Ryan Lee Sharp
Ryan fell in love with wine while living in San Francisco back in 2007. It started as an innocent flirtation…visiting the city’s best wine bars, reading Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route, making wine in his 600 sq. ft. Mission District house…but it quickly progressed into full-blown thirst for all things wine. Ryan—who was working as a graphic designer and touring musician at the time—soon found himself a regular at the Napa Valley and Sonoma tasting rooms asking questions, tasting and asking more questions to anyone who’d offer an ear. He landed in the Sierra Foothills and talked with winemakers who were working with Rhone grapes and experimenting with innovative techniques. It was then he realized a change of course was taking place…he must make wine.
A year later, Ryan moved to Portland and enrolled in Chemeketa College’s wine program. While getting his degree, he worked as a winery grunt at Arcane Cellars on the banks of the Willamette Valley. There he spent a pivotal year learning the craft, but it was after assisting urban winemaker John Grochau of Grochau Cellars (and the then Portland Wine Project), that Ryan set his sights on creating an urban space where the tasting room and winery were one in the same; a place that represented why he fell in love with the craft, and connected with the community.
In 2010, Ryan signed the lease on a 3,000 square foot warehouse in the heart of SE Portland’s Buckman neighborhood and immediately started making wine for his first label, ENSO. As a winemaker, Ryan practices a blend of new-world technique and old-world philosophies. He experiments frequently, spending his days in the cellar reviving century-old methods and breathing life into grape varietals often overlooked in the Pacific Northwest, like Counoise and Mourvèdre. He also resurrected the Prince de Conti’s 15th-century recipe, labeling the wine The Prince, a mysterious Burgundy-style co-fermented field blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. His wines are all made in tiny batches and served almost exclusively in the tasting lounge. Since opening, Ryan’s urban winery and tasting lounge have received local, national and international accolades for its unconventional set up, blending a working winery with thoughtful, bohemian style and direct access to world-class wines with no pretense.
In 2011, Ryan launched a new label—Portland Sangria—to great critical acclaim. The ready-to-drink canned wine beverage is his take on sangria, a drink that can often be far too sweet, especially when purchased from the shelves. Portland Sangria on the other hand is a half-and-half blend of dry Pacific Northwest wine and Pacific Northwest juice with just a touch of effervescence. The brand has experienced incredible growth and is launching two additional flavors in 2017.
When Ryan’s not at the winery, he’s spending time with his two sons and wife, Kari, who is the manager of the tasting lounge, and their Border Collie puppy, Green.
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