Portteus Winery, Yakima
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How did you get in the wine business? Great question. one I have been asked and answered at least one million times! So here is the real story; When I was 19 I bought a houseboat on Lake Union very near Fremont. I was too young to buy alcohol and since I entertained a lot I went over to Aetna bottling & supply on Rainier Ave and bought supplies to make beer. Portteus Brewery on the houseboat was formed. My uncle Howard made beer and wine that he let me taste as a youngster so I guess I got the idea from him. I quit making beer 3 years later when a batch blew up in the upper cabinets and the whole kitchen had to be torn out!
I liked wine too, my parents were into wine in the 60's so it seemed that wine was often on the table! After my junior year at UW i flew to Europe and bought a Norton motorcycle and spent 4+ months traveling from Spain to Norway. I also toured every wine region in Europe buying wine to drink at night in the campgrounds. 13 cents a bottle in Bordeaux and less in Spain!
The turning point occurred at my little brothers 21st birthday when my dad pulled out a 1953 Nuit St. George (21 years old). I just flipped! I had never had the likes of this wine and I was determined to learn how they made it so much better than anything I had ever tasted. I began visiting Napa and Sonoma soaking up any and all information I could find and the more I learned the more I thought I should make wine. In 1977 we began looking for opportunities to grow grapes and make wine. First we looked in CA. then in May of 1980 we learned of pioneering grape growing in Yakima Valley. Wow, we can do this in our home state? In June of 1980 we began a search for the perfect vineyard site. We found our current site in April of 1981 and bought it!
In Feb. 1982 our first 8 acres were planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Then we planted all the other varieties which weren't supposed to have succeeded either. There are now 74 acres invested in wine grapes.
In 1981 Washington State had 13 wineries. Only 2 or 3 of those were in the Yakima Valley. In 2009 there are over 600. Our advice to approximately the last 500 of them is to find something else to spend their money on. Of course this is what they told us in 1980. Who listens?
When the economy is booming, we have lovely, chic wines. When the economy is not, we have lovely cheap wines. We are always planting something new, acquiring stray dogs, cats and people, creating voluptuous blends, enjoying life and welcoming each gorgeous day in paradise. We are grateful to God for each vintage. Life is a gift. We'll drink to that.
Portteus Winery Reviews
Next on the trip was to the Portteus Winery. It also is located in Zillah. We were met by Rolando Morales and he did a great job of leading us through a monumental tasting!!! We must have tasted 15 wi... more »
Paul Portteus is a busy winemaker: on his own 70+ acres he grows, and makes wine from, just about every red grape common to North American winemaking. A visit here will be very instructive to anyone w... more »
Still my favorite winery in Yakima Valley. Bold earthy reds including some less common varietals, a stable of consistent blends and exceptionally friendly staff. If I go to one winery, this is it hands down.
A very friendly group of people. Amazing views, great service. Check them out!
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