Cellar 503: The Wine Club for a Taste of Oregon Wine

Carrie Wynkoop established Cellar 503 out of a passion for Oregon wine and necessity. Specifically, she looked for a wine club that curated wines from small, boutique wineries throughout Oregon and couldn’t find one. So Carrie put her enthusiasm and knowledge of Oregon wines together with her prior business experience and established Cellar 503 in 2015.

Carrie Wynkoop, proprietor Cellar 503. Photo courtesy of Cellar 503 photo
Carrie Wynkoop, proprietor Cellar 503. Photo courtesy of Cellar 503

I recently met Carrie during a virtual tasting of three wines from her Cellar 503 selection. Carrie told her story and provided background on each winery as we tasted through the wines, which she provided to us as tasting samples.

Carrie’s focus is on Oregon wineries making less than 10,000 cases per year and many make only 2000 to 5000 cases. She visits every winery she represents in her club, meets the owners, gets to know them and tastes every wine. Her selections reach beyond Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to every AVA in the state and many grape varieties.

She included the current Portland area code in the name of her business, but notes that 503 was the original area code for the entire state of Oregon — a nod to her inclusion of all Oregon in her wine club.

Each Cellar 503 shipment is centered around a regional, stylistic or seasonal theme and includes background on each winery and detailed tasting notes with suggested food pairings. Two or four-bottle club memberships are available and you may choose red, white or a combination of wines. You pay the monthly fee based on the number and kind of wines you choose plus shipping. If you prefer four bottles delivered quarterly there is an option for that too. There are no annual contracts or additional membership fees. 

Carrie told us she rarely repeats a particular wine, but may offer more than one wine from a particular winery over time. Additional member benefits include an Explore 503 Wine Country Pass and tasting events held in Portland.

The three wines we tasted were from Carrie’s July wine club selection centered around the theme of Old World Varieties, New World Style and focus on southern Oregon vineyards.

2019 Weisinger Family Winery Roussanne, Fortmiller Vineyard, Oregon Rogue Valley photo
2019 Weisinger Family Winery Roussanne, Fortmiller Vineyard, Oregon Rogue Valley

2019 Weisinger Family Winery Roussanne, Fortmiller Vineyard, Oregon Rogue Valleymedium yellow in the glass with generous aromas of pears and stone fruit. Flavors are floral with components of melon, pear, stony minerality and citrus zest. Juicy acidity and a bit of roundness along with complex flavors provide a medium-long finish. 13% abv.

Roussanne may be used in blended wines more often than as a varietal wine, but when you taste this Roussanne you will wonder why. This wine has nice weight, complex flavors and bright acidity. This 100% Roussanne is barrel fermented and aged for six months in neutral French oak. 

John Weisinger purchased property near Ashland, Oregon in 1978 and with the help of his children began by planting Gewürztraminer. Weisinger Family Winery estate vineyards now also include Pinot Noir and Tempranillo. John built the winery 1988 and completed the first crush that year. Carrie estimates 75% of grapes are estate grown with the balance sourced from vineyards very close to Weisinger all of which are managed by John’s son, Eric, who took over winemaking responsibilities from his father in 1998.

2018 Stedt Wines Impulse Gamay Noir, Rebecca’s Vineyard, Umpqua Valley photo
2018 Stedt Wines Impulse Gamay Noir, Rebecca’s Vineyard, Umpqua Valley

2018 Stedt Wines Impulse Gamay Noir, Rebecca’s Vineyard, Umpqua Valleylight ruby in the glass with aromas of blackberries, berry bramble and black pepper. Flavors begin with juicy raspberries then blackberries, cedar and black pepper. The flavors and acidity are bright and lively. Tannins are drying and well integrated.  13.5% abv. 

Gamay Noir’s vivacious qualities are on full display with every sip of this lovely wine. Chris Lubberstedt is keenly focused on Oregon’s cool-climate style of wines. He crafts single-variety wines from single vineyard sites in small lots. When Chris isn’t making his own Stedt Wines he consults as a winemaker to other wineries.

2017 Kriselle Cellars Belle TouVelle, Rogue Valley, Oregon photo
2017 Kriselle Cellars Belle TouVelle, Rogue Valley, Oregon

2017 Kriselle Cellars Belle TouVelle, Rogue Valley, Oregondense ruby in the glass with aromas of ripe blueberries and cocoa powder. Flavors of juicy blackberries and blueberries combine with smoke, cedar and earth. Tannins are a bit grippy but well integrated with the flavors. Medium body and medium+ length finish. 14.3% abv.

This blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon is inspired by Bordeaux’s right bank wines. Kriselle Cellars is located in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. The 25-acre estate vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo, with small amounts of Malbec, Sangiovese, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc.

Kriselle Cellars is part of a larger working ranch, Buxton Ranch, and makes about 4000 cases annually sourced largely from the estate vineyard and selectively from local vineyards.

Kriselle Cellars was part of Carrie’s very first club shipment. She only purchased one case that time, but with this shipment Carrie purchased 47 cases!

It was a pleasure getting to know Carrie. Her enthusiasm for Oregon wines is obvious and she takes great pride in curating a diverse group of wines every month without veering toward the esoteric that might put off some wine enthusiasts.

Cellar 503 brings the wines of very small Oregon wineries to her club members thought the country giving the wineries exposure they wouldn’t necessarily have. And Cellar 503 club members have access to wines they would otherwise not be able to taste at home.

As the owner of a small business Carrie knows the value of supporting other small businesses. Carrie has partnered with Portland area restaurants to create wine and food pairings for her local club members and hosts tasting events in Portland as well. And she supports local charitable organizations. The value of your Cellar 503 membership goes beyond the wines you receive.

I hope you will visit the Cellar 503 website for all the details and let Carrie be your personal shopper for delicious and diverse Oregon wines.

Thank you Carrie for sharing your story and to Kim Elwell, Account Director, The James Collective, for organizing and hosting the virtual tasting. What a delicious experience!

Cheers!

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