By Fred Delkin
An imaginative wine entrepreneur has established a taste of Hawaii just a block from Portland’s Pioneer Square. Mark Proden served in our Air Force as pilot and engineer for 11 years before launching a new career based upon the fermented grape. While studying at Salem’s Northwest Viticulture Center, Proden apprenticed at several Oregon wineries while creating his own label, Bodichitta, from Oregon grape varietals. He then moved to Kauai, where he applied his newfound knowledge to creating wines from mango, guava, passion fruit and pineapple.
Now Proden has taken the bold marketing step of opening a retail shop and wine tasting room in the heart of Portland (website here). A tropical decor inspired by Hawaii embraces anyone entering Island Mana Wines at 526 SW Yamhill. Inside, a tasting bar sampling both Island Mana and Bodichitta labels.
Proden defines Mana as an “Hawaiian word describing the spirit, energy and essence of the islands…the beautiful beaches, dramatic cliffs and stunning sunsets,” and says it evokes the “incredible tropical fruit in every bottle.”
The Bodichitta (Sanskrit for ‘inner self’ or ‘soul’) label adorns bottles of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon crafted from Oregon grapes. Proden has also extended his craftsmanship to a line of sprays, bath salts and perfumes…an aromatherapy collection based upon organically grown lavender.
The store’s Hawaiian atmosphere is enhanced on Thursdays and Fridays, 4:30-6:30 p.m., by live ukulele music. Mondays are termed “Movie Night” with a screening from 7-9 p.m. that features one of a myriad of feature films shot on Hawaiian locations.
Island Mana Wines bold tropical sojourn is open daily and weekends at 9 a.m. There’s no shortage of public parking garage space nearby and Tri-met service abounds.