Iron and wine next to the railroad tracks
Who doesn't love the romantic nature of a back-alley bar or a tasting room next to the tracks? Those sort of hidden imbiberies aren't just for big cities. McMinnville has had two for years: Nick's Back Room, located in the back of the famed Nick's Italian Cafe, accessed by an alley off Evans Street (a trip past a dumpster has never been so rewarding); and Remy's baR, tucked away in the granary district adjacent to the railroad tracks.
Now there is a third.
Walk about a half-mile south along the tracks from Remy's and you'll find the tasting room for Nathalie Lee's Vinum Ferus label, 806 SE First Street. The joint doubles as a wine bar with selections from around the world, and an ironworks shop for Nathalie's husband, Mark, called Vinum Fe.
We needed a location where my husband could do his metal work," Nathalie said. "That was basically the impetus to look for something where we could be together under the same roof."
Nathalie grew up in Alabama and became enamored with tales of Oregon wine country from reading about it while attended the University of Oregon. "I just thought this was by far the coolest sounding place. People are living a counter culture, it seemed to me." She moved to McMinnville three years ago and began making wine out of Walnut City Wineworks. She also held some restaurant jobs around the area before taking on her own venture with Mark.
"We've been able to form it exactly to our own funky, eclectic design," Nathalie said of their space. It's somewhat off the beaten path, but just a couple minutes walk from the heart of downtown McMinnville.
Nathalie said the building owner has plans to add more food and drink businesses to the commercial building across the street from the county's main bus station. A bakery is expected to open there soon, for instance.
"We're creating a culture where people will want to stay in that block for more than one reason," Nathalie said, calling it The Bohemian District. "It's kind of a world in itself. Vinum Ferus wine bar is open Thursday through Saturday, 3 to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit vinumferas.com.