After not finishing up the Hood River area of the Columbia Gorge on day 1 and a ton of debate, I decided to return to visit the vineyards and valleys of the area. Antonio and his girlfriend joined me on this day and it was a lot of fun. This was also Antonio’s first taste of wine ever, which surprised myself and the vineyards haha 🙂
Cathedral Ridge Winery – Oregon Winery of the Year
Our first stop of the day was Cathedral Ridge Winery, a beautiful winery in Hood River. We walked into the packed tasting room filled with samples of great pies for the holidays. All of the wines were great and the staff was really friendly. There was one interesting thing that happened at the winery. One of the staff was eagerly anticipating the birth of his new baby. I kind of felt bad for him because he was a nervous wreck, but excited for him at the same time. Although I had to limit my purchases to just one, I would’ve left with a lot more. There was one that caught my eye because of its uniqueness:
Cathedral Ridge Winery 2008 Halbtrocken (Columbia Valley)
Meaning “half-dry” in German, this wine is semi-sweet, floral and aromatic with hints of a dry finish. As a wine maker’s secret red-white blend, it has been tantalizing wine drinkers for years.
On our way to the next winery….
Antonio found some new friends strolling down the road:
These miniature horses were the surprise of the trip. We talked with the owner for a little bit and she noted that she has been raising these little guys over the years. These friendly creatures were a sight to see on our way to ….
This cozy tasting room was warm and inviting. When we walked in, there were several folks enjoying glasses of wine. The one staff person, Nicole, was very friendly and is also the assistant winemaker for our final destination of the trip. The winemaker for Marchesi favors the Italian style of wine making and it showed in his wines. Although they only make 5 wines, they were good overall. Here are the two I walked away with:
Marchesi Vineyards 2008 Anjola, Pinot Grigio (Columbia Valley)
Note: This is the only Pinot Grigio I currently have in my cellar
We named this wine Anjola, after Franco’s grandmother Angela who lived in Piemonte all her life. Since 2007 we can call our wine Pinot Grigio, before then it was called Pinot Gris, we found the Grigio more suitable for our style of wine. We first planted our vines, Pinot Grigio VCR 5 on 3309 rootstock In the spring of 2004, we had our first commercial vintage in 2008. Our Pinot Grigio has wonderful aromas of pears, lemons and a touch of anice, good mouth feel with crispy acidity. This wine can be served as an aperitif, seafood dishes, roasted chicken most white meats, goes well with aged cheeses too. Enjoy chilled but not too cold.
Marchesi Vineyards 2007 Giuseppe, Pinor Noir (Columbia Gorge)
We named our Pinot Noir Giuseppe, because in Italian the nick name for Giuseppe is Pino. The Pinot Noir grapes where the last grapes to be planted at the south end of our property at the end of April 2008. We sourced grapes for our 2007 and 2008 vintage from growers we know well and can count on the best fruit from the wonderful Hood River area. Half of the fruits came from Wy’East Vineyards and the other half from lower altitudes of Mount Underwood on the opposite side of the Columbia river, right in the middle of the Columbia Gorge. Our 2007 Pinot Noir has a pale robe, aromas of mushrooms and earth with a violet note, quite light but silky on the palate, dark cherry fruit, strawberries and a touch of sweetness on the finish. Most enjoyable with roasted salmon or chicken alla cacciatora.
On the suggestion from the assistant wine maker we met at Marchesi, we decided to take a trip to Wy’East. I can’t thank Nicole enough for the suggestion. The journey took us down some windy hills to the valley area. The views were incredible and definitely will be a sight to see in the spring and summer months. When we arrived at the winery, we were greeted by the dogs of the winery. Inside we met Christie Reed, one of the owners of the winery. She told us stories about the area and their wines which made our visit very enjoyable. This winery features 7 wines and they are all very good. While I would’ve taken all of these wines home, I had to settle for two:
Wy’East Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay (Columbia Gorge)
Our Chardonnay carries only a hint of oak barrel aging, the fruit is so delicious we didn’t want to mask it. Bright citrus and pineapple flavors make this Columbia Gorge treat an excellent choice for casual sipping. This is the Chardonnay for people who are tired of overly processed, mass produced flavorless Chards.
Wy’East Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris (Columbia Gorge)
This luscious Pinot Gris is sourced from our own vineyards in the Hood River Valley. Rich tropical flavors are balanced with good acidity, yielding a rich, mouth-filling finish. It is the perfect summer cooler for the patio, and is tasty paired with crab or pears and cheese. Cheers! PLATIUM award winner @ NW Wine & Food Festival, Nov 2009