Wayne Oppenheimer, the Wine Wizard, is a familiar face throughout Portland and the Willamette Valley wine country. He’s a busy man with several different facets to his business; a wine shop in SE Portland, a wine tour company, regular wine classes and tastings, a popular wine club and a vast video library of interviews and wine reviews. Ultimately, he’s focused on making wine fun while educating wine drinkers around the world, all while sporting purple hair, fingernails, and occasionally, a wizard’s hat and cape.
Summer is a busy time for wineries in the Willamette Valley with many wine enthusiasts visiting from nearby and travelers from afar. Wayne noticed this growing trend back in May of 2009 and A Great Oregon Wine Tour was born as he began offering tours to wine lovers of the Willamette Valley departing from Portland. But his tours are unlike any others out there.
Passionate about wine, Wayne drives his passengers down to the Willamette Valley in a comfortable purple bus, all the while explaining the reasons why our region grows such great wine grapes. Describing the geologic forces that shaped the valley, optimum weather conditions and grape varietals that do best here, he engages his riders, getting them excited about the upcoming stops along the wine tour. Wayne knows the entire valley well and chooses the wineries based on his customers’ preferences. And everyone can enjoy the wines poured along with way without having to worry because the Wine Wizard is their designated driver. Since every trip is unique, his customers regularly book tours to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special events knowing they will have a memorable experience.
Wayne’s wine shop, WineUp Wine Merchants, arose from the need to better serve his out-of-town tour customers. After buying wine at the wineries they had no easy way to get the wine back home. Discovering an opportunity to solve this problem, Wayne’s shipping service eventually became a full-service wine shop with extremely competitive prices. Now with over 1500 bottles, WineUp Wine Merchants has great deals on wines from the Pacific Northwest and around the globe.
Another segment of WineUp is aptly called WineUpTV!; where the Wine Wizard has an extensive library of video wine reviews and interviews with winemakers. Viewers can watch hundreds of videos of Wayne discussing wines and explaining their nuances in a very simple and engaging manner. He’s part of a small but growing group of people that poke fun at the snobbery so often associated with the wine industry. With purple fingernails and hair, Wayne would rather celebrate wine with laughter and fun.
As people watched his videos and learned more about various wines from different places around the world, their interest was piqued so Wayne began offering wine classes. Beginners can enroll in an introductory course that covers the basics of wine in just two hours. Those more interested in a specific region or varietal should check out Wayne’s other classes. His passion for wine is contagious and his students return often to learn more.
Recently the Wine Wizard got enough requests from his customers that he’s started a wine club. Within just four months, the club has grown to almost 80 members! Since Wayne is striving to educate people about wine varietals and different wine regions, he and his staff work to include relevant information and maps with each shipment. He encourages his International Wine Discoveries Club members to add the resources to a binder supplied with the initial wine order. With each new shipment, Wayne’s wine club members are building a library of information that will help them better understand and enjoy the wines they’re drinking.
Wayne’s methods may be odd, sporting purple hair is not something you see much in the wine industry, but he’s keeping Portland weird and his fans love that about him. So if you haven’t yet met Wayne, the Wine Wizard, follow one of the many links in this article to see for yourself how his passion for wine is contagious. Then, you too will agree that he’s keeping Portland weird one wine drinker at a time.