Expanding the Palate: A Downtown Wine Tasting Room
One senses that Gill Anderson, winemaker at Platt Anderson Cellars in Ashland, takes the phrase, “It’s never going to happen,” as inspiration rather than a deterrent. He established Ashland’s first “urban” winery despite the doubts and regulatory hurdles of assorted local and state agencies in 2013. Now he is on to his next project, creating Ashland’s first downtown wine tasting room. With this effort, he says, smiling, “the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) has been very helpful.”
“We want to promote the wine industry of Southern Oregon and to give exposure to winemakers who wouldn’t otherwise have it,” Anderson says. The new tasting room, located just inside the Ashland Art Center’s front doors on East Main, will open in time for the arrival of warmer weather and this season’s tourists. Designed by Anderson’s partner and wife, Shelby Platt, and their daughter, Jessica Bailey, the space will have seating for ten and room for more at the bar. They are striving for an “elegant and intimate” atmosphere, a potential challenge given the floor-to-ceiling display windows opening onto Main Street.
The tasting room will feature wines from Platt Anderson and other area winemakers who do not have their own such spaces. For Anderson and his fellow vineyard-less vintners, the new vintage venue will extend their ability to reach oenophiles and casual drinkers beyond events or restaurant wine lists. The lack of vineyard-covered hillsides and trellis-covered terraces does not daunt Anderson, and he anticipates that Ashland residents and visitors will feel the same. “The reputation of Southern Oregon wines is so strong, and people are open-minded.”
Given the rapid ascent of Southern Oregon’s reputation in the wine world, Anderson (who also delivers wine orders via electric bicycle during the summer), might again be an innovator. He cites Oregon towns like McMinnville or Dundee where existing concentrations of in-town tasting rooms form a wine center, something the Rogue Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) lacks. “There’s a huge potential for growth of tasting rooms in Ashland,” Anderson speculates. The Drink Local column will not bet against him.