Portland Wine Week Blog

Insider insights and added perspectives on the people, places. . . and (of course), wines, that make Portland Wine Week a can't-miss summer festival!  Keep checking back here for new stories.


Make the Most of Portland Wine Week with Non-Ticketed Events and the 2019 Wine Passpourt

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Didn’t get those tickets before it sold out? You’ll be happy to know that twenty-five events (out of our total 70+ lineup!) are non-ticketed, meaning there’s no special reservation to be made, and no up-front cost. No matter what your week of June 17-23 throws your way, there’s sure to be a plethora of events happening when you can drop in, take part, and sip something delicious.

Spots all over town are hosting weeklong non-ticketed events and specials, with something for everyone. Looking for a sit down dinner with a focus on a particular winemaker or region? Be sure to check out the weeklong special wine lists or special pours at Central Provisions, Eventide, Hugo’s, The Honey Paw, Local 188, Sur Lie, and The Shop.

Those who wish to challenge their blind wine tasting talents can swing by MJ’s Wine Bar any day of the week to try their palate at one or two blind tasting flights. There’s even a chance at a prize on the line for those who can master the more difficult of the two!

Wine shops all over town are getting in on the fun with a thrilling lineup of non-ticketed tastings and meet and greets with the winemakers, including Brianne Day at Maine and Loire and Carol Shelton at Central Provisions on Tuesday, June 18, and Michele D’Aprix at Grippy Tannins on Wednesday. What better way to experience wine than by face-timing directly with the folks who created it?!

More than one wine shop are celebrating milestones of their own as a part of Portland Wine Week – you can cheers to a decade of Old Port Wine Merchants on June 19 at their 10th Anniversary Celebration and tasting, and then welcome new kids on the block Grippy Tannins at their Grand Opening & Celebrate Rose Season on June 21.

Looking for an even more flexible schedule during Portland Wine Week? The 2019 Wine Passpourt is chock full of special deals on fabulous glasses of wine from dozens of participating establishments all over town for the whole week. All you need to access the discounts is to print off the 2019 Wine Passpourt and present it at any participating restaurant or bar. You’ll find the logos of the participating establishments right on the Wine Passpourt and a list of what they’re pouring (and pairing) for passpourt holders on the dedicated webpage.

This list barely scratches the surface of our non-ticketed offerings this Portland Wine Week, so be sure to check out all non-ticketed events here, and print out your 2019 Wine Passpourt and view what’s being poured here.

by Sarah Lederer

Bringing Context and Storytelling to Enjoying Wine with Courtney O’Neill


Courtney O’Neill has been a part of the Portland restaurant scene for over ten years. Currently the director of operations and the wine list at both Central Provisions and Tipo Restaurant, she’s also held stints at Vignola Cinque Terre and Liquid Riot, doing it all from bussing to general managing. This Portland Wine Week, Courtney and her teams at Central Provisions and Tipo are serving up special wine lists and a massive variety of events in both locations.

How did you first get involved with Portland Wine Week?
I got involved through my relationship with Erica Archer (the creator of Portland Wine Week). She has a wine tasting group here in Portland, and I’ve hosted the group at Tipo several times, so that’s how I originally got involved.

What events are you participating in for this year’s Portland Wine Week?
There are a lot of events I’m involved with this year, through both Central Provisions and Tipo. Monday, I’ll be on the Women In Wine panel discussion happening in the morning, as well as the Grand Opening Women In Wine Dinner: Who Paired it Better? that evening, both taking place at the Falmouth Country Club. In tandem with that, I am also launching the Women Winemakers Wine List at Central Provisions. This is a female winemaker-exclusive wine list that I’ll be running for the entirety of Portland Wine Week. Each day we’re going to highlight a different producer or different winemaker, including Carol Shelton, Brianne Day, Deirdre Heekin – all of whom are on the panel and the Grand Opening Happy Hour, as well.

Tuesday I’m doing a dinner at Tipo called Stories from the Road: A Night of Tall Tales from the Wine Trail. Josefa Concannon of Louis/Dressner and Ned Swain of Devenish Wines will be hosting, and they’ll each pick two wines to share while they tell some stories. Guests will enjoy a four course dinner from Chef Chris Gould while they’re regaled with stories from Ned and Josefa about the winemakers, times they personally were at the winery, or traveling there. It’s a different approach to a wine dinner – people who are good storytellers sharing that side of the wines, and not necessarily just the straight up technical data of where it’s from and how it’s made. It should be a really fun night and very engaging for the guests.

