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D'Anu Wines opens tasting room in downtown Hillsboro
There's hardly a job in the restaurant industry Joe Williams hasn't done.
He's worked in resorts everywhere from the Mexican border to Alaska, his home state. He worked on the Oregon coast and a bistro in Portland. He was cleaning tables at 14, and at 16 knew he was going to own a restaurant someday.
Now 54, Williams has taken a dramatic turn in his career with the opening of downtown Hillsboro's only wine bar, D'Anu Wines, 173 N.E. Third Ave.
He closed his last restaurant in 2007 and moved into the wine business, working with McMinnville-based Panther Creek Cellars and learning the trade.
"There's no other adrenaline rush like it in the world (like running a restaurant)," Williams said. "It's something that came naturally to me. I had a great time doing it, but it was also something — this is how my wife explained it — that the way I go at it, in another 10 to 15 years I'd be dead."
Williams' father worked for a beer and liquor distributor in Alaska, and even as a teenager, Williams could rattle off how many calories were in a can of Michelob Light. But now, his tastes have changed.
Williams, who has lived in Hillsboro since 2002, flits from describing the balance of a pinot gris to strawberry and watermelon notes in a sangiovese. His career switch has grown into a self supportive business with a varied range of labels and steady production of 1,600 cases per year — nearly 20,000 bottles of wine.
He sources wine grapes from around the region: Walla Walla, Washington's Columbia Valley, the Willamette Valley and others. The wine is produced in Portland, bottled in McMinnville and served by the glass at the winery.
D'Anu offers nine labels, in addition to select labels, and a small selection of wine bar-appropriate snacks.
"We have a little food, but no cooking," Williams said, laughing. "I've sworn an oath not to ever get back into any form of cooking on the professional level."
After decades of marriage, Williams' wife said his seven day a week, 14 to 18 hours per day work schedule was "ridiculous," he said.
Now, every time he wants to spend money on a new piece for the wine business, he jokingly threatens to go back into cooking to win his wife's support.
Williams sees D'anu as a place to relax with a glass of wine after work, he said, or a place to visit after dinner. Someday, he envisions a full-blown restaurant with someone else managing the food and most of the wines on tap, but Williams is happy with the wine bar the way it is.
There's a good neighborhood vibe, he said, and he hopes to use the facility to host group events and parties or a tie-in with Decadent Creations — next door.
Williams will welcome a guest winery, brewery and cider each month. For September, Williams plans to include J. Scott Cellars and a beer and cider selection from Lucky Lab Brewing Company.
D'Anu Wines tasting room and wine bar is open from 1 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.