Award Winning Wines at Cathedral Ridge Winery in Gorge-ous Hood River Oregon

The small town of Hood River is a magical place in the Columbia River Gorge area with a population of almost 7200 people. Hood River is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Oregon, boasting an exceptional quality of life.
It is one of the most scenic and historic geographic regions in the United States. Prehistoric lava flows and repeated cataclysmic floods and glaciers created the magnificent Columbia River Gorge scenery. Hood River County was established in 1908.
The Hood River is a tributary of the Columbia River. Visit the History Museum of Hood River County on 33 E. Port Marina Drive in Hood River to learn more about this spectacular area ( Go to the Cascade Locks, a temperate rain forest that gets nearly 130 inches of rain per year.

Hood River County Fruit Loop

This area is also called the Hood River County Fruit Loop and has incredible stone-fruit orchards and wineries. Lavender fields, heirloom apple orchards and alpaca farms are abundant. Fruit grown in this fertile valley is of such exceptional quality that this region is the world leader in Anjou pear production. The Hood River Valley’s 15,000 acres of orchards “produce 50% of the nation’s winter pear crop.” You can even pick your own cherries and Gravenstein apples! There are many festivals that celebrate the bounty of this spectacular agricultural region including: “The Hood River Fruit Loop Cherry Celebration”; “The Oregon Lavender Festival”; and “The Gravenstein Apple Celebration.” They even grow Morel, Chanterelle and Matsutakes mushrooms in this area.


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Make plans to attend the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest in October or the Hood River Fruit Loop Wine Celebration in June. There are plenty of wineries on the “Fruit Loop” circuit west of the Hood River around Country Club Road including: Phelps Creek Veineyards, Marchesi Vineyards, Cathedral Ridge Winery, Hood River Vineyards, Pleasant Valley Winery and Viento.

My latest wine-blogging adventure brought me to Oregon’s Wine Country where Mount Hood and Mount Adams dominate the scenic landscape in the Columbia Gorge. This glorious destination has the largest concentration of high waterfalls in North America. Mount Hood has 6 ski areas and Timberline offers the only year round lift for skiing in North America.

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The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area protects the spectacular canyon where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade mountains. There are magnificent cliffs that overlook Washington to the north and Oregon’s mountains and waterfalls to the south.
“To protect the Columbia River Gorge’s resources while also maintaining a working landscape, the region was designated by Congress as the nation’s second — and largest — National Scenic Area.”
“The official designation took place on November 17, 1986 when President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act. The Act drew boundaries for a 292,500 acre patchwork of public and private lands and charged the USDA Forest Service with developing and implementing a management plan in partnership with the newly established bi-state Columbia River Gorge Commission.”
Image result for Multnomah Falls
 “The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon, 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep, that meanders past cliffs, spires, and ridges set against nearby peaks of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Mountain Range. Shaped by ancient volcanoes and floods, the Gorge is also rich in culture and history, and home to 75,000 people. It’s also a vital transportation and communication corridor where trains, barges, and highways support an interstate commerce, and natural forces generate wind and hydro-logic power.”
I adore this little slice of heaven in the Pacific Northwest with towering basalt cliffs and magical waterfalls.  This was my second Glorious Vino con Vista Weekend in Hood River Oregon; located less than 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon. This is an ideal four-season, recreational, Vino con Vista wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts, Wine Enthusiasts and Foodies!
This magnificent scenic ares is known for stunning vistas and world famous windsurfing.Hood River map Every kind of wind and water sport is available nearby, as well as biking, hiking, camping, rock climbing, fly-fishing, snow boarding and skiing on Mt. Hood where Olympians practice at Summer Camp. The region is brimming with outdoor activities and events like:  “White Salmon Backyard Half-Run-Hike”; “Kiteboarding for Cancer”; “Mt. Hood Cycling Classic”; The Hood River “Echelon Gran-Fono” bike race and festival ( and the “Fort Dalles Days Pro Rodeo”.
The U.S. Windsurfing National Championships were held in this windsurfing mecca. The local Wet Planet Whitewater Rafting Company recently earned “eco-certification”. The Gorge is a premier venue for Paddleboarding. The Hood River Yacht Club hosts Wednesday night sailboat races. You can even gaze at Mount Hood as you play a round of golf at Indian Creek Golf Course ( If you like food, wine, waterfalls, fun and adventure; head to Hood River Oregon.
Timberline and USSA Partnership has Olympic athletes flocking to Mt. Hood since Timberline and the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) announced a non-exclusive agreement making Mt. Hood the official training site for Team USA skiers and snowboarders. The high chairlift at the Timberline Lodge Ski Area tops out at over 8000 feet elevation.  The resort has the longest ski season in the country, operating into September. Ski and snowboard teams spent their summers at Timberline practicing for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. “Mount Hood’s six ski areas are: Timberline Lodge, Mountain Hood Meadows, Mount Hood Ski Bowl, Cooper Spur, Snow Bunny, and Summit. On the south side of Mount Hood lies Timberline Lodge (1816m).  Mount Hood Meadows (1379m) is one of the largest ski resorts in Oregon.”
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The stunning scenery features a dramatic climate shift from the temperate rain forest of Cascade Locks to the high desert at The Dalles, all occurring in about 50 miles. Fir and spruce give way to pines and scrub oak, and eventually to nothing but tall grass as one continues to move eastward into Washington. I traveled from Walla Walla Washington to Hood River and I was amazed at the change in the micro-climates as I moved west along the Columbia River.

The Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area (AVA)

Hood River overlooks the Columbia River in the heart of the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area (AVA), which includes areas in Oregon and Washington. This premier grape growing region has become a mecca for wine tourism. There are 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVA) that celebrate Oregon’s unique climate and terroir. The windy Gorge benefits windsurfers and kite boarders but it also helps the grapes because it hinders bugs and mold. The wind also helps the grapes stay healthy. Within 20 miles, as the terroir changes from a rain forest to a desert coupled with excellent volcanic soil creates micro-climates for growing many varietals.
If you follow my blog, you know that I love “Touring and Tasting” in wine regions around the world. I even write books about Wine Tourism in Italy. Along a 40-mile stretch of the Columbia River there are 83 vineyards and 36 wineries, along with 11 brewpubs, plenty of cider houses and even a few distilleries where you can sip and savor the flavors of Hood River.

English: Looking east up the Columbia River Go...
Looking east up the Columbia River Gorge, from Crown Point in Oregon, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found a “World of Wine in 40 miles” where the terroir replicates the characteristics and altitude of some of the finest wine regions of Europe. This 40 mile stretch of terroir experiences dramatic temperature and rainfall changes that almost perfectly duplicate four of the world’s greatest grape-growing regions: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Rhine.

Hiking near Starvation Creek in the Columbia R...
Hiking near Starvation Creek in the Columbia River gorge in Oregon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fun in Hood River

A man kitesurfing on the Columbia River Gorge ...
A man kite-surfing on the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River, Oregon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Hood River Bridge seen from Hood River, Or... The Hood River Bridge seen from Hood River, Oregon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 The Cathedral Ridge Winery

On this trip, I had the opportunity to visit Cathedral Ridge Winery and met Robb Bell the Owner/President/Cellar Master.

The Cathedral Ridge Winery sources an amazing array of varietals all within 40 miles of the historic Columbia River. It was voted Oregon’s Winery of the Year in 2007.

The Cathedral Ridge Winery has 13  local vineyards with distinct micro-climates that produce virtually every classic wine varietal. The fruit is picked and crushed in under six hours for optimal freshness and flavor. “Their fourth-generation winemaker, Michael Sebastiani uses traditional techniques to create 27 delicious, unique and marvelously nuanced wines, perfect for pairing with your favorite recipes.”

History of Cathedral Ridge

In 2003, Don Flerchinger decided to put his vineyard– Flerchinger Vineyards – up for sale. Robb Bell, retired from a marketing background at Procter & Gamble made him an offer.

Flerchinger focused on Alsatian varietals for the winery. The same Riesling and Pinot Gris grapes that Don Flerchinger planted in the 1980’s still bare fruit today. When Bell acquired the winery, he encouraged his “virtual godson Michael Sebastiani of Sonoma wine-making notoriety to become the winemaker. Bell and Sebastiani then switched the focus to a trilogy of Alsatian, Burgundian, and Bordeaux inspired varietals” and Cathedral Ridge was born. Robb and Michael Sebastiani, a fourth generation Sonoma winemaker lead the wine-making team.

Big, bold reds make up the majority of the Bordeaux wines in France. Some of the most common grapes grown in Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Great Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also flourish in the Hood River Valley with rich, beautiful colors and bold tastes. “Cathedral Ridge has a  Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot wine; a blend of premium grapes from the Columbia Valley. Together they represent the boldness of the Bordeaux region with a touch of Columbia Valley charm.”

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This unique growing region allows them “to embrace a trinity of different growing region varietals including grapes from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace; reminiscent of the great wine regions of the world.”  The Tasting Room is located just 5 minutes from downtown Hood River with magnificent views of Mt. Adams to the north and Mt. Hood to the south west.

