When you’re in the wine industry in any function, at any level, people come at you left and right with glasses and the instruction, “Here, try this.” Birthdays are interesting because most of the greetings admonish you to drink copious amounts of wine, presumably on someone else’s tab. The number of times I heard, “Happy Birthday! Drink some wine!” were innumerable. I certainly did everything I could.

Although it’s more likely that the proximity of Thanksgiving and it’s potential for wine sales in the near future was the reason for so many wine tastings last weekend, I prefer to think they were planned for my own edification. Let the birthday weekend begin.

Saturday the 14th

Vino wine shop hosted a half dozen winemakers who brought a total of 33 wines for four lovely hours in the afternoon. I rode my bike across town and of course needed a beer after that. (Pinot Noir is NOT thirst quenching immediately after exercise.) So I stopped at a food cart pod down the street for a characteristically Portland experience: beer served from the side of an old camper trailer called the Captured Beer Bus, next to picnic tables and a smoky fire in a brazier, on a rainy afternoon. Bliss.

Since it wasn’t a “trade tasting,” there was a lot less spitting and a lot more drinking. I wiggled my way through the small spaces between the display wines and the full house. Tasting notes were a challenge because people kept bumping into me, but I’m a trooper. My favorite usual suspects were there: John Grochau, Marcus Goodfellow and Cameron. I was introduced to Cameron when I worked at Portland City Grill a dozen years ago. We had the Clos Electrique Blanc on the winelist and I had the pleasure of explaining the name meant, “Electric Fence” a number of times. (However inelegant, it kept the deer out.) The joke never gets old and the wine doesn’t either; always great.

I’m always looking for an up and comer, and I found one: Joe Swick was there showing the fruits of his 800 case operation. His unfiltered blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris was an approachable, quaffable wine that may never win an award but it will definitely win an audience. I thought was just plain fun.  After tasting his scrumptiously spicy Pinot Noir (50% Medici/Cancilla fruit—big guns, those), I asked for another splash.

After that, a post-wine-tasting slice of pizza and a beer at the previously mentioned food carts, and a little bit of record hunting up and down the street.