The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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Page 122 of 124

122 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 THIS WILL NOT BE a typical Closing Time—no industry advice here. Instead, we've opted to present a bit of social commentary regarding the potential of a local wine bar—in this case, Southeast Portland's beloved Division Wines—as a gathering place for friendly debate. It was clear during a recent visit that owners Danyelle and Will Prouty hope to offer much more at Division Wines than full glasses of red or white. While the shop's interior has a somewhat industrial aesthetic, it still feels very warm and invit - ing—and that's by design. "We've worked very hard on this space. Every tile on the ceiling was placed by my hand," Will said as he ran his hands over the wood grain in the bar. "Sometimes it was frustrating and it took far too long, but the gradual process was very satisfying." The Proutys, who have two children, have lived in the lush Southeast Portland area for almost 20 years. In 2011, they opened Division Wines as a retail store, but continuing to work other jobs while raising young boys left them with limited time to focus on the shop. After they added the bar a handful of years later and started pouring wines by the glass, how - ever, "it all became real," Will said. "If you start in retail it's one thing, but if you sell someone a bottle, then you get to pour them a taste and they can react," he continues. "What's awesome about wine is that it's so subjective and endless—there's tons of opportunity to assure people that in order for you to be right, I don't have to be wrong. If we can't do that around wine then what are we going to do? Dissension is a beautiful thing as long as there's civility wrapped around it. We're not all supposed to like the same things, but we can still sit next to each other and be friends." A longtime wine professional, Will keeps an interesting selection while Danyelle, the shop's self-proclaimed "behind-the-scenes girl," breaks down their offerings for guests. "The wines are kind of a mix. We're known as a shop with having a lot of fun, off-the- beaten path [options]," she said. "We have a value village where everything is $15 and under, and we don't have a ton of trophy wines—$20 to $35 is the sweet spot." While roughly a quarter of the inven - tory is local, Will says he's equally drawn to wines from all over the world. As eclectic and global as their collection may be, however, the most important thing to the Proutys is providing a welcoming space for their local community. "If you do a little stoop-dwelling, you talk to people, and I think that that's what the idea was here: to create a stoop where people can sit together and talk," Will said. "Bars or coffee shops or anywhere people sit are really valuable because we tend to only operate in our little circles we're comfortable with. But every once in a while in places like this, you end up sitting next to somebody you don't know and talking to them. You might identify your differences, but you'll start to recognize all the things you have in common: It could just be the weather, or it could be wine. I think that's powerful stuff, especially right now." The Profundity of Stoop-Dwelling SOUTHEAST PORTLAND'S DIVISION WINES MAKES A SECOND HOME FOR ITS NEIGHBORS story and photo by Jessie Birschbach Will and Danyelle Prouty own Division Wines in Portland, OR.

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