The moderate climate in the Hood River Valley favors production of cool-weather grapes such as pinot noir and pinot gris, while just across the Columbia River near Bingen and Lyle in Washington the microclimate makes possible heavier reds such as Syrah and whites such as viognier.
There are five wineries on the Oregon side (and roughly twice that number across the river in Washington), all open daily for tasting May–October (call to confirm opening times during the winter) and all easily found by using the readily available Columbia Gorge Wine map (www.columbiagorgewine.com).
In the Hood River area, Quenett Winery (111 Oak St., 541/386-2229, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) has a tasting room right in Hood River.
Cathedral Ridge Winery (4200 Post Canyon Rd., 541/386-2882, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is just west of town near the golf course.
The valley’s oldest winery, dating to 1981, is Hood River Vineyard (4693 Westwood Dr., 541/386-7772, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily Mar.–Oct.). The microclimate at this winery is similar to that which produces Germany’s Rhine wines. In addition to the Rieslings, chardonnays, gewürztraminers, and other white-wine varietals produced here, the area is famous for award-winning pinot noir and fruit wines such as Anjou pear, marionberry, and zinfandel, which are frequently delicious.
Probably the oldest vineyard in Oregon—a plot of century-old zinfandel planted by an Italian stone mason near The Dalles—forms the foundation for the best wines at The Pines 1852 (202 W. State St., 541/993-8301, www.thepinesvineyard.com, noon–9 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., noon–6 p.m. Sun.–Mon. and Wed.). Rhone-style wines and an ice wine are other sure bets. Although the historic vineyards are near The Dalles, the tasting room is in Hood River.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel