The rustic, dimly lit room is above ground but built to resemble an old-fashioned wine cellar. Its tall bar, wainscoting, lacquered tables and custom-made arched doors are fashioned entirely out of reclaimed Oregon wood. Against its walls stand enormous wine racks stocked with bottles ranging from $13 to about $100.

This is The Cellar at the Lumberyard, the new retail wine outlet and tasting room housed in the Lumberyard Rotisserie & Grill on East Third Street.

“The idea is to create a tasting room here in Cannon Beach,” said John Bellncula, wine director for Martin Hospitality, the property management company that owns The Cellar, the Lumberyard and six additional businesses on the North Coast.

When tourists visit the state, they hear much talk of Oregon’s famous wines and want to experience them, Bellncula said. The Cellar -- a wine bar, a wine shop and a tasting room all in one -- is designed as a venue for this experience.

“We focus on Pacific Northwest wine but Oregon being the center stage, taking the primary focal point,” Bellncula said, adding that The Cellar also sells California wines from, for instance, Napa and Sonoma counties. “It’s boutique-driven, artisan-driven...and quality-focused.”

When patrons arrive for a tasting, Bellncula regularly regales them with the stories behind the wine labels, particularly when taking them on a rotating four-wine “flight,” a selection that John devises from his own working knowledge of wine.

There are three flights available: white, red and the more expensive reserve flight. Each pour is two ounces; at most tasting rooms, they are closer to a quarter or half ounce. One may begin with a lower-priced “value wine” and graduate to a pricier “iconic wine.”

The Cellar specializes in Oregon pinots, and the Oregon pinot noir is by far its most popular item, with the Oregon pinot gris running a distant second.

“What I love to do is turn people on to the other, wine-growing regions other than the Willamette Valley,” Bellncula said, citing labels from Oregon’s Rogue and Umpqua valleys. “Our taste buds are like fingerprints” because every person has “a completely different set of olfactory receptors.”

Each wine has a different taste and flavor profile depending on a host of factors, such as the winery, the wine maker, the vineyard and the climate. Tasters respond to each style and combination in their own way, said Bellncula, who has roughly 35 years of on-the-job experience in the restaurant industry.

“Wine is a living thing. It’s like a cheese or a yogurt. It’s alive. Enzymes are changing, molecules are building, they’re breaking apart, they’re constantly changing into one thing and then changing back into another,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic living thing in a bottle.”

The Cellar, which held its grand opening Aug. 5, is slowly building momentum. The weekend of Aug. 24 and 25, when the owners held tastings inside and outside the establishment, was its busiest weekend yet, Bellncula said.

Though adjacent to the Lumberyard, The Cellar is its own separate business. When Ryan Snyder, president of Martin Hospitality, bought the Lumberyard in 2004, the nearly 700-square-foot room that is now The Cellar was the corporate headquarters of Martin Hospitality, which relocated in midtown when the company purchased another building two years ago. Until last month, it was being used in the interim as a rental space for private events. It is still occasionally used for this purpose.

Snyder’s original vision was to convert the space into a brew pub. But when he examined the economics involved, “we could never get it to make enough sense.”

“We said, ‘OK, what does the Lumberyard need to become?’” Snyder recalled.

He and his team felt that Martin Hospitality could benefit from centralizing its wine operations, and so in 2012 they began to brainstorm The Cellar.

“I wanted the feel like that square room was the original building and that everything else had been built around it...that it didn’t totally tie in with the rest of the Lumberyard,” said Snyder, adding that he tried to capture a decor than was more antique-looking than the rest of the Lumberyard.

A few locals frequent The Cellar, especially Cannon Beach business owners, but it is mostly intended as a tourist destination.

“People like to stop here on their way to the rental or on their way out of town,” Bellncula said.

Customers who purchase a retail bottle at The Cellar, head to one of the three Martin Hospitality restaurants -- the Lumberyard, Wayfarer Restaurant and Stephanie Inn Diner -- and show their receipt to have their corkage fee waived.

Bellncula also offers a concierge service: If people are looking for a specific wine, Bellncula will research it, seek it out and give it -- and possibly even ship it -- to them.

For some time, he has organized wine education classes for service staff at the different properties, bringing in wine makers and other professionals to tutor them in the ways of wine. Bellncula’s long-term plan is to create a wine school for the public that meets a couple of nights a month.

There is also a new wine club that came into existence hand-in-hand with The Cellar, complete with newsletters containing information on food pairings, recipes, labels and a quarterly two-bottle package. “To me, wine is one of those greatest knowledges of life because you’re constantly learning. Like a doctor or a lawyer, they’re always constantly learning something, they’re always learning something through their work, and wine is the same thing because each vintage is going to be different,” Bellncula said. “It’s hard not to love being surrounded by great food and great wine.”

“It’s hard not to love being surrounded by great food and great wine.”


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.