With over 75% of the vineyards planted in Pinot Noir, it is no wonder that Oregon is known primarily for that grape. But this state is no one-hit wonder. Nowhere is that more true than in the Columbia Gorge where variety is the way of life.
The town of Hood River was incorporated in 1895, growing out of a farming community that began to develop in the middle of the century. Like most of the Columbia Gorge, Hood River is located between two very different climates, a rain forest to the west and a high desert to the east. In this cross section of climates, fruits such as apples, cherries and pears have been grown for over a century. Grapes, too, were planted, but mostly for personal use. The first wineries didn’t spring up on the Oregon side until the early 2000’s .
The Pines 1852 began as a dairy farm with a few grape vines for family use. After planting vineyards throughout the 1980’s, the owner, Lonnie Wright established the winery in 2001. Now, with 20 acres of vineyards in the Columbia Gorge, The Pines 1852 produces several varieties including Pinot Gris, Viognier, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and over-100 year old Zinfandel.
The 2013 Pinot Gris is very clean with pear and apple aromas and very little minerality. The 2012 Viognier, made with grapes from the Dalles, has aromas of apricot, nutmeg, and flowers with a mineral finish. The 2012 Pinot Noir is smooth and tangy with bright fruit flavors of raspberry and cranberry. The grapes are from vineyards in both the gorge and the Dalles. The 2013 Big Red is a blend of 40% Merlot, 20 % Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Zinfandel. It tastes of creamy cherries and oak. The 2012 Merlot has aromas of rich dark cherries. And the Old Vine Zin made with grapes from vines planted in the 1890’s, the oldest vines in the northwest, has deep, spicy dark and red fruit aromas. It is quite rich and elegant.
The Pines 1852 tasting room is in downtown Hood River at 202 Cascade Avenue. Their website is http://www.thepinesvineyard.com/