The Battle Creek tasting room showcases a sleek interior design in its new Pearl District space. ##Photo provided

Battle Creek Rises

Willamette vineyard opens tasting room in The Pearl

By Neal D. Hulkower

With the opening of its first-ever tasting room, just north of N.W. Johnson Street in Portland’s Pearl District, Battle Creek Cellars has branched out from its home in the Willamette Valley. The striking 2,000-square-foot facility opened to the public on Nov. 2. 

In regard to the name, Battle Creek was the site of the first conflict between tribes and settlers in the Willamette Valley.  

The handsomely appointed multi-use area features a bar with limited seating and indoor and outdoor tables. Without heading to wine country, visitors can enjoy daily tastings and an assortment of light food options, including the obligatory charcuterie. 

The first of three estate vineyards, Battle Creek Vineyard was planted in 1998 in Turner by one of the future founders of Seattle-based Precept Wine, which since its founding in 2003, owns the namesake winery. Yamhela Vineyard planted in 2007 in Yamhill and Roe Vineyard planted in 2008 in Newberg add diversity of soil types, elevation, orientation and clones to the winery’s sources of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Some fruit, including other varieties like Riesling, is purchased. 

Since 2005, the wines have been made at the 12th & Maple Winery in Dundee. In 2014, Sarah Cabot became the winemaker. She trained at South Seattle Community College’s Northwest Wine Academy and went on to work as assistant winemaker at Belle Pente Vineyard and later as principal winemaker at Omero Cellars. She also served as assistant winemaker at WillaKenzie Estate. 

Battle Creek produces 13,000 cases annually of which 10,000 are the value-priced Unconditional tier. Other bottlings include a reserve tier and a single-vineyard tier comprised of Pinot Noirs made from each of the three estate vineyards and a méthode Champenoise Blanc de Noirs made from Yamhela Vineyard Pinot at Gruet in New Mexico, another Precept brand. The nicely balanced 2014 vintage estate wines were among those being poured. The Amphora Series, a tasting room exclusive, features the results of Cabot’s experimental fermentations in a 500-liter amphora from Italy, including a carbonic red blend and a Riesling.

Cabot, a Portland resident, looks forward to spending time in the tasting room, not only mingling with visitors and acting as a most knowledgeable brand ambassador but also doing blending trials on site. She explains, “This space is going to be more than just a wine tasting room; it’s going to be a place where people can unwind after work, meet up with friends before dinner and maybe even watch a big game on the projector screen. Pinot Noir is our foundation, but we’ll have some really different limited-run wines that are exclusively available at the tasting room for people to experience.”

Battle Creek Cellars’ shiny urban “wineshed” is a smart new bauble in the Pearl.


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