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THE BUILDING AND THE WINERY:
SHALLON WINERY is located in downtown Astoria, Oregon, two blocks from the Maritime Museum and across the street from the Heritage Center. You will pass the winery at the bottom of the hill on 16th street if you come down 16th street from having visited the Astoria Column. The address is 1598 Duane Street, but the main entrance is on 16th street.
The winery building was built and owned by a well known architect, John E. Wicks, in 1925, after the Astoria fire in 1922, in the Mediterranean style for which there are other examples in Astoria. It first opened as an automotive showroom for Packard, Pontiac, and Oakland automobiles. In 1939 it was remodeled into a freezer-locker for the public and has six inches of solid cork in all the walls and under the concrete on the floor, and two feet of ground cork overhead. The sub-basement is at original Columbia river beach level which is below street level (after the 1922 fire, Astoria's wooden streets on pilings were returned to the original elevation with concrete chair-walls and concrete streets, leaving extensive underground chambers conveniently used for utilities).
The building remained a refrigerated locker rental business for 30 years until 1969. It was a bicycle shop from 1973 to 1977. The winemaker started a complete remodeling of the upper street level in 1977; the one floor now containing the manufacturing room, a full laboratory, office, storage room, printing room, tool room, and tasting room.
The tasting room looks out over the four to five mile width of the Columbia river and the green hills of Washington state across the river. The Columbia River flows west to the Pacific Ocean another ten miles. Visitors may also view the lab and manufacturing room that has a green floor, pink and grey walls, a lot of hospital white and stainless, and no windows except four "trope l'oeil" windows.
The "windows" view three things separated in time and space. One is of Fort Astoria as it actually would have looked through the winery window - if the window were there after 1811. One is of the airship Akron as viewed by Paul from Astoria when he was a youngster. The third view is of the Hawaiin Islands - at a great distance - in the direction they are from the winery. (The next two wineries southwest of Astoria are on Maui and on Hawaii.)
The TASTING and SALES room in the winery is open most every afternoon in the year, even Christmas and New Years. The sign says "1 to 6 p.m.," but as the winemaker gets older, the one o'clock opening gets pushed a little later. (365 days a year for some 26 years is devotion!) If Paul misses one day and can't get anybody to stand by for him, there will be a nasty note on the door, "We drove 200 miles to get to your winery, and you weren't open!"
You can call the winery at (503) 325-5978
THE NAME OF THE WINERY:
The winemaker's favorite local wild plant is the Salal with it's flowers and unusual berries. The Latin name for Salal is Gaultheria shallon. Salal grows from southern Alaska to northern California usually west of the Coast Range mountains. It is used in landscaping and flower arrangements, much of its wild foliage is picked and shipped to florists throughout the country where it is known as "lemon-leaf". It grows all along the highways, low to the ground and again taller in the woods. It has a small urn shaped pinkish white drooping flower and a round black berry with not much juice. Half the people that grow up here do not know what it is, and the other half's mothers and grandmothers told them it is poisonous. The fruit is not poisonous; the Indians used it all the time; it makes an excellent jam, jelly, or pie, but we cannot make wine from it, because it needs to be diluted with water, and the government wouldn't let us add that much water to a wine. The evergreen leaves are sturdy and leathery, making nice Christmas wreaths, the older leaves dark green, the younger leaves light green.
This is a good botanical drawing of the Salal (Gaultheria shallon):