If you’ve ever wondered how we find tasty new ingredients, quirky but delicious wines, and obscure vermouths, here’s our secret: Joe Dixon.
Jim’s oldest son spent more than 20 years working in restaurants, doing everything from making pizza at the neighborhood joint to working the pass and tending bar at upscale restaurants. After a long spell at world-famous rum bar Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, the prodigal son came home to Oregon to start his company Mill A Cider (and help out his dad with the family olive oil business). These days, as the lead buyer for Wellspent Market, he spends his time hunting down small producers of good stuff, everything from umami-boosting condiments and heirloom quality tinned fish to salty snacks and fizzy orange wine. We’re here today to talk mostly about the wine.
“My approach to wine buying – really all product buying – is informed by my dad’s original vision for Real Good Food: I look for real wines made by real people in interesting ways. I lean heavily into so-called natural wines (a loosey-goosey term which I define as non-industrially-produced wines made from grapes and yeast, i.e no fillers or flavoring or funny stuff), but I’m less concerned about trace amounts of sulfur than I am about producer transparency. That means our shelf is stocked with bottles from all over the world, and you’ll find stuff from Oregon and Italy and France, but also Mexico, Georgia and Slovenia.”
Portland is lucky to have quite a few specialty wine distributors, and Joe relies on his relationships with these small vendors to suss out particularly interesting stuff, always at approachable prices. “I know when I’m out wine shopping, I’m usually looking for a bottle to drink right away, which means I’m generally looking for something under $30, and at the shop I like to keep an assortment of interesting bottles on the shelf at prices that won’t break the bank. This makes it less intimidating for shoppers who are new to wine, and also allows folks to come grab something delicious for that mid-week dinner without having to splurge too much.”
So the next time you sprinkle our Greek smoked chili flakes over a plate of grilled zucchini, pop the top on a bottle of Italian espresso soda, or go home with a new favorite wine, thank Joe.
Those of you who’ve shopped with us for a few years know that every spring we offer our customers a chance to participate in our Olive Oil CSA* to help us continue supporting our small farm partners.
The CSA works like this: You buy a CSA share for $100. 60 days after purchase, that share is worth $120, and it’s good for anything we sell at Wellspent Market, not just olive oil. In the past you had to buy a share before the end of May, but this year we’re extending the offer. International shipping has been severely impacted by the pandemic, and while Italy is slowly opening up, our olive oil delivery has been delayed. To make it easier for people to sign up we increased the number of available share by 100 just last week.
So if you missed it the first time around, now is your chance to grab one of our last available CSA shares before our container arrives sometime (we hope!) in late July.
*We know it’s not technically a CSA, but who wants to read about Olive Oil Futures?