Wednesday we have a couple events. Midday at Central Provisions, we have a three course lunch, paired with Italian white wines by winemaker Robert Princic, which is limited to 12 people. Then Wednesday night we’re going to have a late night sashimi and sake pop-up, also at Central. We’re pairing up with Cyle Reynolds, who used to be a cook at Central Provisions and did pop-ups last summer as Carbon. Cyle has been traveling and working at Michelin-starred restaurants, and he just recently got back into town so we’re excited to have him. He’ll be working with Chef Chris Gould to create the menu in the bar that night. People can go in and grab a quick bite and a little sake, or if you want to ball out and get some caviar and go crazy making a meal of it, we’ll have that too.

Thursday night we’re featuring Forlorn Hope Wines, and we will have Karen Ulrich from T. Edwards coming in to work the floor as our guest sommelier for the evening. Karen is a really wonderful, gregarious personality, so having her on the floor will be great for guests. We’ll be featuring Forlorn Hope Wines because they’re amazing, delicious natural wines, and also because there’s a Maine connection there. Danielle Shebab is their assistant winemaker and director of operations, and she’s from Maine!

Finally, on Sunday we’ll be doing a Pet Nat and caviar event downstairs in the bar at Central Provisions. We do half priced caviar every week, and last year for Portland Wine Week we made it an event by pairing the caviar with champagne. This year, we wanted to switch it up and feature Pet Nats, which are becoming more and more popular but I think are still misunderstood. We’ll be serving some Pet Nats at price points that are more affordable, so it’ll be fun to have some sort of fun and funky bubbly wines to pair with that delicious half price caviar from Browne Trading.

What are some things that people can look forward to from some of your events this year?
There’s something special about every event we’re putting on this year at both Central Provisions and Tipo. I’m especially excited about the Women In Wine Women Winemakers exclusive wine list we’re doing all week long at Central Provisions. I think it creates conversation – there are so many amazing female producers who are making some really incredible wines. Again, it’s about adding context and stories to some of these wines. I think that makes wine more appealing and accessible to people. Context can really help bring wine from being this maybe pretentious thing people are scared of engaging with to something that’s really familiar and intriguing. So I’m really excited about that.

I’m also super excited about the sake and sashimi pop-up, because Cyle worked for us for maybe three years and it’ll be great to have him back for this one special night – he’s a character and a good friend of mine. I think the combination of Chef Gould and Cyle together doing something with sake will be a fun interpretation of what Portland Wine Week can mean, since the focus on sake is pretty unique in the lineup of events.

How do you see greater participation from women in the wine industry changing the industry for other people?
I’m hoping that as more and more women come up in the wine industry that it becomes more of an inclusive environment, where many voices are heard instead of just one. It creates some basic diversity. Hopefully it will move things forward for other folks who maybe thought that the wine world was a bit pretentious. What I’m hoping is that the wine world becomes more and more accessible and a little bit more fun for people to be a part of.

What is the most exciting thing that you see happening in the dining and wine scene in Portland right now?
That’s a really hard question to answer! The organic and natural wine movement has been really exciting. I think it makes sense for Portland, Maine, where people are so thoughtful and so conscious about the food that they eat and where the food comes from. I think that’s a sort of intrinsically “Mainer” ideal, being really invested in sense of place. Food is part of that and I think wine as the perfect pairing for any meal, having a better idea of how it’s made and the farming practices associated with it seems to fit really well within the greater food and restaurant community. I’m excited that more and more people are getting excited about that and opening their minds up to organic and natural wines, and having those conversations and drinking those bottles of wine that can be a little funky but are truly delicious.

I’m also really excited about the amount of people who started food trucks and food carts, and who now have brick and mortars. I love seeing people who were given the chance by the Portland community, who work their butts off every summer with their carts and trucks, and now have some brick and mortars where their ideas can grow even bigger. I think that’s like the great 207 success story.

