There are 16 American Viticultural Areas (AVA) that celebrate Oregon’s unique climate and terroir. 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.
I found a little slice of heaven in the Pacific Northwest with towering basalt cliffs and magical waterfalls. I spent my Glorious Vino con Vista Weekend in Hood River Oregon. It is located less than 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon in the Columbia Gorge area.
I found a “World of Wine in 40 miles.” The terroir replicates the characteristics and altitude of some of the finest wine regions of Europe. Melt from the glaciers enriched the soil making the Columbia Gorge one of the most “unique and prolific wine-growing regions on Earth.”
The Gorge is known for it’s wind; which benefits windsurfers and kiteboarders. The wind also helps the grapes stay healthy. This is considered the world’s best windsurfing destination.
Within 20 miles, the terroir changes from a rainforest to a desert. This spectrum, coupled with excellent volcanic soil creates micro-climates for growing many varietals. They even grow Morel, Chanterelle and Matsutakes mushrooms in this area. This is an ideal four-season, recreational, Vino con Vista wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts, wine enthusiasts and Foodies!
My latest 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 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.
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 (www.echelongranfondo.org) 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 (www.indiancreekgolf.com). If you like food, wine, waterfalls, fun and adventure; head to Hood River Oregon.
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.”
This area is 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. 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.”
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. www.foodriverfruitloop.com
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 ( www.co.hood-river.or.us/museum). Go to the Cascade Locks, a temperate rain forest that gets nearly 130 inches of rain per year. Check out the WIND Youth Regatta or the December Festival of Lights ( www.cascadelocks.com).
OK, I admit it, I like food and wine. I love visiting wineries and sometimes participate in harvest activities. I am fascinated by exploring local terroir. I love learning about the places where wine is grown and why people are passionate about their vineyards. I enjoy meeting the winemakers and learning their stories.
Oregon and Washington share the Columbia Valley AVA that was founded in 1984. The state border runs down the middle of the Columbia River. When you stay in Hood River, Oregon, you can cross the Hood River Bridge and visit some of the highest-elevation vineyards in the state of Washington. The Hood River Bridge is a truss bridge that has a vertical lift. The bridge connects the communities of Hood River, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington. Check out the Celilo Vineyard or Syncline Winery on the Washington side of the bridge. www.synclinewine.com
The Columbia Gorge AVA consists of four counties; Hood River and Wasco in Oregon; and Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington. It also includes the river valleys of Hood River and Deschutes River in Oregon and the Klickitat River in Washington. This area is located between Mount Hood in Oregon and Mount Adams in Washington. Mount Adams is a stratovolcano in in the Cascade range.
“The Cascade foothills get enough annual rainfall to make irrigation optional for some growers. The principal grapes are cool-climate varieties such as chardonnay, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, riesling, albarino and grüner veltliner.”
There are so many interesting Vino con Vista Places and actvities in the Gorge.
Here’s a list of interesting place to stay and explore Hood River:
1. The Historic Columbia Gorge Hotel and Spa is just west of the Hood River. It is perched on a scenic bluff above the Columbia River with sweeping views and vintage opoulence. It was built in 1921 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a favorite destination for Rudolf Valentino and Shirley Temple. A couple of our U.S. presidents even stayed here.
It is located at 4000 Westcliff Drive near Hood River (800-341-1921) www.columbiagorgehotel.com
2. Columbia Cliff Villas offers breathtaking views with in room spa services, wine and cooking classes.
It is located at 4000 Westcliff Drive www.columbiacliffvillas.com
3. The Historic Hood River Hotel was built in 1911 and is walking distance from all the downtown attractions. This is Hood River’s oldest hotel; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are celebrating their our 100th anniversary. Watch their historic photo tour.
The European boutique-style hotel is located at 102 Oak Street in Hood River. If you stay here, you will not need a designated driver when you leave the Hood River Tasting Rooms. www.hoodriverhotel.com
Step back in time as you enter this fully restored vintage hotel. Offering 41 rooms and suites, each different and individually appointed with antique reproductions. Enjoy the ambiance of a small European Inn as you soak in our Jacuzzi and spa facility. Our lobby, with a wood-burning fireplace and adjoining Cornerstone Cuisine Restaurant is the perfect place to relax after a day of adventure in the gorge.
The gallery provides a close look at the origins and evolution of the hotel itself. It also takes a sideways glance at Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge as the human footprint has changed over the century
4. Enjoy a unique experience at the farm at the Draper Girls Country Cottage where you can pick your own cherries when they’re in season. This charming venue is located on a 40 acre orchard nestled at the foot of Mount Hood www.drapergirlscountryfarm.com(541-490-8113).
