Marketed as a “world of wine in 40 miles,” the Columbia Gorge AVA established in 1984, straddles the border between Washington State and Oregon. 50 wineries reside in this wine region with 90 vineyards and over 1,300 vineyard acres planted. Among these vineyards, one finds dramatic transitions in climate terroir ranging from sea level to mountainous altitudes and rainfall bringing 50 inches of rain to the eastern foothills with only 10 inches in the more arid eastern end. This extreme diversity enables culinary travelers the opportunity to sample a surprisingly diverse range of Hood River Wineries within a short distance.
Visitors to this AVA could spend days exploring the mountains and valleys along the historic Columbia River Highway. A day trip from Portland to Hood River, Oregon can provide one with an ample taste of this region’s bounty that is easily accessible on foot. This compact town situated at the confluence of the Hood River and the Columbia River provides tourists with the ability to sample locally sourced offerings from wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
Hood River Wineries Tour on Foot
As the tasting rooms don’t open until noon, start the day off with a stroll around the town. Take in the array of art galleries and local shopping. Consider taking a walk along Hood River Waterfront Park to capture some picture-perfect shots of the Columbia River.
Those not looking for a sit-down lunch at one of Hood River’s many restaurants can stop by Boda’s Kitchen on Oak Street and pick up gourmet deli offerings for a picnic lunch. Their lemon-herb rotisserie chicken accompanied by a Northwest salad made with Oregon and dried Oregon makes for a hearty meal or grab an Asian salad wrap with house peanut sauce for lighter fare.
Hood River Tasting Rooms
When the tasting rooms open at noon, first stop by Stave & Stone’s tasting room located just a few blocks from Boda’s Kitchen. The dark woodsy interior serves a perfect compliment to their full-bodied boutique wines. In particular, check out their Pinot Noir Rosé made in the old-world style from their estate Pinot Noir grapes.
Then stroll over to The Pines 1852 for a tour of the art dotting the walls followed by a tasting of their limited-production, boutique wines such as their Old Vine Zinfandel 2017. This wine came from a vineyard planted by an Italian stonemason in the late 1800s and is one of the oldest vineyards in the Northwest.
Other tasting rooms in Hood River within walking distance include Cascade Cliffs, Cerulean Winery, Stella Fino, and Upside Down Wine.
Best Way to Travel to Hood River
Travelers from Portland who would like to their cars at home can now visit Hood River car-free courtesy of the Columbia Gorge Express. During the summer, daily service is available from Portland’s Gateway Transit Center with more limited service available for the rest of the year.
Car-free travelers looking to tour around the surrounding area can check out a range of transportation options including touring companies, taxis, and car rentals. For example, pack a picnic and take a short ten-minute drive over to Wy’East Vineyards’ tasting room. In particular, be sure to check out their Chardonnay while relaxing in their well-manicured meditative garden.
More of the Wines of Hood River
For another option, Mt. Hood Winery offers an array of award-winning wines and secluded views of their vineyard surrounded by mountains. Also, Phelps Creek Winery’s intimate tasting room located on the Hood River Golf Course allows one to sample deep-bodied reds while enjoying a picnic lunch on their patio featuring unobstructed views of Mt. Hood.
During harvest season, consider exploring the twenty-nine member stands along the Hood River County Fruit Loop located at Hood River Valley. Here one can find a variety of wines, ciders, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and food, along with a number of wineries open throughout the year.
Before setting out to explore the town of Hood River and the surrounding environs, be sure to visit the websites of the individual wineries and tasting rooms for their current hours of operation. For more information about touring the Columbia Gorge AVA, download touring guides from the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association and the Oregon Wine Board. Additional information about exploring Hood River can be found here.
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