Why should people attend Portland Wine Week?
There are so many different ways you can participate. I think there’s something truly for everyone. If you want to learn how to make pasta and drink Italian wines, there’s that for you. Or with the wine passport, you can hop into different places and just grab a discounted glass and a paired bite. You can really participate in any way you’re comfortable doing at any price point, and you’re going to have an amazing time.

Check out our
events calendar for more details on all the events being held at Central Provisions and Tipo throughout Portland Wine Week.

by Sarah Lederer

Bringing the World’s Wines to Maine with Tabitha Perry

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Tabitha Perry is the owner of Crush Distributors, who bring fabulous wines from all around the world to be enjoyed in Maine. Her journey has taken her to living in Napa Valley and back again. This Portland Wine Week, Tabitha and Crush Distributors are bringing three incredible women winemakers to Portland to share their perspectives and, of course, their wines! Read on for more of Tabitha’s story, and what to look forward to this Portland Wine Week.

How did Crush Distributors come to be?
I had a company when I was living and working out in Napa Valley, and I made great connections with winemakers during my time there. But my home state of Maine was calling, and I wanted to move back and be closer to my family. I thought to myself, maybe people will want me to sell their wine in Maine. I called up the wineries that I used to sell back in California, they were game, and so Crush Distributors was born! We started out slowly, with a book of maybe ten wineries. They were all California based, from the relationships that I had had. They were all very higher end boutique wines, and we learned very quickly that we weren’t going to make a lot of money on just those wines. We needed more affordable options, and so we adjusted through the years to diversify. Now we have about 400 wines. We have a lot of imports too, including a very strong Austrian wine portfolio and a very strong Italian wine portfolio. I still have a love for California wines, so we have a lot of very small unique producers from California too. We really run the gamut and have a little bit of something for everyone.

How did you first get involved with Portland Wine Week?
We were contacted last year about taking part, and I just thought it was a total no-brainer. I always want to take part in anything that helps to grow the wine community in our own backyard. I think we were the first ones to sign on and say yes!

What are the events that you’re participating in with Crush Distributors this year?
Our primary focus will be on Monday’s opening events. Three women winemakers we represent will be at the luncheon at the Falmouth Country Club. We have Brianne Day coming out from Oregon, Carol Shelton who’s here from Northern California, and Deirdre Heekin, who is a two-time James Beard nominated winemaker who will be here from Vermont. It is an exciting variety to have the three of them here. Brianne is a single mom and she’ll be bringing her 18 month old son, as well as her distinctive natural wines. Then there’s Deirdre, who’s really hyper-focused on natural varieties from Vermont. Carol is the veteran – she was one of the first women ever to get her degree in winemaking from UC Davis. She’ll be bringing a taste of the classic methods into the cellar. It’s exciting to be representing all these different approaches to winemaking.

In your opinion, what makes the Women in Wine track an exciting offering from this year’s Portland Wine Week lineup?
I think it’s exciting to jump on the momentum that’s behind women right now. Between the Me Too movement and this renewed focus on equality for women, it’s just such a great time to bring that to Maine, and to wine. We are such a hospitality driven state, and it’s a smart decision to show the ways that women are succeeding and contributing in all our industries here. Both women and men are excited about supporting women right now.

How do you see a greater participation from women in the wine industry moving the industry forward?
We are definitely seeing more women get into the industry, but it’s still only about twenty percent. That’s a big leap from even ten years ago, but what I’d like to be able to see is that these women are being paid the same as men in the same position – that their wines are being sold for as much as a product created by a man. I want to be sure that we continue to support each other as more women come into the industry, to continue to draw attention to the fact that there are very talented women who should be able to stand on the same platforms that men have throughout the years.

What is the most exciting thing that you see happening in the dining and wine scene in Portland right now?
There are so many things to be excited about. One thing I’m certainly excited by is the focus on interesting wines. We’re starting to see people jump outside of the typical categories of cabernet, chardonnay, pinot noir. For example, people are starting to pour Gamay instead of pinot noir. It’s great to see people introducing different varietals, because that’s really going to bring people in from out of state. When these young, excited buyers are willing to experiment and do some interesting wines, it keeps Portland relevant.

