A Portland winemaker has the best truck innovation since Bill Clinton lined the bed of his El Camino with Astroturf: the pickup wine store.
Corey Schuster makes his Jackalope Cellars wines at the urban winery facility located inside the Portland Wine Building. When the coronavirus crisis forced the winery to close its tasting room doors to the public, Schuster needed to find a new way to sell wine to the locals.
Schuster was mulling over offering curbside pick-up service when he thought, “why not just use the curb in front of my house to sell wine out of my pickup truck?” Amazingly, it turns out, that is legal in Oregon.
Two weeks ago, Schuster started selling bottles of wine from the back of his 1984 GMC Sierra 2500 pickup truck. The new Jackalope Cellars outlet store parked on Southeast Taylor Street features a lawn chair, signs and display bottles. It is without a doubt the city’s first wine store with a 350-cubic-inch V8 engine.
When a customer places an order, Schuster fetches bottles of wine from his nearby house. This is allowed by the same day delivery permit issued to Schuster by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).
Other than the occasional wash and wax job, Schuster operates his pickup truck like any traditional brick and mortar wine store. He does not, however, conduct al fresco wine tastings or sell wine by the glass. Schuster is also careful to wear a mask and gloves while conducting contact-free sales.
“It’s lawful for Corey to sell wine from his pickup truck, and it’s a clever way of delivering wine to folks,” says Judy Parker, a Portland-based wine law specialist who acts as Schuster’s attorney.
In addition to adhering to all relevant OLCC requirements, Schuster has two rules of his own: don’t ask for a ride, and don’t ask him to honk the store’s horn because it doesn’t work.
Even though Schuster, in his trucker hat and sunglasses, looks more like a chain gang supervisor than a winemaker, business has been excellent. Schuster says he’s already sold 10-12 cases of wine in a few short sessions. “The foot traffic – literally – has been pretty steady,” Schuster says.
Have any of Schuster’s neighbors complained about having a vehicular wine store on their street?
“The neighbors love it,” Schuster says. “One lovely, self-described ‘old-fashioned Southeast Portland hippy’ that lives across the street told me she was glad to see some of old Portland’s grit and wackiness was still around.”
Getting to meet all his neighbors, some for the first time, hasn’t been the only benefit to the wine truck.
“I have a way better tan than I usually do this time year and the exposure for Jackalope Cellars has been just as good,” Schuster says.
Schuster has been having so much fun he says he may keep the truck going a few days a week, even after Portland Wine Company re-opens its tasting room to the public.
“If I do that I will definitely have to come up with a catchier name than ‘The Wine Truck’ or ‘Jackalope Wine Wagon,’” Schuster says.
If you would like to visit Schuster’s wine truck, it is parked on Southeast Taylor Street between 34th and 35th Avenues. Unless it’s raining or hailing, he is open for business most evenings from 5 to 7 p.m., with longer hours on the weekend.
Send a text to 971-533-8834 if you would like more information about pickup truck hours of operation or to place an order in advance. A list of available wines may be found on the Jackalope Cellars website, or listed on the dry erase board next to Schuster’s lawn chair.
Jackalope Cellars, jackalopewinecellars.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Michael Alberty writes about wine for The Oregonian/OregonLive. He can be reached at email@example.com. To read more of his coverage, go to oregonlive.com/wine.
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