Prior to our trip to Oregon, neither of us had been to the Columbia River Gorge, so we decided to spend a full day exploring Hood River and Mount Hood. Whenever we travel, I always try to research the area to see what the cool things are to do and what makes it unique… I had no idea that Hood River, Oregon was a world class wind surfing area! We also didn’t know that Hood River has a nice cluster of wineries that surround the town with several tasting rooms right in town.
We started the day out by driving up to Mt Hood, which is an awesome drive up the mountain side from Hood River. Along the way you pass about a dozen wineries, and even more fruit farms. We just happen to pick a day that it was snowing on the mountain, so about ¾ of the way up, we hit some pretty heavy snow (we have mountains in Pennsylvania, but seeing a 25 degree drop in temperature from the bottom to the top was pretty crazy). Even if you are not into skiing, it is absolutely worth the trip up the mountain to see Timberline Lodge. It’s a really cool, and historic lodge that is actually tied to the movie The Shining (if you remember that movie, do a quick Google search about it). After exploring the lodge, we had to get back on the road to do what we came to do… some wine tasting!
timberline lodge at the top of mt. hood
Coming back down the mountain, we stopped at a couple of places before grabbing lunch – Wy’East Vineyards, Pheasant Valley, and Mt Hood Winery. They all had some outstanding wines, but the one that stood out the most for me was at Mt Hood Winery. It was a pear wine, which we had never had before. We were expecting it to be sweet, but it was a really nice wine that wasn’t sweet or dry and was very refreshing (something you could really envision drinking with a group of friends on a summer day).
After a couple of stops, we headed into town for lunch and to try to stop at one or two more wineries before heading to our next hotel in Willamette Valley. After grabbing something to eat, we headed to Naked Winery right downtown, which may have been the highlight of our trip. Part of what we enjoy about wine tasting is meeting the owners, hearing their stories, and taking in the unique atmosphere that each winery has to offer… well, Naked Winery excelled at all of them. First of all, the place was PACKED! They had a piano player, three tasting rooms full of people, and everyone was having a great time. They did an outstanding job in terms of marketing, creating a brand, and making it fun… from the décor of the tasting room, down to the names of the wines. After a couple of minutes, Dave who is one of the owners, came over with two reserve wines that he was pouring besides the regular tastings that they were offering (huge plus in our book). He took the time to talk to us about each wine, how he got started, and where his passion for wine came from. Before we knew it, we had been there WAY longer than we had planned, but yet didn’t want to leave. Some of our best stories/memories from going wine tasting are from meeting people like Dave, who was down to earth, loved to share his story, and really enjoyed making wine tasting fun. Oh, yeah… and the wines were GREAT! We liked them so much we had several bottles shipped back to us so that we didn’t have to carry them.
Naked Winery in Hood River, OR
If you are going to Hood River, the Columbia River Gorge, or Mt. Hood, we HIGHLY recommend stopping in Naked Winery and see for yourself what Dave and his team are up to. The one place that we really wanted to make it and didn’t, is Marchesi Winery which is also right in Hood River. We heard some GREAT things about this winery as well, but simply ran out of time before we had to head towards Willamette Valley.
Here are some of our other recommendations if you are planning a trip:
Where to Eat
Double Mountain Brewery – The Portland area is known for having a HUGE number of breweries, but we would drive out to Hood River again just to go to Double Mountain. We love beer almost as much as we love wine, so we definitely had to try their hand-crafted beers. Awesome! On top of that, the food was really good as well. They make pizzas and some other creative sandwiches which were really good. On top of the great food, and great beer, the atmosphere was also great. It was busy but not over crowded, and everyone was super friendly.
Where to stay
When trying to find somewhere to stay, we always try to find somewhere that is unique or has character. We ended up staying in North Bonneville at the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort. The lobby has a massive fireplace where everyone was sitting around enjoying the fire. As you might guess by the name, the resort has natural hot springs in the pool (which we didn’t try). The other unique thing about the resort is that you can get a room with a private hot tub on each balcony. This was perfect after a day of driving and wine tasting!
To read more about our trip, what wineries we visited, and what our reviews were, head over to http://www.winetrailadventures.com and create an account. You can friend us and see all of our wine reviews. You can also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/winetrailadventures