Cathedral Ridge is one of the most award-winning wineries in the Gorge. Visit the tasting room at:

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“The Burgundy region is nestled in eastern France along the banks of the Saone River, a tributary of the famous Rhone River. This same Burgundy climate is scattered along the Columbia Gorge tucked away by the Columbia River. Similar to the Burgundy region, the Columbia Gorge experiences sporadic weather ranging from unpredictable snow, rain, frost, and even heat. All of these factors affect harvest and creates a lot of variance from vintage to vintage. Burgundian varietals require a lot of attention and care for optimum results, but they are well worth the effort.” (Robb)

Cathedral Ridge strives to “represent these varietals in their true Burgundian styles. Fortunate to live in a climate and geographical setting conducive to growing premium Burgundian varietals, we carefully complete each step of the wine-making process to ensure the best results. Michael Sebastiani’s master palate, Robb, John, Francisco and Tyler’s work in the winery and the field, and the efforts of the whole team these wines receive the attention and care required. The result is a spicy, elegant, and ready to drink but ready to age Pinot Noir.” (Robb)

“The Syrah grape flourishes in the Columbia Valley area; if cared for correctly, its vibrancy will jump out with every glass and age to perfection. The only red varietal permitted in the Rhone region is Syrah, which happens to be one the biggest, boldest award winners at Cathedral Ridge with the flavors of white pepper, plums, blackberries, chocolate, and spice.” (Robb)

Their Rhone Syrah attracts a large following. There Syrah has historically attracted the most attention, pulling in many reviews and awards including Double Gold in the San Francisco International Wine Competition.”

“Some of the strong points of Cathedral Ridges’ current wine list include its Reserve Syrah – a perennial award winner and best seller – and its Dampier Pinot Noir. Located on the north side of the Columbia River sits Dampier Vineyard in Underwood Mountain, WA. Much higher in elevation, approximately 1100 feet, this vineyard benefits from south facing slopes with great exposure to the sun and cool gorge winds throughout the growing season. This is a true Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir. Facing over 1700 wines, including a number of formidable Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, the 2010 Dampier Pinot Noir was awarded a Gold Medal and “Best of Show Pinot Noir” at the 2013 Northwest Wine Summit.”

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Here are some of their award-winning wines:

“Best of Show Pinot Noir”

2010 Dampier Vineyard Pinot Noir – NW Wine Summit 2013

“Best in Class”

2015 Dampier Pinot Noir – NW Wine Summit 2018
2016 Necessity White – Savor NW 2018
2013 Echo Vineyard Petit Verdot – NW Wine Summit 2016

Wine Enthusiast Ratings:

90: 2013 Zinfandel
89: 2014 McDuffee Vineyard Chardonnay Reserve
88: 2014 McDuffee Vineyard Chardonnay
88: 2014 Barbera Reserve
87: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
87: 2015 The Daughters’ Reserve
87: 2015 Rhett’s Red Reserve

To learn more about their awards visit:


Phelps Creek Vineyards in the Columbia Gorge

Phelps Creek Vineyards in the Columbia Gorge

Multnomah Waterfall in Oregon

Multnomah Waterfall in Oregon

Mount Hood in Oregon

Mount Hood in Oregon

Mount Hood glaciers Mount Hood glaciers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mount Hood from Hood River by William Keith Mount Hood from Hood River by William Keith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Triple Falls, Columbia Gorge
Triple Falls, Columbia Gorge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mount Adams 3'742m, Washington, USA - with Ech... Mount Adams 3’742m, Washington, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wines in the Gorge

Tasting Rooms in Hood River

Mount Hood

Mount Hood in Oregon

Pick Your Own Cherries in Hood River Oregon

Map of Oregon highlighting Hood River County Map of Oregon highlighting Hood River County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More Places to Sip and Savor the Wines of Hood Valley

No one leaves the Gorge thirsty! Some top spots on the Oregon side include:

  1. Marchesi Vineyards, which specializes in Italian varieties. The Sangiovese and Primitivo are especially noteworthy.
  2. The tasting room at Phelps Creek Vineyards overlooks the Hood River Golf Course where you can sip estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and enjoy a picnic lunch amid jaw-dropping views of Mount Hood.
  3. Pines 1852 is named for its century-old Zinfandel vineyard where you can arrange vineyard tours for your group, or pour from a full range of wines in its downtown tasting room.
  4. Viento sources its grapes from top regional vineyards, and owner Rich Cushman can fill you in on local hot-spots for dining, drinking and adventuring.
  5. Wy’East Vineyards is one of Oregon’s highest-altitude vineyards. It has a pet-friendly tasting room, which features picnic areas and two bocce ball courts.
  6. Thunder Island Brewing Company is on the river at Cascade Locks. Stop here for small-batch brews and a kid-friendly menu.
  7. For a spirited finale, try the Pendleton whiskies at Hood River Distillers.

Just west of town and right on the river is the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, which provides elegant accommodations and lovely gardens. Also along the river is the Columbia Cliff Villas, which offers Euro-style lodging. Both have spectacular views. Best downtown options are the Hampton Inn & Suites Hood River (newly remodeled, river view), the Hood River Hotel (a bit noisy, but within walking distance to everything) and the Oak Street Hotel, a 1909 home converted into a cozy B&B.

Please visit the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce to learn about accommodations, dining, local events and more.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes about her adventures as a “Globe-Trotting Wino.”

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