Why should people attend Portland Wine Week?
We’re hoping that people from both within Maine and out of state come out to support Portland Wine Week. It’s a great time of year for locals to give a little financial boost to these amazing restaurants that have had a hard winter and really support local businesses. For out-of-staters, it’s a great time to visit Portland! It’s an affordable time to come and stay in hotels before July 4th hits, and while the weather is really getting beautiful. For me, it’s mainly about getting out there to support the amazing businesses we have here, bring attention to the people behind them and the creative menus we’re all so lucky to have in our hometown.

The Opening Day: Women Winemaker Luncheon will take place at the Falmouth Country Club on Monday, June 17, 2019 from 12-2pm.

by Sarah Lederer

Bringing the Charms of Biddeford to Portland Wine Week with Brittany Saliwanchik

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Brittany Saliwanchik spent nearly a decade in New York City working in restaurants before returning to her home state of Maine with dreams of opening her own. After a few years as Beverage Director and GM at Elda, Saliwanchik is making that dream come true. Her new cocktail and wine bar and restaurant, Magnus On Water, is under construction and set to open next season in Biddeford.

How did you get into the wine industry?
When I was working in New York City, the beverage director at one of the restaurants I managed became my mentor. She instilled in me a really deep love, appreciation and understanding of not only the different kinds of wine, but also how it’s made, where it comes from, and the people behind making it. It was my experience working with her that sparked my interest in wine. There are other paths you can take in the industry, but I began heading down the wine path. I kept at it, studying through WSET in New York and then moving to Germany in 2015 to work a harvest. I was right on the French border and working vineyards in both countries. That was a really amazing, incredible experience for me, and solidified my wanting to work with wine.

Is this your first time participating in Portland Wine Week?
I was involved last year as a part of Elda’s team. Elda did one of the dishes for last year’s closing gala dinner, and I was there pouring wine. This year is the first I will be pairing as a part of one of the events, which I am looking forward to.

What event or events are you participating in this year?
This year I’ll be a part of the grand opening Women In Wine dinner, taking place on June 17 at the Falmouth Country Club. It’s a very cool idea for the opening dinner this year – there are five female chefs, each making a dish, and then for each chef there are two female sommeliers. The somms will each pair a wine with the chef’s dish, and as a friendly competition, guests at the dinner will judge who paired best. I’ll be pairing a wine with a dish by Chef Ilma Lopez of Chaval and Piccolo, and my counterpart Somm is Coco from Central Provisions. It should be very fun!

What makes the Women In Wine track such an exciting part of this year’s Portland Wine Week lineup?
There are a lot of things that make it exciting. For me, it’s really exciting to see how many women are actually running the wine industry in Portland. I think that Portland Wine Week has done a really good job bringing together all these women sommeliers and chefs. The track is celebrating how many women there are in and around Portland shaping the dining landscape. It’s not something that I’ve really read too much about or seen that much press about, but I think it’s really cool that Portland Wine Week is showcasing all of the females that run the industry in our area. I think there’s also been a shift in attention nationwide to women who work in wine and female winemakers specifically. There are some really incredible winemakers contributing to the industry too, so I think anything that we can do to showcase women’s contributions in what has historically been a male dominated industry is really exciting and worthwhile.

How do you see greater participation from women in the wine industry changing the landscape and pushing the industry forward?
If I think back to about thirteen years ago, when I was starting to work in restaurants, so many areas in the restaurant industry were very much male dominated. That can still be the case now, but over the last five or six years there has been a noticeable shift. I have worked with more women in that time, which has been inspiring. There are plenty of men I’m inspired by too, but I think seeing more women in the industry creates opportunities for other women coming up. When young women start out in the industry now, they have these female role models they can look to as examples of what is possible at the top. I see that as really helpful, and not something that many young women had even five to ten years ago.

What is the most exciting thing you see happening in the dining and wine scene in the area right now?
Being based in Biddeford, I am really excited by all the energy of new things happening here. When I first moved back from New York, I initially looked around Portland for jobs, because that’s where the national attention is in the restaurant industry. But what really drew me to Biddeford is the youthful, entrepreneurial spirit of it. Biddeford is in a different place than Portland – there’s still a lot of work to be done. People are moving here to start their own businesses because it’s close to Portland and still relatively inexpensive to get started here.  We really have the ability to build community, help the community build itself from the ground up, and be an integral part of the positive change for the economy. That energy in the community and visiting Elda and being inspired by what Chef Bowman Brown was doing there were the biggest factors for me in deciding to settle in Biddeford. Seeing that potential for growth when a place is right at the beginning of its renaissance and being a part of that are what’s so exciting to me.

