Amaterra Winery Transforms Portland Wine Scene

Written by Dena Roché

September 12, 2022
Home >> Eat & Drink >> Wines and Spirits >> Amaterra Winery Transforms Portland Wine Scene

Amaterra Winery, a 12-acre estate located just minutes from downtown Portland, is transforming the Portland wine scene.

In Oregon, the Willamette Valley is traditionally the place for wine. That is until Amaterra Winery swept into Portland this January and brought a bit of wine country to the city.

It’s hard to believe that the lush, comprehensive Amaterra Winery is just a few minutes from downtown. The expansive 12-acre estate features vineyards, an outdoor event lawn, and several patios and decks to enjoy a killer view of the Tualatin Valley. A sophisticated modern main building houses the winery and chef-driven restaurant.

Unlike the wineries of the Willamette Valley, Amaterra Winery is a private winery and social club. While at least one person in each party must be a member, social memberships are available to everyone when booking a tasting or dinner reservation. You can choose to apply the $25 membership fee to purchase two bottles of wine or the first shipment of wine through the wine club.

Amaterra Winery and Portland Wineries.

You can’t beat the view at Amaterra Winery. Photo courtesy Gregor Halenda

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Swirl and Sip at Amaterra Winery

During the day, Amaterra Winery offers the traditional wine tasting one expects to find at a vineyard. The tasting flight includes two whites and two reds. It also features wine from the Amaterra label and its sister winery, 51Weeks. The vineyards onsite are primarily pinot noir with a bit of chardonnay and are featured in the Amaterra Chardonnay and Amaterra Pinot Noir. Other grapes are sourced throughout the northern Willamette Valley. By sourcing grapes from various soil types and elevations, Winemaker Matt Vuylsteke creates more complex and layered wines.

After a tasting, if the weather cooperates, head to the L1 Bar & Terrace to drink in the view with a bottle of your favorite wine. Amaterra Winery offers creative boards to pair with their wines. These boards go beyond the traditional charcuterie with selections like seafood, burrata, and veggie boards.

According to the restaurant general manager, Jeff Brown, Amaterra will soon offer tours of its patent-pending winery that uses bridge cranes to allow one elevation drop to act as a multiple-level, gravity-flow winemaking facility. This gentle method is ideal for the thin-skinned pinot noir grape. Amaterra Winery also eliminated conveyors, augers, and aeration pumps, which are harsh on the grapes.

A tasting at Amaterra Winery and Portland Wineries.

Wine Tasting at Amaterra Winery. Photo courtesy of Amaterra Winery

Collaborative Approach

There’s no better way to enjoy Amaterra Winery and its wine than dinner at its chef-driven restaurant. Chef Jami Flatt and Vuylsteke work in concert to create an experience with thoughtfully crafted dishes paired perfectly with specific wines in the Amaterra portfolio. Having the winery on site makes this an easy endeavor.

With the bounty of produce and proteins in the Pacific Northwest, Chef Flatt sticks with a menu derived from local ingredients, including Amaterra’s gardens. He visits at least two farmer’s markets weekly, where he has cultivated relationships with local suppliers from his time in the kitchens at The Nines Hotel, Urban Farmer, and Departure. Working with what’s fresh and in season, the menu at Amaterra changes regularly.

The seasonal menu at Amaterra Winery.

The seasonal menu at Amaterra is crafted with its wine in mind. Photo by John Valls

Wine Country Dining

On a recent visit to the restaurant, I was happy that I braved the summer heat and elected to dine al fresco on the restaurant’s deck. From our table, I could see the Chehalem Mountains in the distance. From this space, we could hear the bubbling brook below. It provided a better background soundtrack than the unrelenting music beating in many restaurants today.

We were there to sample dishes from the late summer menu. My husband started with the Swede Hill Meatballs with white wine leek cream, salt-pressed cucumber, red currant, and dill. He enjoyed this paired with the suggested 2018 Amaterra Pinot Noir. The berry notes and good acidity of the pinot made it ideal for standing up to the heavier notes of the dish. I nibbled on the olive and herb fagoza bread after deciding carbs be damned. This is the restaurant’s take on monkey bread. I savored this addictive bread while sipping a glass of bubbles.

Being in the Pacific Northwest, I opted for the pan-roasted wild salmon with glazed new potatoes, rapini, radish, and minted pea puree. The salmon arrived paired with a white blend I don’t see much—the 2018 Rousanne-Viognier-Marsanne. While I would normally pair a pinot noir with salmon, this heavier white held up nicely. My husband lightened up his meal by pairing his main course of pan-seared Alaskan halibut in a toasted garlic tomato sauce with a 2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir. Fresh and acidic, it was a fun pairing rather than an expected white wine.

Delicious dining at Amaterra Winery and other Portland Wineries.

Cheers to Pacific Northwest salmon cooked to perfection. Photo by John Valls

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Just the Beginning at Amaterra Winery

Despite only being open for six months, Amaterra Winery is already garnering accolades. It was named in USA Today’s Top 10 New Wineries of 2022 and highlighted as a wedding venue by Brides Magazine. With hospitality at the heart of Amaterra Winery, it will be fun to see how this Portland winery grows. If its popularity with locals and tourists is any indication, I expect Amaterra Winery will continue to surprise and delight Oregon oenophiles. So whether you want to visit more Portland wineries, fabulous vineyards around the world, or great restaurants, let Wander with Wonder be your guide. We also have great suggestions for other things to do while you explore Oregon.

Amaterra Winery, a 12-acre estate located just minutes from downtown Portland, is transforming the Portland wine scene. Experience great Oregon wines just moments from downtown PDX.


Amaterra Winery Transforms Portland Wine Scene

Written by Dena Roché

Dena Roché is an experienced travel journalist who focuses on wine, wellness, and luxury travel. She’s published with BBC, American Way, United Hemispheres, Marriott, Trivago, and more. You can find her on Instagram @denaroche

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