosure, I'll be doing two lunches there, but had frequented them for a while before they asked). Last year they had a few different PDX food carts come down to do a little food and wine feast in the parking lot, too. Signing up for their emails or following on Facebook will keep you up-to-date on what they have going on. So, that would be my recommendation of a must try place near Portland. A rising star in wine country, for sure."
· Winderlea Vineyards [Official Site]
· All Previous Dining Confidential Coverage [Eater PDX]