Last year’s inaugural Portland Wine Week was surprisingly successful for everyone who was paying attention – including founder and organizer Erica Archer, a sommelier who owns a wine education business in Portland.

Archer says of the 54 or so events, the majority sold out, or nearly so. That includes eight wine dinners scheduled for a single night. “I was getting a little bit nervous about that,” Archer said, “and they all sold out.”

Erica Archer, a Portland sommelier and owner of a wine education business, is the organizer of Portland Wine Week. Photo courtesy of Erica Archer

Things may be headed in the same direction this year, when the city hosts the second annual Portland Wine Week June 17-23. The festival has grown to more than 70 events, and as of one month before the festival, 10 were already sold out. Archer simply invites restaurants, wine distributors and wine shops to participate, and they decide what kind of events they want to create, “which gives (the events) a great deal of diversity,” she said.

This year, for example, some restaurants are offering specials that will last all week long. Central Provisions on Fore Street will create a wine list dedicated to favorite women winemakers from around the world. Union Restaurant in the Press Hotel will serve a three-course, fixed-price wine dinner ($55 per person) with appropriate pairings, and The Shop on Washington Avenue will offer a special featuring a different oyster each day of Portland Wine Week – a half dozen paired with a glass of sparkling wine for $15. Wine lovers who think they’ve got what it takes to be a sommelier can test themselves at MJ’s Wine Bar in One City Center, where blind tasting flights will be served all week, coupled with a contest where participants must identify the grape, region, subregion and year the wine was made.

“Most of the wine dinners are early in the week, like last year. Then this year, a lot of restaurants are doing a lot of non-ticketed events toward the end of the week,” Archer said. The idea is if the wine dinners sell out, plenty of options remain for weekend visitors to Portland, or for those who don’t like to plan ahead.

Eventide Oyster Co., for example, will pair its oysters and popular Brown Butter Lobster Rolls all day Thursday with Victorieux Champagnes, imported by a Mainer. Cedric Guyot, one of the winemakers, will be in Portland for the first time and will be at the restaurant from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Those who prefer caviar to lobster rolls can consider Browne Trading Co.’s Friday afternoon tasting ($20 per person at the door) of Billecart-Salmon vintage Champagne and fine America caviar.


Carol Shelton of Carol Shelton Wines in Santa Rosa, Calif., will be one of the featured winemakers at this year’s Portland Wine Week. Photo courtesy of Erica Archer

This year’s festival adds a strong “women in wine track,” Archer said. Portland has an unusually large number of female sommeliers, wine directors and managers of wine businesses, so Archer wanted to showcase them, especially during several opening-day events at the Falmouth Country Club on June 17. Among the women participating in the day’s events is Carol Shelton, owner of Carol Shelton Wines in Santa Rosa, California, a highly awarded winemaker.

“She’s considered one of the pioneer winemakers in Sonoma,” Archer said.

Then there’s Deirdre Heekin, winemaker at La Garagista Farm + Winery in Barnard, Vermont, representing newer, cutting-edge, small-production wineries. “She sells out the minute she releases anything,” Archer said. “She’s very much about the New Age of wine, where people want to know where their wine is coming from.”

Archer said that people from all over the country are already inquiring about or buying tickets for Portland Wine Week events, including vacationers from Texas, Boston and New York. Since the events are a la carte, she noted, vacationers can make their own schedule. Locals are also signing up.

“They see Portland Wine Week as a way to take a vacation in their own town, which is pretty awesome,” Archer said.


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