: Aaron Lee / Oregon Wine Board

Pinot Noir Party at Boedecker Cellars

Experience the range and diversity of Oregon's most popular wine without leaving Portland.
May 8, 2024

Ready for a little urban wine tasting? Head for Boedecker Cellars, a working winery and tasting room in the heart of Portland. Part of the PDX Urban Wineries Collective,  Boedecker Cellars specializes in pinot noir, including vineyard-specific pinot noirs. That makes it a terrific place to experience the range and diversity of Oregon’s most famous wine in a single spot. My husband and I recently visited Boedecker Cellars’ winery tasting room for ourselves. Here’s how to enjoy the experience. 

Country Vines and Urban Wines

We made our way to Portland’s Northwest Industrial District, a long strip of colorful warehouses sandwiched between the Willamette River and the wooded, trail-crossed hills of Forest Park, just north of the Alphabet District. Boedecker Cellars is the only winery in this unique neighborhood, and one of the only urban wineries that doesn’t require a reservation, which makes it a great stop for a post-hike pinot noir. 

The company was founded by Athena Pappas and her husband Stewart Boedecker back in 2003, transforming their shared love of pinot noir into a winery that celebrates its incredible range and versatility. The two refurbished a 1950s warehouse and turned it into a winery in 2008, and have been producing critically acclaimed pinots ever since. 

The duo works with vineyards across the Willamette Valley to source their grapes, using lease-ownership partnership models that allow them to work directly with the growers and control the farming of their grapes to ensure that their vines are grown with the utmost care and attention to sustainability. Once the winemakers decide it’s the best time to harvest the grapes, they bring them to the Portland warehouse winery, where Pappas and Boedecker work their magic, creating beautiful wines that are shipped all over the country.

Relax on a Patio, Nibble Charcuterie and Taste Pinot Noir

Pappas greeted us at the door and ushered us into a massive warehouse-turned-winery with high rafters adorned with strings of glowing Edison lights and a fun selection of board games to borrow. Half-walls of barrels added a decorative touch while creating a bit of separation between the winery’s spacious tasting room and its adjacent production area, while still allowing a peek behind the scenes — also somewhat unique among urban wineries. We couldn’t resist Boedecker Cellars’ pet-friendly patio with its shrub plantings and old wine barrels repurposed into bloom-filled flower boxes. Pappas even offered us blankets in case things got too chilly.

Although Boedecker Cellars offers eight of their popular wines by the glass, as first-time visitors to the winery, we thought a five-wine flight would be a better introduction. Our tasting started with a glass of Solace, a pinot gris with a hint of chardonnay and a fruity finish. The rest of our tastings were laid out in small glass bottles so that we could taste at our own pace — ideal for comparing different pinot flavor profiles. 

Between sips, we pored over Boedecker Cellars’ build-your-own charcuterie board menu, with an impressive selection of American and European cheeses, cured meats and fish along with crackers and other little nibbles. We went for a Mediterranean selection, opting for lightly salted Marcona almonds imported from Spain and a big bowl of Castelvetrano olives. 

The next three wines in our flight (including the adorably named Grape Man) were smooth pinots with berry and forest notes, leading up to the grand finale: the 2019 SHEA Vineyard Pinot Noir, a rich red that we later noticed was ranked 93 (outstanding) by acclaimed wine critic James Suckling. “The most important thing is that you like it!” Pappas told us when we mentioned that it was our mutual favorite. “It’s got to have the yum.” And yummy it was. We said our goodbyes and headed home, but we knew that we’d be back to this little wine haven very soon.  

If You Go

While there’s plenty of parking at Boedecker Cellars, both in a dedicated lot and out front on the street, you don’t need your own four wheels and a designated driver to get there. Tri-Met bus #15 stops on the corner of Northwest 29th and Industrial avenues, a mere block away from the winery, and connects the winery with downtown and Southeast Portland. Rideshare services are widely available, and Radio Cab’s garage is close by, so it’s usually easy to get a quick pickup.

Reservations are available online, but walk-ins are also welcome if you’re feeling spontaneous. Boedecker Cellars has a wine club and occasionally hosts special events such as makers markets. To keep in the loop, subscribe to Boedecker Cellars’ newsletter or follow along on Instagram or Facebook.

About The

Margot Bigg
Margot Bigg grew up in Portland and England and after many years living in Europe and Asia (including six years in India), she once again calls the City of Roses home. When not traveling and writing, Margot spends her time studying new languages, discovering new music and seeking out new places to explore. She speaks English, French and Hindi, and is the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur; and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India, Fodor's Oregon, and Fodor's Pacific Northwest.

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