One of the 15 branded products that Hi-Lo Hotel in downtown Portland features is its own wine label. In collaboration with Chehalem Wines in the Chehalem Mountain AVA, Hi-Lo proudly pours their Hi-Lo Pinot Noir Cuvée and Pinot Gris Cuvée at the Lo Bar inside Hi-Lo and the label harkens back to the circa 1910 roots of the former Oregon Pioneer Building.
Last week a field trip to Chehalem’s Newberg winery was in order and, despite chilly weather and my lack of a proper winter coat, time spent listening to associate winemaker, Katie Santora, and cellar master, Greg Martin, was educational and informative. Between a brief discussion about their pruning techniques and other viticulture practices we were entertained by their pack of frolicking pups and a sneak peak of Chehalem’s delightful new rosé.
Nearly overshadowing the beautiful estate fruit is their impressive solar arrays but the founder and team members at Chehalem don’t seem to mind at all. They shared that their solar panels produce 30 percent of the winery’s energy during the busy harvest time and 50 percent throughout the bulk of the year. Not surprising since Chehalem is one of just over a dozen Oregon wineries to complete the Carbon Neutral Challenge a few years ago.
Back in the Barrel Room, we were treated to a Spring Lunch prepared by none other than Alto Bajo’s chef Chip Barnes. Alto Bajo is Hi-Lo’s celebrated on-site restaurant, a destination unto its own. From a makeshift fire pit just outside the Barrel Room, he produced tender Yucatan-style pork and perfectly cooked whole king salmon that had been grilled over banana leaves. What Chef loves about the Hi-Lo Chehalem wines is their ability to pair with a wide range of the Oaxacan-inspired menu found at Alto Baja. What Hi-Lo general manager, Eric Paul, loves is being able to harness the collaborative spirit of Portland and its environs and bring it front and center to guests of the boutique property.
Sourcing from three estate vineyards, Chehalem is able to capture a broad expression of every vintage into each bottling. For guests of Hi-Lo, the private labels represent a fantastic value and an opportunity to experience a taste of what the treasured Willamette Valley has to offer even if their time in Portland does not afford them a full day of wine exploration. For imbibers who fall in love with the Hi-Lo private label, there is opportunity to purchase wine by the bottle at The Merchant, an artisan-curated mercantile inside Hi-Lo.