Why should people attend Portland Wine Week?
Oh my gosh there are so many reasons! I think people should attend Portland Wine Week first and foremost to learn. They do a really great job of curating a wide array of events and seminars – so many opportunities and affordable ways to enjoy Wine Week. There are just so many interesting things that you can learn by attending some of these events. You can meet people who are established in the industry and are talking about their passions. It’s also a great way to meet the people who work in restaurants and wine around here. I think it’s a really cool experience to go to a dinner and hear directly from the chef about their food, and to hear directly from the sommeliers about their pairing. Portland Wine Week is a great way to learn about wine and to connect more with the restaurant industry in Portland.

The Grand Opening: Women In Wine Dinner: Who Paired It Better? will take place at the Falmouth Country Club on Monday, June 17, 2019 from 6:30-10pm.

by Sarah Lederer

Matching Global Wines with Local Delicacies with Tessa Boepple


Tessa Boepple is Solo Italiano’s sommelier extraordinaire. After moving to Portland from Vermont with her husband in 2013, Tessa fell in love with the local food scene and her existing passion for wine grew. Catch Tessa pairing and pouring on June 17th at the Falmouth Country Club for the grand opening Women in Wine Dinner.

How did you get involved with Portland Wine Week?
Last year, I worked at some of the places that held Portland Wine Week events and I attended several events myself. Apart from that, this will be the first year where I am part of an event.

What event are you participating in this year?
I’ll be taking part in the Women In Wine Dinner: Who Paired It Better? There will be five women chefs and 10 women sommeliers, 2 sommeliers per chef. Each chef will create a dish and then each of the sommeliers will choose a wine to pair with it. Everyone who comes to enjoy the dinner will get to vote on which wine they think is paired better.

What makes the Women In Wine track for this year’s Portland Wine Week an exciting offering?
It’s such a nice highlight. We’ve been seeing a lot of coverage popping up about women in wine and food lately. In wine specifically, you hear a lot more about daughters who have taken over their fathers’ wineries and winemaking practices, and it’s exciting to see.

How do you see greater participation from women in the wine industry changing the environment?
More women are coming up all across the industry. From tending the vines and farming, to being in the winery, to the business side of things, exporting, importing, distributing. Half of the reps for the distributor companies that I know and work with are women, which is great. And then you get to the restaurants and the selling of wine. I attend a couple wine tasting groups in the area on a regular basis to hone our skills and get together, and half of the attendees are women every single time. It’s just wonderful. It’s exciting to have come so far and be seeing people of different representations in all fields.

“Every single glass of wine is a window into another part of the world, another piece of time, and another piece of culture.”

What is the most exciting thing that you see happening in the dining and wine scene in Portland right now?
I love the focus on local food of really top quality. Because food deteriorates over distance and time, I feel like working with the freshest and most local ingredients that you can is really important. But wine, because it can travel and can age for so long, brings something different to the table. A great wine brings the mindset that while you live in one location in the world where things are very locally driven – you can support your local economy, your community, your friends, your family – you’re also part of a global economy, a whole planet. You’re from one place, but you’re actually connected to the rest of the world. So when you come to sit down at a restaurant in Portland, it perfectly represents that idea with the plate of local food that you have in front of you, paired with an amazing wine from anywhere in the world.

Why should people attend Portland Wine Week?
Oh, because it’s a blast! Because those of us taking part are really cool people – we might be dorks, but we’re really cool. Apart from that, it’s educational and it’s fun. I think it’s such a great way to learn about something fun, outside of a classroom. Wine is always changing, always evolving, and it’s something that’s interesting and brings people together.

The Grand Opening: Women In Wine Dinner: Who Paired It Better? will take place at the Falmouth Country Club on Monday, June 17, 2019 from 6:30-10pm.

by Sarah Lederer