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Volume 15, Issue 10
October 2017


Viola: exterior

Featured Business
Viola! Cedar Mill business makes wine by hand and feet
By Mary D. Edwards

In a 540 square-foot, single-car garage tucked away on a quiet residential street, Darryl Joannides presses and bottles cases of Italian-style red and white wines. That’s right. There’s a winery right here in Cedar Mill. It’s called Viola Wine Cellars and it’s owned and operated by Darryl and Sarah Joannides.

If you drive by in picking season, which was in full swing in early September, you’ll see Darryl’s friends, employees, and family use an ageless technique to extract grape juice. On the Saturday I stopped by, two women were thigh-deep in Gewürztraminer grapes they’d picked that morning. They were “foot-treading” the juices out of the small, greenish grapes, getting them ready to ferment for a month or two in the Joannides’ garage. It was a scene reminiscent of the famous “I Love Lucy” episode, except without the grape-throwing and plastic bins replacing a big wooden vat.

Viola: crush

“Slow and cold is ideal,” said Darryl of the fermentation process as he shoveled grapes for the women to squish. The 1.5 tons of grapes will become 900 to 1,000 bottles of wine in time for Thanksgiving 2018.

If you want to buy a bottle from those grapea, you’ll have to look for Traminer Aromatico, the Italian counterpart. In fact, all Viola wines are in the Italian style, from Barbera and Dolcetto reds to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and the Traminer Aromatico.

The Italian connection came about when Darryl started looking at winemaking in the early 2000s. He didn’t see his family’s country of origin—Italy—represented locally. The former chef/owner of Assaggio restaurant decided he’d remedy that by focusing solely on Italian-style winemaking, with an emphasis on locally-sourced, organic grapes. “My wines taste like Italy, not like Napa,” he says.

Viola: grape harvest
Darryl Joannides supervises Viola's grape harvest. PHoto by Rebecca Channer

After interning as part of the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, he launched Viola (a family name) in 2002, and opened his bottle shop (also called Viola Wine Cellars) in the Alberta district in 2006. The winery has been his full-time business since 2012, thanks at least partially, he says, to his wife, Sarah, who works as New Seasons Market’s director of social responsibility.

While Darryl tends the grapes and virtually every other aspect of the business, the harvest season means all hands are needed. His top vineyards, Alder Ridge and Oak Ridge, are in the Columbia River Gorge. This year just as he was getting ready to pick up a harvest, the Eagle Creek fire broke out, necessitating a much longer drive around the closed I-84. He and his crew, along with Oak Ridge family members, had to pick the Gewürztraminer grapes because the vineyard’s workers and truck were needed on the fire.

Viola Darryl and Barrels
Darryl Joannides, Viola Winery

But though they’d been up for hours, Darryl, Sarah and employees Kennedy Stonehawk and Rebecca Channer were cheerful. Deep in grapes and juice didn’t look like a bad way to spend an afternoon. Darryl was shoveling grapes into the bins Sarah and Kennedy were standing in. “It’s like a luffa scrub on the legs,” said Sarah. And the wine business? “It’s pretty great to make something that people can then drink.”

For more information, visit or the Viola Wine Cellar bottle shop at 2901 NE Alberta St., Portland.

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Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2017