House Spirits’ sleek distillery and tasting room in Portland reflects a familiar concept for wineries.

Blissfully Offbeat

February’s unusual twist on spirits

By Hilary Berg

After taking a month off to publish the Oregon Wine Almanac, Oregon Wine Press returns to its regular format, yet the main feature is not so regular, at least for OWP.

It covers a subject that’s been pitched to me by writers and suggested by readers for years now; I’ve always hesitated, for obvious reasons, until now.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

Veering off our normal course, OWP’s February edition is focusing on craft distilling, an extremely popular industry that’s recently exploded here in Oregon.

Beautifully photographed on the cover — thank you, Kathryn Elsesser — Ransom is the perfect entrée to spirits because of its ties to both beverage industries.

Of course, other connections are clear, including brandy itself, a beverage made by distilling wine. In fact, the term “brandy” is short for “brandywine,” deriving from the Dutch word “brandewijn,” which comes from the phrase “gebrande wijn,” literally translating to “burned wine.”

Italian-style grappa also shares an affinity to wine; it’s made by distilling pomace (skins, pulp, seeds and stems) left over after pressing winegrapes during crush.

Even whiskey can be linked as well; some distilleries finish aging in used wine barrels, including Ransom with its new Rye, Barley, Wheat Whiskey — see cover.

Rest assured knowing OWP will be back on track next month, back to wine on its cover. But, I have to admit, it feels good ordering off the menu and trying something unexpected from behind the bar every once in a while.

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