Division Wines’ Will Prouty Shares His Top 5 Holiday Wines to Try Now
Around the bend of winter 2016, Southeast staple Division Wines made a quiet transformation from neighborhood wine shop to a destination wine bar. In the six years since first opening, the shop’s stretch of Division Street has transformed into Portland’s bustling “restaurant row” with culinary institutions like Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok, Ava Gene’s, Bollywood Theater, Olympic Provisions’ OP Wurst, and, of course, Oprah’s favorite Salt & Straw, all just a few paces away from the humble vintners alcove, a treasured spot featuring some of the city’s greatest tasting events where customers regularly meet and drink from some of the region and world’s greatest winemakers.
Division Wines owners Danyelle and Will Prouty are no strangers to the hospitality business. Danyelle and Will have 30 and 35 years experience, respectively, working in restaurants—Will, positioned at downtown Portland’s South Park for the past 19 years, running their esteemed wine program for the most recent 13.
“What first attracted me to wine over 30 years ago still defines the shop today,” Will shares, whose known by importers and winemakers for his cunning wine knowledge. “Wine is connected to everything around it. Wine is farming, science, politics, religion, history, ambition, ego, grace, beauty, calamity, and more.”
As several months ticked by between February and May 2016, neighborhood residents—both stopping in for a bottle or simply walking by—saw the couple painting, sanding, and sawing while unwrapping the interior of the space at 3564 SE Division Street, reclaiming the near century old building that houses their wine store, wine bar hybrid.
Chiseling away to salvage beautiful grey exposed brick and wood column work, in their words, “paying homage to the men who first built this place,” the two took aim at cozy seating and romantic ambiance steered by a trademark Gobi horseshoe Oregon-sourced black walnut bar, all engulfed by floor to ceiling windows overlooking the intersection of Division Street and 35th where neighbors Cibo and SE Wine Collective entertain guests as sunsets hover over Portland’s West Hills.
So, just in time for the holidays VIRIDE saddled up with Will Prouty to learn his five favorite wines he believes you’d be crazy not to try.
G.D.Vajra, Moscato d’Asti $18
“You would have to be fundamentally angry to resist the nearly perfect freshness of this slightly sparkling version of the naturally aromatic moscato grape varietal. Peaches, apricots, orange zest, and spritz. If your grumpy Uncle attends this year, have the kids pin him to the Lazyboy while you pour this down his throat.”
Perucchi, Sweet Vermouth $20
“This little gem from Barcelona is an awesome companion for the Pumpkin Pie. It is cocktail worthy as well, but the rich warmth of baking spices that distinguish this vermouth snuggles right up to pie. If there’s gingerbread in the room, try the white vermouth from this same producer.”
Paetra, “S”, Riesling, Eola - Amity, OR 2015 $23
“I know, I know, “Reisling"…you don’t drink sweet. Do this for me. Buy this wine. Key up the song, “Close your eyes”, by Peaches and Herb, which by the way are both represented prominently in this wine. Turn the lights down, and drink a glass of this while you drift into a blissful state of perfect happiness.”
Guillén, Esteban, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR 2015 $23
“Run, do not walk, to buy this wine. It is one of the great values in the valley. Jesús is the second generation in his family to work in the vineyards of the Willamette Valley. He is the winemaker at White Rose, and Guillén is his family label which he makes with his brother, Dagoberto. 100% whole cluster, native yeast fermentation, and extended lees aging deliver a beautifully earthy, savory, expressive wine with a pronounced connection to the soil. There’s enough going on here to stretch beyond normal food pairings for the varietal.”
McKinlay, Special Selection, Willamette Valley, OR 2014 $38
“Matt Kinne is likely the most important winemaker in Oregon you will never meet. He is a mythical figure most likely to be found farming the vineyards he tends or toiling in the cellar. Without running down the checklist of all the things Matt does, and maybe more importantly, doesn't do, these wines are as pure and honest as wine gets. They are revealed and utterly beautiful. The 2014 Special Selection displays the eager fruit of the vintage, but benefits from the ever-present acidity and elegance present in all of his wines. With layers of fresh raspberry and a creamy textured length—well done, “horse racing dad.”
About Division Wines
Division Wines is a neighborhood wine shop and wine bar with over 800 bottles from near and far with rotating small plates. The focus is on expressive wines, made with healthy and thoughtful practices from off the beaten path. As with the food offered, how the wines are made is always a consideration. Sustainability, conscious farming and the winemaking process are high priorities; happy, healthy vines come from happy, healthy soil, resulting in the fullest possibility of expression. Half of the Division Wines space is committed to retail shopping and the other half is a full service wine bar. On one side Division Wines shares the story, and on the other, they bring it to life.
Every third Thursday, Division Wines donates 10% of sales to a worthy cause.