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This Portland Wine Bar Wants to Share the World of Wine

Cover Image for This Portland Wine Bar Wants to Share the World of Wine
By Morgan Carter

Since 2017, Les Caves has drawn wine aficionados down its eighteen-seater bunker bar for a taste of both regional and international wines. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, co-owner Jeff Vejr had to close up shop in March 2020, but he still found ways to deliver curated wine bundles all around Portland. In August of 2021, Les Caves returned to the scene, reopening with a surprise sister concept: Le Clos. A far cry from its subterranean sister, the outdoor patio bar is peppered with greenery and loads of natural light. But even with a new space, both Les Caves and Le Clos ask guests to “come and explore the world of wine.” We chatted with Vejr about how he persevered the pandemic, his newest outdoor space, and how he is continuing to share the world of wine with his guests.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you had to close Les Caves in March of 2020. How were you able to sustain business during this period?

We closed down on March 16th, 2020, a full week before the Oregon state mandate was put into effect. I gave myself a few days to absorb the rapidly changing world around me and to mourn the closing of our beloved bar. Then I spent another two days figuring out how I wanted to continue to serve our customers and community. I spent two days building out an online store and contacting all of my distributors to see who was willing to work with me on this new model. I built an entirely new business from top to bottom in six days. We launched our first online wine pack offering on March 22nd. The support we received from that first offering and our new business model was overwhelming. To this day, it is one of my proudest moments at Les Caves. I spent over a year building out themed wine packs and delivering them throughout the Portland Metro area. We never stopped serving, we were just providing it in a different way.

Les Caves x Le Clos
Interior of Les Caves.

You were finally able to reopen Les Caves in August of 2021. What did it feel like on opening day?

It was a magical night, very humbling. We knew how special Les Caves was to our community, and we worked very hard to put ourselves in a position to be able to reopen once again. But we had a big surprise for our returning customers—we built an entirely new outdoor wine bar on the premises.

Les Caves x Le Clos
Interior of Le Clos.

Of course, you are speaking about your new patio bar, Le Clos. Tell us a little about what kind of experience people can have there.

We built Le Clos because we were unsure that we would ever get to reopen Les Caves. Les Caves seats 20. It is very small and intimate—that’s the allure. But when the requirements to reopen were keeping six feet away from another guest and ample room to move around, we couldn’t meet any of those demands. So, we got creative and built an outdoor wine bar.

Sharing wine, not hoarding wine, is our ethos.”

Les Caves is known for its selection of Oregon wines alongside international selections. How do you approach curating the wine menu?

We pour what excites and inspires us. We always say, “Come and explore the world of wine with us.” We firmly believe in this motto and are committed to this lifestyle of sharing.

How often does your menu rotate?

Weekly, we are constantly adding and subtracting. We have a reputation for pouring limited and allocated wines by the glass. We are unafraid to pour something we only get a case of. Sharing wine, not hoarding wine, is our ethos.

What is a wine that you currently have on your list that you think everyone should know about?

Our “Winesman’s Pick” is the most popular glass pour on the menu by far. It’s a mystery pour of a grape, region, or style of wine that most guests have never tried before. We don’t tell you right away what the wine is, you just have to experience it for yourself. It’s an opportunity for the guest to try something new. It alleviates having to pronounce a funny French or Italian word. We don’t expect you to know all [the] grapes and regions, we simply wanted to encourage exploration.  

Les Caves x Le Clos also has a range of orange wines. For those who are new to the varietal, what should they know about orange wines? 

The best way to think about orange wines is this: orange wines are white grapes processed and made like red wines. Rosés are red grapes, processed and made like white wines. Orange wines will have slight tannins and will exhibit flavors of dried fruits and spices. They are excellent bridge wines. If you find yourself only drinking red wines, then orange wines are a great gateway to enjoying white wines. Conversely, if you only drink white wines, orange wines are a great gateway to red wines.

Cheers at Les Caves x Le Clos

Les Caves is also known for its popular grilled cheeses. What’s the perfect wine and grilled cheese pairing?

Try one of our Georgian orange wines with our Georgian inspired grilled cheese. Now THAT is a fun pairing!

What is the future for Les Caves x Le Clos?

To continue our commitment to our goal of sharing the world of wine with our guests!


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