While Oregonians have (understandably) acquired a taste for high-quality pinot noir, our neighbors south of the border in California are a step ahead when it comes to the brawnier worlds of cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel.
One California winery, Ridge Vineyards, makes a fine assortment of wines that are widely distributed in Portland—and that are far more food-friendly than most California wines. One reason for this is that Ridge’s winemakers refuse to use harsh filters on their wines or to add fancy fruit-enhancement products (such as the concentrated unfermented grape juice that many California winemakers employ). The resulting wines avoid those artificially dark, monotonous flavors that too often afflict American/California varieties, and that instead delicately express the unique time and place of their origin. —Condé Cox