Owner and wine guy extraordinaire, Jens has, frankly, a very unusual story. He is an anesthesiologist, intensive care & emergency doctor by training in his native Germany, but after finishing his residency in Dresden in 1999, he took off to be with his wife in Seattle. Upon arrival, he decided to take a break from studying (as he had to retake the American boards to practice medicine in the US) and do something fun to improve his conversational English, applying at Best Cellars, a local wine shop in the UniversityVillage. In Germany, wine had been his hobby since he was a teenager and his knowledge of European wines was deep, but American wines are seldom available in Germany and so a whole new world opened up for him to explore. He stayed at Best Cellars until he decided to forego medicine long-term for a life as a wine merchant, founding Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar with his wife, Julie, in 2003. The concept of combining a wine shop with a wine bar was his, as he was trying replicate his favorite German wine store, where all wines available for purchase were lined up on a narrow bar along one wall and you could taste whatever you were interested in before picking out your case to go. Portalis didn’t end up exactly in that format, but it is a place where, through the bar and a steady string of tastings, many wines are available to taste before making your selection. The beauty about Jens is that he doesn’t need to be told what’s good to buy it. He’s an early adopter if he thinks the wine is good for the money, and his customers value his knowledge, his pleasant directness (he’s German after all) and his knack for pairing them with the right wine.
Prior to our move to our new location in 2015, Jaci worked as one of our sales reps for J. Strecker Selections and as a writer for technical sheets and blogs for our websites. We were thrilled that she could join us full time managing the wine shop. She is a sommelier, artist and mother. If she looks familiar, it’s because she’s worked all over Seattle in hospitality (Volterra, Rays, Kaspars, DiStefano Winery) and the arts. Jaci loves to entertain, and can be rather entertaining in her own rite!