Amaterra, in Portland’s West Hills, features a winery and restaurant. ##PHOTO BY BD AERIAL
red wine chicken
with potato
purée, roasted
mushrooms, pearl
onions, bacon and
roasted chicken
Amaterra’s dining
room features
warm wood, stone
and floor-to-ceiling
winemaker Matt
harvest crew processes

On the Menu

Winery-restaurant opens in Portland’s West Hills

BY OWP Staff

After many years of planning, planting and construction — plus a pandemic wrench thrown in for good measure — the much-anticipated Amaterra Winery has finally opened in Portland’s West Hills.

On a fir-lined slope off Swede Hill Road, Amaterra makes a big splash onto the wine scene with its urban estate and chef-driven restaurant. Translated to “for the love of the earth,” Amaterra is a passion project for co-founder Werner Nistler, also founder of Touchmark, a national chain of retirement communities.

“Amaterra is not only a reflection of our love for Oregon wine, but also an appreciation for all of the region’s beauty and bounty,” says Nistler. “As we are able to gather together, this property — with its great expanse and stunning views — is the perfect destination for those looking to take in the fruits of the Willamette Valley ... fewer than three miles from downtown Portland.”

Amaterra contains all the pieces of the winemaking puzzle with an estate 12-acre vineyard and gravity-flow 10,000-case winery. Longtime Willamette Valley winemaker Matt Vuylsteke leads the cellar, crafting primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Wines from Vuylsteke’s 51 Weeks Winemaking are also available for tasting.

“I’m so proud to finally be able to talk about this project, which we’ve been working on since 2012,” says Vuylsteke. “Having the opportunity to produce wines from world-class vineyards with state-of-the-art equipment, and our incredibly talented and supportive team has truly been a dream of mine since I started in winemaking 24 years ago.”

Other star team members include Jeff Brown, the restaurant and events general manager, and Jami Flatt, the executive chef — both Brown and Flatt come to Amaterra from Sage Restaurant Group, specifically Urban Farmer and Departure at The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.

“Food has a unique way of bringing people together and fostering a sense of family and friendship,” explains Flatt. “I am eager to continue building on my relationships with farmers and friends of the past, as well as cultivating new bonds with the people who work so hard to grow, raise and nurture our food that we have yet to meet.”

The seasonal food menu features house wine suggestions. For the roasted red wine chicken (with potato purée, roasted mushrooms, pearl onions, bacon and roasted chicken jus), the winery recommends the 2016 Nemarniki Vineyard Pinot Noir. The winter vegetable risotto (with roasted mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, leek relish, Parmesan and tarragon) calls for the 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Other eye-catching dishes include spiced pork osso buco, a prime 10-ounce New York steak, cedar-roasted salmon, not to mention a signature smash burger and meatballs smothered in white wine-leek cream, crispy sunchokes, red currants and dill.

Robbie Wilson, the owner of Portland’s now-closed Botanist, leads the Amaterra cocktail program with concoctions such as Ode to The Hallenbeck (Woodford Reserve bourbon, simple syrup and bitters) and Aviation (Plymouth gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur and crème de violette).

Amaterra is a private winery, so visitors must be accompanied by at least one member. But no need to panic; social memberships are available for a one-time $25 fee when guests make their first reservation on the winery website. The fee can be applied toward the purchase of two or more bottles of wine, or toward the first wine shipment if a customer elects to join the Amaterra Wine Club, which is organized into three levels: Terroir, Belle Vue or Le Champ.

No matter if visitors are tasting wine, enjoying a meal or even a cocktail and small bites at the bar, Amaterra promises to be a lively place, with indoor and outdoor event spaces available to lease.

So, let the celebrations begin, starting with the launch of such a complex hospitality business during a pandemic, no less. Cheers to the Amaterra team.

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