Touring and Wine Tasting Adventures:
1. Cathedral Ridge Winery is at 4200 Post Canyon Drive in Hood River, Oregon. They have “over 20 different wines made from 10 different varietals.” All the grapes are grown within 30 miles of the winery and all the wine is made on site. I liked the 2009 Cathedral Ridge Syrah. www.cathedralridgewinery.com
2. Marchesi Vineyards and Winery
3955 Country Club Road in Hood River www.marchesivineyards.com
This winery specializes in Italian varietals and is located on the Heights of Hood River. I love the Barbera!!
Watch this video to learn about the winemaker; here’s Franco Marchesi talking about his wine http://www.vinestories.com/video.php?video=77354838001:
3. The The Pines 1852 Vineyard and Winery tasting room has an art gallery that features the work of regional artists. I met Lonnie Wright and his lovely daughter Sierra at a Wine Dinner at Phelps Creek Vineyards.
The Pines Vineyard’s Old Vine Zinfandel was first planted by an Italian stone mason named Louis Comini in the late 1800s. He brought his grape vines from his homeland in Genoa, Italy. These original plants are still producing; thanks to winemaker Peter Rossback and owner Lonni Wright. “The century Old Vine Zinfandel make The Pines one of the oldest vineyards in the Northwest.”
Try some of Lonni’s 2010 award-winning Old Vine Zinfandel from The Pines Vineyards at 5450 Mill Creek Road in The Dalles, Oregon or at the Tasting Room in Downtown Hood River. www.thepinesvineyard.com
4. Quenette Winery Tasting Hall; home of Copa di Vino is housed at the historic Sunsine Mill in The Dalles. Visit their 100 year old industrial space that they have converted into a tasting room at 901 East 2nd Street in The Dalles, Oregon.
The Sunshine Mill interior incorporates the original machinery of the flour mill that occupied this building since the turn of the century. They have a satellite tasting room in Hood River at 111 Oak Street. Try their Sangiovese and/or the black cherry and chocolatey Zinfandel. www.copadivino.com
5. Viento at 301 Country Club Road in Hood River. Meet winemaker Rich Cushman and check out his 30-year-old Riesling vineyard. Viento is open for tasting ath the Gorge White House Annes at 2265 Highway 35 in Hood River www.vientowines.com
6. Phelps Creek Vineyards
Located at 1850 Country Club Road in Hood River where the Tasting Room is a “stone’s Throw” from the estate vineyards. (541-386-2607 www.phelpscreekvineyards.com
Watch this video to learn about Bob Morus and the Phelps Creek Winery: http://www.vinestories.com/video.php?video=1537447585001
7. Naked Winery is located at the corner of 2nd and Cascade in Downtown Hood River. www.nakedwinery.com
8. Cascade Cliffs at 211 Oak Street in Hood River. I loved the intense estate grown Barbera.
Watch Bob Lorkowski talk about his winery http://www.vinestories.com/video.php?video=625388299001
9. Visit the Gorge White House where you can enjoy wine from the Gorge wineries under one roof.By the taste, the glass, or the bottle! One stop!http://www.thegorgewhitehouse.com/links.html.
Check out their calendar of events: http://www.thegorgewhitehouse.com/calendar.html
An exciting sightseeing adventure awaits you at “Cruise the Gorge” sightseeing tour www.sternwheeler.com. The Sternwheeler paddle-powered riverboat provides narrated day cruises on the river. It departs daily from the Cascade Locks (during the season) with special brunch and dinner cruises.
You can rent water sports equipment at the Hood River Waterfron Park or swim and picnic at Marina Park.
Explore the George
Martin’s Gorge Tours
Washington’s Columbia Gorge AVA (viticultural area) was officially approved in 2004.
Dine at these Restaurants:
The Celilo Restaurant and Bar at 16 Oak Street in Hood River has a seasonal menu with an extensive regional wine list. Their wine dinners were featured in Wine Spectator. www.celilorestaurant.com
Cornerstone Cuisine at the Hood River Hotel at 102 Oak Street www.hoodriverhotel.com
Nora’s Table 110 fifth Street in Hood River www.norastable.com
The Sixth Street Bistro and Loft at 509 Cascade Avenue has exceptional organic cuisine.
Three Rivers Grill at 601 Oak Street has spectacular views of the Columbia River with a deck and patio. www.threeriversgrill.com
18 hole championship Indian Creek Golf Course (541-386-7770)
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides and Apps @ www.vino-con-vista.com.
Here are some of the varietals that are grown in this amazing heavenly region:
Albarino • Aglianico • Barbera • Cabernet Franc • Cabernet Sauvignon • Chardonnay Dolcetto • Gamay • Gewurtztraminer • Grenache • Gruner Vertliner • Lemberger Malbec • Marsanne • Merlot • Mourvedre • Muscat • Nebbiolo • Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris • Pinot Noir • Primitivo • Riesling • Roussanne • Sangiovese Sauvignon Blanc • Syrah • Tempranillo • Viognier • White Riesling • Zinfandel