Wake Up Call

It was 5:30 am and the phone rings with the voice on the other end saying, "You need to get over here". A friend from the apartment building that houses Pairings Portland Wine Shop was on the line and saying, "You got burglarized and I just set off the alarm".

I opened my left eye to meet my right, and threw on the nearest things available and drove over. Panic had not set it for whatever combo of reasons, but my mojo was more just move and get there.

Would there be wine left? Would there be broken bottles? Would it be a mess? What did they destroy and what got taken? 

I arrived and stepped thru a pile of glass (the back door middle glass panel had been smashed), to be met by 2 police officers. Within a minute, the friend who had called me arrived. 

Pairings Portland Wine Shop's back door at 6 am on May 29, 2014.

Pairings Portland Wine Shop's back door at 6 am on May 29, 2014.


The store looked ok. The wine racks were how I left them. The wine looked to be where I left it. First sigh. Then I saw the computer where I left it. Second sigh. I had remembered the tip jar had a nice flow of singles showing off there muted green. That was missing. That was a monstrous $20. Then I realized the iPad and its stand (which served as my cash register) were gone. OK I got burglarized. No one got hurt. The wine was still there. Third sigh.

Then I realized a valuable possession was gone. I've always loved taking photographs, to the point of a common response from those with me being, enough already. My Nikon D90 was no longer mine. Upsetting, but ultimately in rational brain-land not so bad.

Except, I felt dang weird.

As the police spoke to me, I remember having a hard time listening.  I didn't want to face the feelings of intrusion. The police told me I should expect an additional occurrence, since these had been happening recently in waves. I think I remember my body contracting, but that's kind of about it. 

The door repair folks were at the shop a few hours later and by 3 pm I was open for business as if nothing had happened.

That night, about an hour before closing, two kids poured the remnants of a can of bad beer in our planter on the shops' corner. I went to the door to throw the beer can in their direction (to let them know they had forgotten something), but didn't. I was ready to throw a perfect strike home with the beer can, but I found myself particularly scared and froze, although I did let out a mini insult.

A fair amount of odd numbness and a assortment of pent up moments later it was late July (two months after the act), and the insurance was finally finished.

This was dovetailed with the ending of a project I birthed in 2008 called ConsciousWine. More on that in the next few weeks, but it influences what you see at Pairings, and it going away is like anything you birthed going away. 

Interesting times, and typing this out feels dang good, as will telling some of the tales & lessons of ConsciousWine. 

I'm grateful for what is now and some things are just a pain in the ass! Speaking of pain, I'm sorry if any of you got caught in one of my pent up pain expression rants.

Cheers to a little consciousness where a bit too much darkness found its way into the room. 

PS: Lots of cool new things including an amazing new table :)





Sip-to-Give Tasting: Dominio IV Wines

On Friday May 9th, the Sip-to-Give tasting (5-8 pm at the shop with a non-profit partner receiving a percentage of the proceeds), features one of my favorite Oregon producers, Dominio IV Wines. Our non-profit partner in May is The Oregon Zoo Foundation.


There's lot's of good reasons to support The Oregon Zoo Foundation!

There's lot's of good reasons to support The Oregon Zoo Foundation!


Why do I love Dominio IV so?

1. Biodynamic® farming

2. Natural winemaking.

3. Super great people.

4. Wines that unfold like a good book or story.

5. Crazy good dollar for dollar value. 


The wines to be tasted on Friday May 9 (5-8 pm) include '13 Rose of Tempranillo, '13 Viognier, '10 Pinot Noir Rain on Leaves, '09 Tempranillo Midnight Sky & '08 Syrah The Purple Flower. 


Jeff Weissler (Pairings Portland) amazed again at Patrick Reuter's (Dominio IV winemaker) amazing wines and philosophy towards it all. 

Jeff Weissler (Pairings Portland) amazed again at Patrick Reuter's (Dominio IV winemaker) amazing wines and philosophy towards it all. 


Below is a little piece I wrote when visiting their estate vineyard, Three Sleeps, in 2011. I've included an image from the property between each paragraph. 

Hope you get the chance to meet winemaker Patrick Reuter and taste their wines. I go out of my way to make sure there's a stash of Dominio IV Wine at Pairings Portland regularly. 


Driving up from Mosier (a few miles east of Hood River, in the gorgeously, wonderful Columbia River Gorge, farmland starts to appear. The farms cut into the forest leaving biodiversity as part of the landscape.

A few miles up the road, I turn at Dominio IV’s mailbox. There’s no sign, just a gate, rolling hills, birds, and a feeling… a calming feeling. Wildflowers abound and a sense of balance.

As I see vineyards, there’s a wildness amongst and around them. A sense of their vines and home incorporated into nature, which feels like a respect for the whole of which they are part.

The vines seem happy. The growth between the rows and around the vineyards looks like they all work well together.

As I sit on Liz & Glen’s porch writing this I hear the wind and horses on the farm to the left. I see the Northern side of the Columbia Gorge past several layers of hills and the top of 12,000+ foot Mt. Adams…I think I just fell in love.

