Writer Kay K Tacke embarks on a wine-filled afternoon with her winemaker brother and Pearl resident Andy Lytle, who shares his favorite sips along the way.
We start our ramble by heading west from Andy’s waterfront Pearl abode. A little backstory on my brother: he lives close to the refurbished Albers Mill building, home to the CCA (Children’s Cancer Association, joyrx.org), which was founded in 1995 by Regina Ellis, and where he serves as chairman of the board, passionately devoting his heart and spare time to bringing joy to sick children.
A thoroughly pedigreed wine fellow, Andy has served 26 years in the vino business and has lived for nearly as long in the Pearl District, where he’s developed a roster of favorite venues for sipping. In spring 2014, he realized his dream of planting his own grapes in the beloved Willamette Valley. His winemaking operation, At The Joy (atthejoy.com), functions as a luxury wine country retreat and is available for holiday and corporate stays.
Andy is a good guy to know when deciding where to set out on a wine tour of the Pearl. We stop first at Irving Street Kitchen (701 NW 13th Ave, 503-343-9440, irvingstreetkitchen.com) for brunch, my favorite meal of the week, securing two bar stools at this handsome spot known for the delicious cuisine of chef Sarah Schafer. “Bubbles are a great way to go with brunch,” he says. “You really can’t go wrong with champagne in the morning.” I love grapefruit, though, so Andy instead suggests a sauvignon blanc (another of his brunch go-to sips), which stands up nicely to my slightly spicy scrambled egg “nachos” with tomatillo salsa.
“Bubbles are a great way to go with brunch. You really can’t go wrong with champagne in the morning.”
We saunter south amid the loading docks of historic 13th Avenue to our next stop, the laudable Peruvian restaurant Andina (1314 NW Glisan St, 503-228-9535, andinarestaurant.com). Although I’m craving a Sacsayhuamán (“sexy woman,” my favorite cocktail—habanero-pepper vodka with puréed passionfruit—at this stylish spot), I await my guide’s wine suggestion, as we order some of the tasty apps. “Andina offers both colorful and flavorful dishes, so let’s order a glass of cava and a glass of rosé to share,” he says, adding, “if we had gone for a white, I’d have suggested a Chablis or chenin blanc. These bright, crisp whites go nicely with the bold flavors here.”
We next drop by Paragon (1309 NW Hoyt St, 503-833-5060, paragonrestaurant.com) to sample the stellar brussels sprouts, along with a nicely balanced glass of Cambria “Katherine’s Estate” chardonnay before continuing to Oba! (555 NW 12th Ave, 503-228-6161, obarestaurant.com), an old favorite of ours that was also a pioneer in developing the Pearl’s reputation as a premier food and wine destination. He opts for pinot noir to pair with his braised pork shoulder arepas and selects a big, bold cab to match my tableside guacamole.
We end our sippers’ stroll at what we think of as the Pearl’s culinary centerpiece, Bluehour (250 NW 13th Ave, 503-226-3394, bluehouronline.com). Here we indulge in french fries, a sampling of house-made ice creams, and a final glass of bubbles. “I’ve been coming here since the day Bruce [Carey] opened it,” Andy recalls. “There was a period when I first lived in the Pearl that I sat at that stool over there and ate two square meals a day, sometimes three!”
I savor a glass of white Burgundy with my fries. It’s a perfect ending to this special day exploring the Pearl with my wine-worldly brother, partaking of the neighborhood’s superabundance of flavors and corks. – Andrew Collins | photos by Ashley Anderson