In the spring of 2000, Tom Harvey and Joe Padulo founded a business that attracted as many skeptics as it did believers. The basic concept was wine storage: unrestricted yet secure, self-service, climate-controlled wine lockers for monthly rental. Now, six years later, Portland Wine Storage is a hub for all things wine and a maturing subculture of the Oregon wine community.
“On any given day, in addition to storage inquiries, I get calls asking me to build custom cellars, transport and inventory collections, locate rare wines, consign old home-storage systems, sell wine accessories, and even cater private events,” says Joe Padulo, co-owner of Portland Wine Storage. (One of the most recent – and strangest – requests was to locate a stripping “Captain Jack Sparrow” pirate for a birthday party.)
With the exception of the latter, Padulo and Harvey do it all. “Being in this business really sheds light on what the needs of the wine community are,” says Padulo. “Before us, local wine shops and out-of-state catalogs were the only resources around. We’ve filled in all the gaps and provide an excellent local alternative.”
Portland Wine Storage has built several side ventures that buttress its solid skyward-bound business model. Early on, Harvey and Padulo began designing and manufacturing custom steel wine racks for in-house clients. They are now contracted by architects, builders, savvy homeowners and bars to build and install these racks. Padulo also consults for customers who wish to have their collections appraised and sold while Harvey updates and maintains clients’ inventories.
This summer, the duo launched www.portlandwinegear.com, a retail site selling wine accessories nationwide. In addition to stocking popular items such as stemware and decanters, PWS is the exclusive Pacific Northwest vendor of the sought-after Dometic Silent Cellar (http://www.silentcellar.com) as well as the Wine Safe, a secure wine-transport case that’s now an essential for air travel due to the new FAA restrictions.
Meanwhile, the bricks-and-mortar business, Portland Wine Storage, offers 20,000 square feet of secure, subterranean, climate-controlled storage space to its customers 24 hours a day at 306 SE Ash Street. Harvey and Padulo recently acquired 6,000 additional square feet of street-level warehouse space to accommodate commercial wine-storage clientele.
The tasting room, a converted boiler room, has become something of a clubhouse that’s always open for clients to unwind and uncork something from their cellars. Here, Padulo and Harvey (both professionally trained chefs) utilize their culinary skills every other month when they host a wine-tasting party for customers and friends. At “Scary Bottle Night,” the annual Halloween wine tasting, clients uncork wines thought to be long-dead and share their scariest oenophile horror stories. Clients so enjoy the fine fare at these tastings that they hire Padulo and Harvey to cater their own private events, both at the facility and off-site.
Storage prices start at $21.50 per month for a 12-case locker; the monthly fees for walk-in rooms begin at $105 per month. With five locker and four room sizes, there is something for everybody at any stage of collecting.
To learn more about current storage options, products and services, visit www.portlandwine.com and portlandwinegear.com.