Ready, set, go: Amaterra plans Jan. 12 opening
Fit with a huge restaurant and bar and operations building, an adjacent vineyard and a tremendous view, Portland's newest winery has set its opening date.
Amaterra Winery opens to the public Jan. 12, 2022.
It'll be unlike anything else in Portland, a wine country feel only minutes from the city.
"'Hospitality on the Hill,' we're calling it," said Jeff Brown, Amaterra's new general manager for restaurant and events. "We're excited to be in the fabric of the community here, especially for the people living close by, who've been watching it develop the past couple years."
Amaterra is located in Portland's West Hills at 8150 S.W. Swede Hill Drive. It sits about three miles from downtown Portland in the West Haven-Sylvan neighborhood, just north of Southwest Barnes Road and overlooking the Tualatin Valley.
"It's very unassuming," Brown added. "Because of the elevation change, you drive a winding road and then come to a winery and it's a massive view.
"We are blessed with a good view," almost like a beautiful Bob Ross painting, he joked.
Most of the area's wineries are further to the west, near Forest Grove and Cornelius, or to the south, around Lake Oswego and West Linn.
"This area is sparse for options," Brown noted.
The winery and restaurant have been in the works for about 10 years, and the project started in 2019.
Amaterra Winery was co-founded by Werner Nistler Jr., a founder of the retirement community chain Touchmark, which has a location on Barnes Road.
Matt Vuylsteke, who worked in the Willamette Valley, is the winemaker. Brown and chief executive officer Marcus Breuer handle business operations.
Jami Flatt is the executive chef; it'll be a full restaurant and a full bar, including beer and wine — including from other wineries — said Brown, who previously served as general manager for food and beverage at The Nines Hotel restaurants.
Flatt worked as executive sous chef at The Nines' Urban Farmer and Departure Restaurant and Lounge.
No doubt, Amaterra wine will be featured. Amaterra will make pinot noir and chardonnay, and Vuylsteke's 51 Weeks label will make pinot gris, petit verdot, grenache, barbera, blends and more.
The 12-acre vineyard on the property produces grapes, planted several years ago, for the Swede Hill pinot noir as an ode to the Swedish immigrants and their descendants who lived in the area from as early as the 19th century. Everything else has been sourced, of course, from Willamette Valley growers.
It's a private club, meaning visitors will be required to pay a one-time social membership ($25) fee upon visiting for the first time, not including tasting fees (to be determined). The social membership fee can be waived with purchase of two or more bottles or by joining a wine club. Brown said Amaterra has already attracted wine club memberships.
Eventually, the winery will produce about 10,000 cases of wine annually. It's ramping up, for now, and doesn't want to be short of wine.
"We're trying to be mindful of how we can be successful and sustainable to meet needs of people," Brown said. "We want to make sure we have enough wine for guests and members. Nothing worse than opening a winery and not having wines because they sold out.
"We're ready to take care of all of our guests. We're definitely ramping up (inventory)."
Amaterra has a 46,000-square-foot building, with event space on the top floor that can accommodate 200 people and an outdoor patio space that could fit 200 people. It includes a gravity-fed winemaking facility to "be more gentle on the grapes," Brown said. There has been an educational component built into the planning of the building and winery.
There has also been food planter boxes installed on the property, with the intent of growing vegetables for use in the restaurant.
Reservations will be taken via a Tock app at AmaterraWines.com; it's the suggested way to plan a visit. Walk-in visitors will be welcome on a limited basis. Brown said COVID-19 protocol has not been finalized.
"The interest has been great," Brown said. "We've got a wonderful staff here, a lot of us worked together in the past. So, there's a culture. It's a great ownership group. And, the fact is we're being mindful of how we're doing everything."
Starting Jan. 12, Amaterra (from the word meaning "for the love of Earth) will be open Wednesday through Sunday for wine tasting and dinner reservations. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it'll be open for wine tasting by appointment only.
For more: www.AmaterraWines.com.
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