Basket Case Wines Review
Address: 6425 Pacific Avenue Unit B Pacific City,Oregon 97135.
Tasting Hours: See website for wine tasting details.
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 7/22/2014
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Know how to make a Texas girl happy? Take her to Oregon in the middle of the summer, where it’s 30 degrees cooler. Drive her down the Oregon Coast, let her stop to take pictures, play in the sand on the beach, and dip her toes into the Pacific Ocean (cold!). Then stop at a winery. At least, that’s how to make THIS Texas girl happy. I just had to stop at a winery called Basket Case. I figured, if nothing else, it had to have personality.
When we parked in front of the place, I thought perhaps it had a personality disorder. It’s got two names! Clearly, on the front of the store, it says “Basket Case Wines Wine Tasting,” and “Twist Wine.” It ALSO says “Ribcage BBQ” and “Reversal Apparel and Gifts!” This place seems to be the Sybil of wine bars.
So of course we went in.
The Place:  I think the only word to use to describe this place is random. Look at the photos there are two mannequins outside, modeling beachwear and towels. You’re greeted by a huge orange diving guy just inside the front door! (Still not sure what’s up with that!) There’s a barbecue joint attached, as well as a gift shop that carries a variety of items, including some truly outrageous socks. Unfortunately you can’t really see the view from the wine bar, but just down the street, the ocean view is gorgeous. You can see the 4th largest monolith in the world, parked out in the water, as explained by our lovely barkeep Leslie.
The People:  There were three team members floating around Leslie behind the bar, another gentleman who came in and out, and another woman staffing the gift shop. All were friendly, even the guy who happened to have a T-shirt on that poked fun at Texas. But Leslie was sensational. Not only did she give us a tasting, and take care of the two patrons already at the bar, but she knew pretty much everyone who came in, and poured drinks with an effortlessness and a big smile. She’s the kind of bartender you want to have at your local watering hole. And surprisingly, that’s what this felt like the local watering hole. It’s unusual for a winery and granted, they did serve beer also, but it seems like the locals made the place a regular hangout. No one seemed to mind the Texas tourists invading their territory.
The Wines:  I never did quite understand the relationship between Twist and Basket Case Wines. Twist seems to be the name of the wine bar, the physical building. According to the website, Basket Case makes wine in nearby McMinnville; we tasted wines under three different labels, Shy Chenin, Reversal, and Stumbling Block. They strive to be the unpretentious winery, and I think they’ve achieved that goal! I remarked on the fact that they serve beer in addition to wine, which I think is great for the sometimes unfortunate companions of wine lovers who happen to be beer drinkers more than they are wine drinkers. Leslie’s response: “It takes a lot of good beer to make good wine!”
We started with the Shy Chenin Chenin Blanc. It seems that one of the owners is actually named Chenin, and her parents planted a vineyard and named her after it. Seriously cool! The Chenin Blanc is a bit sharp at first, then smooths out, and is definitely drinkable. Then we had the Shy Chenin Syrah Rose, which is dry and smooth, and would be a great poolside wine. I thought the Stumbling Block white table wine, off sweet, didn’t taste like much, but might be good for making punch or sangria. The Stumbling Block Merlot also was light, tasted of blackberry, and didn’t have much substance.
The Reversal Cabernet Sauvignon (2009) was a bit understated and didn’t taste overwhelmingly of any single flavor. My favorite was the Reversal Syrah (2011), which has a nice nose and is really smooth. The Stumbling Block red table wine was a bit ordinary, and the Shy Chenin dessert wine tasted of cotton candy. My favorite, by far, was the Reversal Syrah.
The Experience:  I enjoyed this experience tremendously. If you’re looking for an elitist winery, look elsewhere. If you’re looking to kick back and have a good time while drinking some unpretentious Oregon wine, this is the place to be.