All of this comes with the knowledge that I already love their wines. We can taste it when the farm and the land are treated this way. The energy of this place lives in the wines of Dominio IV (Liz, Glen, Patrick & Leigh), and is part of what makes being in the wine business a pleasure & a gift.

 Supporting farms like this one are a step in keeping land vital for future generations.

*Syrah, Tempranillo & Viognier are grown at Three Sleeps Vineyard, which is Demeter Certified Biodynamic®.


OK I'm gonna start blogging, for better or worse here it comes!

The 5-wine Sip-to-Give tasting being offered this Friday ($15 per person) will include a couple of older wines and an add-on wine that is much older ($10 add-on)!!!

We'll be featuring the wines of Catherine & Pierre Breton from France's Loire Valley and the sub-region (appellation) Bourgueil. The wines (with the exception of the bubbly we'll be pouring), are all made from 100% Cabernet Franc.



I fell in love with this producer on a trip to France about a decade ago. Their "Nuits d'Ivresse" (Night of Drunkenness), was the first wine I had tasted, with no sulfites added anywhere in the winemaking, that totally rocked it for me! I also loved their dog (which they called, rather accurately, "Le Petit Chien").

Catherine and Pierre Breton make inspiring wine with such integrity that tasting their wines brings out my curiosity keeping me present to the adventure of each sip. They embraced a holistic form of farming called Biodynamic® farming starting in 1994. They have become international icons for the natural wine movement in an area where the climate and soil can make organic viticulture difficult.


Tasting Lineup (You'll taste 5 wines for the $15 tasting fee):

Vouvray Brut La Dilettante ($27)

'12 Trinch! ($25)

'11 Nuits d'Ivresse ($36)

'07 Bourgueil Clos Senechal (n/a)

'97 Bourgueil Les Perrieres (n/a)


Add-On Wine for the Tasting ($10 additional fee):

'76 Chinon Beaumont (n/a)

If the '76 is corked, there's an '83 as backup :)

The expectations around what the aroma & taste will offer when opening an older wine, is half the enjoyment, and angst!

The expectations around what the aroma & taste will offer when opening an older wine, is half the enjoyment, and angst!


Here's additional information on each of the wines that will be in the tasting:

Vouvray Brut La Dilettante: 

While Catherine and Pierre work together in the vines and the cellar for all the Breton wines, the Vouvrays are Catherine’s pet project.  The wine comes from 50-year old Chenin Blanc vines planted in flinty soil.  A very gentle pressing is followed by a short vinification in stainless steel.  There is no maloactic fermentation and the wine is bottled in the spring following harvest.  Made for immediate consumption. 

Bourgueil Trinch: 

“Trinch” is named after a German expression meaning “cheers” championed by the poet and philosopher Rabelais.  Trinch is a Cabernet Franc from younger vines vinified in stainless steel with a cold maceration.  It is made for early consumption and typically has very accessible fruit, soft tannins and low alcohol.  Bottled in the Spring after harvest.

Bourgueil Nuits d’Ivresse: 

Nuits d’Ivresse “Drunken Nights” is the name of a special cuvée of selected old vines from top clay and limestone sites in Bourgueil.  The wine is vinified in barriques and kept in wood for a year then bottled the following December a little over a year after harvest.  This wine is an homage to the methods of Jules Chauvet and does not see a drop of sulfur throughout its lifetime (harvest, vinification, bottling).  Therefore it must be drunk quickly or stored in the dark at a proper temperature (14°C or less).

Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal:     

Clos Sénéchal is one of the top two red Bourgueil wines produced by the Bretons.  It is from a parcel on the hillside above the plateau of Galichets, where clay and limestone soil sits atop the famed tuffeau of the Loire, the chalky white limestone quarried to build many of the famed châteaux of the region. Sénéchal is macerated in open wood vats and fermented and aged in wooden foudres.  It is bottled without fining or filtration after 18 months of aging. 

Bourgueil Les Perrières:    

This is the Breton’s greatest red, from one of the most prized hillside parcels in Bourgueil.  The terroir is siliceous clay and limestone, and old vines give very low yields of 20 hectoliters/hectare on average.  The maceration is done in open wood vats and the fermentation and élevage is done in 550-L barriques, a variable percentage of which are new.  The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered after two full years in wood. 


So what exactly is a Sip-to-Give tasting? 

Every Friday (at Pairings Portland Wine Shop) there's a 5 wine tasting flight ($15) from 1 winery or producer. There's snacks available for a small additional fee. We'll have some Olympic Provisions sausages as one of the pairing elements available.

You're also welcome to bring some food with you!

The weekly tastings start at 5  (this tasting I'll be pouring by 4) & go till at least 8 pm. 

Each month there's a changing non-profit partner and 5% of the proceeds from these Friday tastings, plus 5% of all shop sales (from 5 pm-close) go to the non-profit partner of the Month.

For April the non-profit partner is the KERNS NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION


Oregon Wine Press

WOOOOOOT!!!  There's an article about us in this months Oregon Wine Press!  It's not online yet but you can pick it up on newsstands (do they still have those?) now.  We'll post it here when it's available online.