Explore Oregon Wines: Wineries | Varietals | AVAs | Cellar 503 Selections

Love & Squalor

Love & Squalor 2016 Willamette Valley Riesling

The romance of life among the vines

Maybe you entertain notions of a glamorous life as a winemaker – waking up with the dawn in a vineyard, strolling among the vines, tasting the barrels as they mature.

Winemaker Matt Berson is here to disabuse you of that notion. As he likes to say, “it’s equal parts barrel heaving, lab tinkering, hand wringing, and business minutiae.” But once it gets under your skin it’s hard to do anything else.

And that conflict is the inspiration for the Love & Squalor name – stolen from the title of a J.D. Salinger short story. Matt found it on a shelf in a thrift store. “There it was, in one short phrase – winemaking as I know it. I think it’s basic – passion and poverty are two of the building blocks for any worthy endeavor.”

Love & Squalor was launched in 2007 with just 65 cases. Along the way, he struggled and scrimped. And then, wine lovers started to notice. He doubled production. And he doubled production again.

Now, producing a few thousand cases a year, Berson has opened a beloved tasting room in Southeast Portland where folks can taste the product of all that not-so-glam struggle.

Love & Squalor

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Love & Squalor, Portland, Oregon
2016 Willamette Valley Riesling

Ah, Oregon Riesling. It’s a glorious grape, bright and crisp; not at all cloying or syrupy.

As Wine Enthusiast’s Paul Gregutt put it, “Oregon’s many Riesling specialists offer more diversity, value and quality than anywhere on the West Coast.” Why? Many of Oregon’s original winemakers planted Riesling along with their Pinot Noir to provide a cash crop to support their Pinot Noir. Riesling vines, after all, develop a unique character as they age.

Most winemakers try to highlight a single vineyard in each wine. Berson’s technique is to produce blends — even single varietal wines from different vineyards. He says “Blending for me is like putting together a dinner for friends—pairing ingredients, choosing spices and herbs, squeezing a lemon on top. I like to compose a plate and let the flavors mingle.”

This dry Riesling is 43% Sunnyside Vineyard, Salem and 57% Roncali Vineyard, West Eugene. The key to all of Matt’s wines is balance, but it is even more apparent in this gorgeous Riesling. The play of sugar, acid and alcohol results in a sum that is greater than its parts. You’ll taste apricots and peaches alongside green apple, citrus, and perhaps even a few tropical fruit notes.

A Cellar 503 selection in November 2021, Thanksgiving Wines Willamette Valley | Riesling