Wineries you NEED to know: Enso, Portland OR
Portland gets an interesting rap for being a weird city, full of characters, eccentrics, and misfits. Its a city that in its heart, celebrates the creativity of its residents. Portland encourages people to be who they are, and never afraid of expressing that in whatever way you see fit.
I can think of no better way that the expression of what Portland is all about than in the wines that come out of the city. Traditional wineries that are close to the vineyards are all about the Terroir, the expression of the land, and Urban Wineries bring to the table so much more than that. I realized this the moment I set foot in Enso, that the winery brought out the spirit of the neighborhood, the people, and the community. Enso is more than a winery, its a community spot, and you can certainly taste that in the wine. It is all part of a local first strategy that reinforces the evolution of the tasting room from a place to taste wine, to the communal focal point.
At the heart of the operation is Ryan Sharp, the owner and winemaker. Ryan was gracious enough to get on the phone with me, to talk about wine, and I ended up shooting the shit with him for over an hour. Long story short, we both REALLY fucking love our wine. But what impressed me most is that Ryan was not someone who is comfortable with sitting still. He loves to experiment, try new things, bring out different wines. Ever heard of Counoise? Me neither, before I met Ryan, who was convinced that it was not a mere blending wine but could stand strong by itself. The result? A fantastic wine that was super fun to drink. Different, and yet familiar. Before I visited ENSO Oregon was a land of Pinot Noir, and nothing else. Ryan and ENSO showed me much more, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, a co ferment of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Hell yeh!
Enso is a Portland gem, that brings everything that the city has to offer and turns it into art in a bottle. People talk about Terroir being a theory of how the environment affects a wine, the soil, the weather etc. but often neglect the mysticism of how the people and the neighborhood affect it. The love, the joy, the blood, the sweat, the tears, all come through. It gets lost from big wineries, but at Enso its as close as you could possibly get. Its an emotional tie, a friend, a neighbor, a home away from home.