Fall is by far my favorite time of year. The crisp air with a tinge of wood smoke, blue skies, stunningly colorful leaves, harvesting of apples and pumpkins, and of course, the crushing of wine grapes.
There is no better place to experience the colors and tastes of fall than the Columbia River Gorge. Hood River, Oregon, is just one hour east of Portland and is the full fall experience — wineries, fruit stands, pumpkin patches, and more.
The Willamette Valley often overshadows this picturesque region. But with rolling hills, access to Oregon’s famed Mt. Hood, and stellar wind surfing along the Columbia River, it’s the perfect place for wine!
The fertile valley has been home to rich agricultural production for generations. Its varied terrain creates different grape-growing regions, from low-lying warm sites that produce intense reds to high-altitude sites that produce light and bright whites.
1120 State Road, Mosier, OR 97040
On the eastern edge of the Gorge is Analemma Wines in tiny Mosier, Oregon. To winemakers Steve Thompson and Kris Fade, the analemma is a symbol that reflects their focus on place. After all, everywhere on Earth has its own unique analemma – a kind of place-based fingerprint. Having wandered as far afield as New Zealand to make wine before coming home to Oregon, Steve and Kris often say that they’re inspired by the power of wine to showcase the land, the water, and the climate in each site they farm. Launched in 2010, Analemma Wines may be a relatively new winery, but the wines come from the historic Atavus and Oakridge Vineyards – as well as a new vineyard planted at one of the highest elevation sites in the Columbia Gorge.
Mt. Hood Winery
2882 Van Horn Dr., Hood River, OR 97031
“Come for the wine, stay for the views” is the motto at Mt. Hood Winery. Step into the tasting room and you’ll see why. You’ll also know why Northwest Wine Press voted it best Oregon winery in 2016. Building upon five generations of fruit growers in the Bickford family, brothers Steve and Don Bickford opened the winery and tasting room in 2009, exactly 100 years after the founding of the farm. The variety of wines offered in Mt. Hood’s wine tasting showcases the full range of the Columbia Gorge region.
3189 Highway 35, Hood River, OR 97031
A few miles up the road from Mt. Hood Winery is Wy’East Vineyards. Its beautiful tasting room overlooks gorgeous fields and hills, and with multiple places to sit outside, it is the ideal place to enjoy a picnic lunch or one of the prepared snack plates and play a game of bocce ball. Wy’East is truly a family-run operation – owners Christie and Dick Reed have been joined by their eldest daughter Keely and her husband to help run the vineyard and winery operation. Make sure you try the pinot noirs – so strikingly different than those made in the Willamette Valley!
The Pines 1852 Vineyard and Winery
202 Cascade Avenue, Suite B, 2nd St, Hood River, OR 97031
Back in the heart of Hood River is The Pines 1852 Vineyard and Winery. Considered the father of Columbia Gorge wines, owner Lonnie Wright commands respect from the Willamette-centric industry. Just one of a handful of Oregonians awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oregon Wine Board, Lonnie has been a mentor and a champion for winemakers and vineyard managers throughout the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area (AVA). His vineyard was first planted sometime in the 1890s by an Italian stonemason named Louis Comini, whose Old Vine Zinfandel vines are now the oldest surviving vines in Oregon and are the pride of Wright’s winery. Even his 25-year-old “Young Vine” Zinfandel vines – grown from transplanted cuttings off the old vines – are now more mature than many vines in Oregon.
Hood Crest Winery
1908 Orchard Rd, Hood River, OR 97031
At Hood Crest Winery just outside of town, you’ll come for the excellent wine but stay for the stunning views and the best wood-fired pizzas around! At Hood Crest, you’re just as likely to hear winemaker Tess Barr jamming with her eponymous blues band as you are to taste her wines. After all, her recording studio and record label are right there on the property. On a weekend when the Tess Barr Band is jammin’, you’ll get an unparalleled experience – gorgeous views of Mt. Hood, rockin’ music, hot pizza straight from the oven, and stellar wines.
"Fall Favorites for Northwest Wine Tasting in the Columbia Gorge" originally published on The Menuism Dining Blog.