Operating out of a tiny urban “production space” (a 540 square foot garage) in Portland, Viola is the one man show of Darryl Joannides. It was started as a part-time project in 2002 while he was the owner/chef of Assaggio, followed by the launch of his wine shop in 2006; as of 2012, Viola is his full-time venture. His focus is on the Columbia Gorge AVA along the border of Washington (though he occasionally crosses the border when the right fruit appears) and just this year purchased his own property there, the future base camp for Viola Wine Cellars.
In addition to exploring this relatively unknown AVA, Darryl is focused on Italian varietals and produces an impressive lineup of tiny-production, naturally made wines. There is no recipe used here, but as a general rule he favors organic or sustainably farmed vineyards, neutral oak or stainless steel, all native fermentations, and some skin contact.
As in California over the past decade, tiny producers like this are reshaping the way people think about Oregon. Though Pinot Noir is still the foundation here—and likely to remain so— the region continues expanding, showing that Oregon can produce great Syrah, Chardonnay, Albariño, and yes, Italian grapes too. Depending on which phase the wine world happens to be swinging through, Viola is at once the past and the future, old and new, modern and traditional. All trends aside, though, the wines are outstanding and we’re excited to welcome them to David Bowler Wine.