Day Wines plays the wild card in Dundee city center

Day Wines production has jumped almost 12,000% in 10 years thanks to hard work, great wines and a well-placed tattoo. It’s a vineyard story like no other.

Day Wines is known for: Winemaker Brianne Day works with 25 varietals from 32 vineyards in the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon. “I don’t have strict regulatory systems like in Europe that tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m a wild card with the freedom to satisfy my curiosity,” Day said.

Although Day makes single-vineyard Pinot Noir, most of its lineup resembles an e-ticket ride to Disneyland. It makes wines from everything from Tannat and Malbec to Chenin Blanc and Müller Thurgau. You will also find blends that may not exist anywhere else. For example, Day is releasing a Gamay Noir-Dolcetto blend this summer that I can’t wait to taste.

Current “must try” version: 2021 Day Wines “Dazzles of Light” Oregon White Wine ($29). It’s pure chemistry, as Day transforms Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc from the Applegate and Willamette Valleys into something far better than the individual parts.

Day calls it the “most spring-like wine we have,” and I can see why. It’s so floral you’ll be looking for the bouquet of fresh cut Mayflowers. With added aromas and flavors of ripe white peaches, papaya and the smell of a dewy spring lawn, this wine will be at home with everything from a Mother’s Day brunch to a Primus show in Edgefield. in June.

“Dazzles of Light” is a phrase Jack Kerouac uses in “Lonesome Traver” to describe his view of a northern Cascades lake. The description inspired Day to do a bit of literary research. When she found “dazzle of light” in a poem by Walt Whitman, she placed the excerpt from his “Songs of Myself, 46” on the back label.

Innovation: Day just released an amaro made with 15 locally sourced botanicals and Johan Vineyard Pinot Noir from the 2020 vintage. The bittersweet digestive is called “Bambino” and it’s an after-dinner hit.

Story: Day caught the wine bug while traveling the world in 2006 and 2007.

Inspired by the vineyards she visited on her trip, Day returned home to Portland to pursue various jobs in the wine and service industry. She also found time to work the harvest and help make wine on four different continents. Day launched her eponymous brand with 125 cases of pinot noir in 2012. Ten years later, she produces 15,000 cases annually. That’s what we call a “meteoric rise”.

What we don’t know: A tattoo dramatically accelerated Day Wines’ trajectory.

In 2013, Day was the wine director of Riffle NW, a now-defunct Portland restaurant. One evening, she found herself replacing an absent waiter. Diana and Richard Milock, two wine enthusiasts from Michigan, sat at one of Day’s tables. It turned out to be a good piece of kismet for the budding winemaker.

The striking vine tattoo on Day’s left arm sparked a conversation. After learning of Day’s winemaking plans, Richard Milock told him “by the end of the evening, I will be your support”. Suddenly Day had investors to help take his fledgling brand to the next level.

Greatest success or failure: Day’s most significant success is Lemonade, the 2020 rosé she made with smoked pinot noir grapes. The first 1,200 cases disappeared in just a few months. Then Whole Foods approached Day with a large order for lemonade.

Turning lemons into lemonade was such a hit. Day created a 2021 Willamette Valley Lemonade rosé from pinot noir that retails for $19. Day hopes to increase lemonade production to 10,000 cases within three years.

Last book read: “The Man Who Ate Too Much”, the biography of James Beard written by John Birdsall.

Biggest Inspiration: Dolly Parton. “She has such a positive attitude,” Day said. Day added that “Wildflowers” is her favorite Parton song because “they don’t care where they grow”.

Or buy: Day’s wines are available at many Portland retail stores, including Pairings and Mom & Pop Wine Shop. The wines are also available at Whole Foods and New Seasons Markets. For daytime wine by the glass, head to Wonderly in northeast Portland.

In Eugene, Day recommends buying his wines from The Broadway Wine Merchants.

On the East Coast, copious amounts of Day wines are served at Nathálie, a Boston wine bar specializing in organic, biodynamic and natural wines made by women. In the wine-growing oasis of Brooklyn, New York, look for Day bottlings at Dandelion Wine and Vanderbilt Wine Merchants.

daywines.com or [email protected]

— Michael Alberty writes about wine for The Oregonian/OregonLive. He can be reached at [email protected]. To learn more about its coverage, go to oregonlive.com/wine.

David H. Henry