An old-fashioned experience
Valley Wine Merchants brings personal touch to wine, local and beyond
When Andrew Turner and his wife Michelle were looking for a change, within seconds of arriving in Portland, they knew this was the place for them. From there, everything fell into place. Andrew landed a job in the wine industry with Ponzi, they found a house and started planting roots. Ten years later, the next adventure is what he describes as the culmination of his career, opening Valley Wine Merchants in Newberg.
Its a long winded story, but I caught the wine bug when I was in my teens, literally 16 or 17. I was taken under the wing of the hotel director at the hotel I was working at, Turner said. He saw the interest I had and started inviting me to tastings. That sort of started my wine education.
Along the road he cooked under some of the worlds greatest chefs, learned to cook for wine rather than the other way around, and had just a surreal career.
I spent virtually my whole career cooking until 10 years ago. I wanted to use a different part of my brain. I just thought, wouldnt it be sad if you spent your whole life doing one thing? he said. Wine was an equal passion to cooking. It was an obvious answer to if I wasnt cooking what would I do? Im a big believer that things happen at the right time for the right reason and it just sort of came together.
The South College Street shop is what he describes as one-stop. With 378 wines in the database, Turner envisions two main client bases tourist and industry folk.
Time and time again from winemakers I heard theyre surrounded by pinot noir, what they do every day. In their off time they want to check out from that, they dont necessarily want to drink pinot noir, a lot of the time they want beer, he said. The running joke is it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine. Thats why I decided I wanted a lot of exciting wines from other areas and thats what I find industry people really gravitate toward, things that get them out of the norm.
His idea for tourists comes from his own experience tasting wines in the valley.
At end of the day, where can I go where I can see everything, put together a great mix case and send it home? Turner said. Everything Ive tasted, so everything can be curated.
Say someone enjoyed a specific wine from Fire and Flood. Based on that interest, he said he can hone in on flavors and methods to select similar varieties and make suggestions.
This personal touch is something thats reflected in the shop itself. With one-of-a-kind elements throughout, and the original hardwood floor from the 1930s, he said it reflects the old fashioned business model.
Thats really what I want to be old fashioned service, he said. I take care of my clients like really not many businesses do. I really take pride in that, it really resonated with me.
Open now for almost a month, Turner said its been a slow roll-out, but he wanted to make sure everything was ready, including preparation for phase two adding food.
Were not really doing any cooking, he said. Its really about elevating the wine experience with food friendly flavors, nothing conflicting with the wine.
Within the next week or two, that will include a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, house-cured pickles, bread and a variety of house-made marmalades and compotes.
Everything aside, Turner said Valley Wine Merchants is what he moved to Oregon to do 10 years ago.
We moved here for quality of life. To do something Im so passionate about, that I literally wake up in the morning and Im giddy. I just want to get here and do my thing and make this better every day, he said. Its the opposite of my kitchen days. Im not home at 2 am. Im home at 7, 7:30 p.m. This is everything Ive dreamed about having, a small business and its my own.
Valley Wine Merchants is located at 112 S. College Street and open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.valleywinemerchants.com.