The main reason for my trip to Portland was to attend a conference filled with awesome and inspiring people. These are the type of people with an entrepreneurial mindset. People who have embraced their creativity and do not just believe it is possible but actually ARE doing what they want to do.
After the conference, I continued to meet awesome and inspiring people. I get the feeling that Portland is a city that grows and attracts smart, mindful, creative, ambitious people.
On one of the last days of my trip, I decided to have a quiet, early evening. I took a stroll in the Southeast Division neighborhood looking for a place to grab a small bite to eat and a nice glass of red. Just off the main street, I noticed a large garage door open to a warehouse area with people milling about.
It turned out to be a private wine tasting for a local company (best company event ever, by the way), but they suggested I go inside to their cozy tasting bar.
SE Wine Collective and The Urban Winery
While enjoying a delicious cheese plate and a few tastings, I chatted with three staff members pouring wines, and I discovered I was in an urban winery.
The urban winery is a relatively new trend where winemakers locate their winemaking facility in an urban setting rather than in the traditional rural setting near the vineyards. In some cases, the grapes are from their own vineyards, but in many cases, the grapes are bought, and this allows the winemakers to select exactly what they want and specialize in the winemaking rather than the grape growing.
Meet Tom and Kate, Entrepreneurial Geniuses
(and Cutest Couple Ever)
SE Wine Collective takes the urban winery a step further. This is home to five different wineries owned by winemakers who want to sustainably grow their businesses and have a commercial outlet to bring their product directly to consumers.
I didn’t realize I was talking to one of the owners of SE Wine Collective when I started chatting with Tom about what types of wines I enjoy. Our conversation led to him giving me a tour of the warehouse facility where I met his wife Kate.
At one point in our lively conversation about how they learned about winemaking, lived in France for a year, and started this business in Portland, Tom ran to his nearby home to get a bottle of one his own Division Winemaking Company wines that he insisted I had to try. (They were out of it at the tasting bar.)
He was right on. I loved their Béton.
And I was drinking it with the man who actually made it. How cool is that?
So back to the smart business plan…
The space and equipment needed for making wine is not cheap. So Tom and Kate rent their space and equipment to other winemakers. This helps them manage their expenses, and it helps a winemaker avoid the high risk of making his own longer-term investment.
In addition, having a tasting bar allows new winemakers to get their product directly to consumers without having to work with wine distributors who are not very likely to work with an unknown, small production start-up.
My evening at SE Wine Collective and meeting Kate and Tom was not just fun and delicious but also inspiring. I really enjoy being around people who have a passion for something and figure out a creative way to build a business that works and helps others do the same.
If you enjoy wine and want to support local businesses, a visit to SE Wine Collective is a must. When I move to Portland, I’m quite certain I will become a regular. And I will make Tom and Kate be my best friends
For those who like a lot of variety, they do feature other winemakers beyond those that are part of the collective. The menu is quite impressive. If you want to take a few bottles back home with you, they will package up the wine to be safely checked on a plane.
I cannot wait to enjoy three special bottles with friends.