The pandemic, so far, has yet to take a toll on Sommi’s business—if anything, more Portlanders are looking to re-create the wine tasting experience within shuffling distance.

It didn’t exactly scream lounge: beige carpet, fluorescent lighting, metal folding chairs, neglected board games, and crutches from an old injury.

But one Southwest Portland family saw a brighter vision through the crap.

“The first time I met with the client, I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of junk in there,’” says designer Vieng Oudom of Sommi Wine Cellars. “They had a bunch of luggage and Halloween decorations in there. We gutted the whole thing. We started from scratch. Now it feels like you’re in a different world.”

Oudom, a former aeronautical engineer, started out in 2014 by creating a simple wine cabinet for his sister with the help of some local makers. When his sister moved the following year, the cabinet landed at Domaine Serene in Dundee—and Vieng’s been busy with orders ever since. He soon expanded into designing and building full custom wine cellars, primarily for private homes in Oregon. (The company is named for his sister—not, it turns out, for the word sommelier.) The pandemic, so far, has yet to take a toll on his business, he says—if anything, more Portlanders are looking to re-create the wine tasting experience within shuffling distance.

“The key components for a wine cellar are the insulation, a good cooling system, and a good seal,” says Oudom. “We will figure out how to insulate and cool the room down to 55 to 57 degrees. We can make pretty much any space work.”

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