Family Owned Winery
Laurie Lewis, Wine Goddess
Laurie Lewis hails originally from Texas but has since converted to be an Oregonian. "Texan by birth, Oregonian by choice" she says. Her journey to becoming one of the Pioneers of the Portland Urban Winery movement is a quirky one.
She attended a Christian University in West Texas earning a degree in Psychology. She moved to Portland with the high hopes of becoming a Social Worker. All of that changed one day while sipping wine in Oregon's pastoral wine country. Laurie had become enamored with Oregon Wine and it's inspiring history. Her new found love of Oregon wine fueled her passion to become a winemaker.
She got a part-time job in a tasting room in the Willamette Valley while keeping her career job running a home health agency. She also enrolled at Chemeketa Community College taking winemaking and viticulture classes from long-time Oregon winemakers and grape growers.
In 1999 Laurie and her wife Renee Neely made their first vintage for their Urban Winery. She kept her day job until the winery demanded her full attention in 2003. After making wine in Portland for 10 year a few other wineries followed suite. In 2011 Laurie founded and became the President of the PDX Urban Winery Association. She remains President spearheading visibility of the Urban Winemaking phenomenon here in Portland.
Renee Neely, Wine Maven
Renee was born in Portland, Oregon. Her family moved progressively east until they ended up in Bozeman, Montana. Her taste buds were introduced to the joys of wine by Annie Green Springs and "California Coolers" (that's when wine coolers were made with wine). She pursued a degree in Theater Arts so she could move to Oregon and work in a coffee shop (it was either that or wait tables). When she wasn't slinging lattes she put her degree to good use in the bustling Portland community theater scene.
Renee discovered the joys of Oregon wine at a wine festival and after sampling several, and we do mean several wines, she found that something pink and fizzy tickled her palate the most. After a few more years of sipping Oregon wine and touring Oregon's fabulous wine country she decided to trade in the bright lights and applause for the quiet solitude of being a winemaker (of course she still wants to be famous). She took various classes from Oregon winemakers and grape growers. Renee still attends various seminars and keeps her palate educated by tasting wines (but her favorite is still pink and fizzy).
Tiernan Neely, Cellar Assistant
Our son Tiernan has literally grown up at the winery. In fact we opened our tasting room the year he was born. Over the years he has had the chance to get direct hands-on experience with the winemaking process. In 2006 we created an entire brand around family called Tiernan Connor Cellars. These limited production wines are what we would call our Reserve Wines and can be found in our tasting room or online.
These days you may find Tiernan on the bottling line, helping crush grapes, labeling wine or helping out with events. We look forward to seeing his future role blossom at the winery.