If you live in western Oregon (or really anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere), I don’t need to tell you summer is finally here! The gorgeous weather here really makes me feel so lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, particularly when I hear about the plight of family members back home in the Midwest dealing with 100+ degree heat and major power outages.
Recently, my husband and I took a quick trip from Portland to the Hood River area to check out some of the local wineries on the Fruit Loop. Definitely a work trip, research related you know. Since I’m almost 8 months pregnant, I got to be the DD, but that was ok because it turned out there were lots of activities other than wine tasting for me to enjoy-not to mention the fabulous views!
Our first stop was at the Gorge White House and Viento tasting room. The Gorge White House features their own pear wine, as well as wines from vineyards all over the Gorge that might not have the most accessible tasting rooms. They also had a couple of beers they brew on site out for tasting, but hubby thought better not to mix the beer and wine this early in the day. After he tasted we went outside and enjoyed some strawberry and flower picking-okay, I enjoyed the fruit and flower picking-at their U-pick garden. I think their blueberries are probably coming in next, then on to pears, apples, and more. After a good amount of time outside, we stopped into Viento, a winery that has a beautiful tasting room on the property as well. The tasting was a little more formal than inside the White House, though both were thoroughly enjoyable as we got to know about their process and hubby tasted their award winning wines.
Hubby was feeling pretty good at this point, so we took the short trip up Highway 35 to Mt. Hood Winery. The clouds had parted just enough to give us a view of Mt. Hood in it’s majestic glory from their spacious, heavily windowed tasting room. Hubby got a taste of 5 or 6 wines for only $5, and there was a wide variety of wines to choose from as well. The Willamette Valley does an amazing job of producing excellent Pinots, but the Gorge must have a slightly different climate as they were able to produce a wide variety of wines, all good according to hubby (we should note here, that his palate may be slightly compromised after tasting about 17 or 18 wines by now).
After filling ourselves at Mt. Hood Winery (hubby with wine, me with fantastic mountain views), we took a shortcut to Pheasant Valley Winery, Hood River’s first certified organic vineyard. The trip took us down a narrow gravel road, and at first I thought I had taken a majorly wrong turn somewhere. Husband was trying his best at navigating, but at this point, he was getting distracted easily. Finally, we arrived at their pretty little site and I’ll tell you this was definitely somewhere different! The atmosphere in the tasting room was a little more relaxed than the tasting rooms we had just experienced, and the place was packed! Hubby got a great extensive tasting, again for only $5, and we thoroughly enjoyed the back and forth banter with the two tasting room associates on staff. We enjoyed his last taste outside at one of their picnic tables, before heading off for our next stop.
Hubby wasn’t as stoked about this one…but hey, I’m on this trip too! After a short drive through the country, we arrived at Lavender Valley Lavender Farm. Their U-Pick wasn’t quite open yet, so we strolled through the gorgeous lavender filled fields and Hubs took a few pics of the dog and me. I bought myself a couple of lavender plants (I’ve got my own urban farm going, and my theory is the more lavender-the more bees, the more bees-the more fruit/veggies) and we headed off for our last stop on the Fruit Loop tour.
We arrived at Cathedral Ridge just as the winery was finishing their set up for a wedding. I have to admit, after seeing the setup, I was a little jealous that we hadn’t done our wedding here – Totally amazing view, quirky sculpture in the yard, beautiful ceremony setup. The tasting room itself was lovely too, with several medals prominently displayed on their award winning wines. The staff here was so pleasant too. Even though I was getting a little tuckered out, I still completely enjoyed myself talking to the tasting room associates and getting to know about their wines. Hubby enjoyed the whites here, but he’s not a reds kind of guy. Cathedral Ridge was definitely one of our favorite stops of the day.
What trip to Hood River would be complete without a trip to a brewery? Since Cathedral Ridge is so close to downtown HR, we decided to stop at Double Mountain Brewery for dinner. The wait was short but the place was packed! It’s definitely a local favorite-the music was bumping and it reminded me of some of my favorite hangouts in college. (In fact, Hood River reminds me a little of my college’s hometown of Athens, Ohio, but that’s another story.) Food was delicious and it was a perfect end to a gorgeous day out in the Gorge (no pun intended).
After all was said and done, we spent only $20 in tasting fees (Hubs bought a bottle at Pheasant Valley, so his tasting fee was refunded) and had a fabulous afternoon out in Hood River. I thoroughly recommend getting out there sometime this summer to experience the views, the wines, and the brews. If there are more than just a couple of you, why not rent an ecoShuttle for the day and let us be your DD?