Columbia Valley Gorge Wines; Small Production, Big Variety

Oregon, April, 2015 049In the 1980’s and 1990’s the Columbia Valley Gorge was just beginning to be planted with vineyards. The grapes of those vineyards were used in other regions to be made into wine. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that wineries began to appear in the gorge. Today there are 17 wineries on the Oregon side producing wines from a variety of grapes including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Grenache, Syrah and Zinfandel to name a few. They are small production wineries, making under 10000 cases annually. Many of the wines from this region are only available in Oregon and Washington shops and restaurants and through the wineries’ websites. It is both the exclusivity of the wines and the newness of the region that make the Columbia Gorge such an exciting area to explore.

Founded in 2004, Mt. Hood Winery is situated within view of its namesake mountain, the snow-cap a stunning contrast to the green vineyards. Owned by the Bickford family their production is a modest 2500 cases annually overseen by Rich Cushman who is also the winemaker and owner of Viento Winery.Mt. Hood Winery Pinot Noir

The 2014 Estate Dry Riesling is light and crisp with fruit, floral and citrus aromas. The 2014 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé has aromas of sweet and tangy strawberries with an earthy finish. The 2013 Estate Pinot Noir has spice and red fruit aromas with undertones of mushroom. The 2012 Zinfandel, aged in French oak, has aromas of dark cherries and coffee. The 2012 Barbera is tangy red fruit, dark cherries and anise. The Summit Red is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir, 10% Tempranillo and 10% Syrah. The aromas are dark fruit and spice. The 2010 Syrah has smoky blackberry and leather aromas.

Mt. Hood Winery is located at 2882 Van Horn Drive in Hood River, Oregon. Their website is


4 comments on “Columbia Valley Gorge Wines; Small Production, Big Variety

  1. It’s so funny how sizes are different between the US and other parts of the world: “small producers” making “less than 10,000 cases a year”….that’s under 120,000 bottles, which is still pretty big in my book. A “small producer” in my head makes between 20,000 and 30,000 bottles a year. 🙂

    It’s awesome to see you exploring Oregon! You sure have an awesome reason to go visit…:)

  2. I love red wines, especially Syrah. In some horrible twist of fate, I have developed a red wine allergy!! I’m finding some relief in drinking small amounts of Pinot Noirs. I’ll be sure to check this one out (if I can find it). ;o)

    • foxress says:

      That is a horrible twist of fate. I hope you don’t have to give up the Reds altogether!

      • Every now and then, I cave, buy a bottle of my fave Amarone and indulge…and suffer the consequences. LOL! The head-to-toe hives are no fun, but come on! A life with no red wine is no life at all! Haha! Through this allergy though, I’ve discovered some fabulous dry rosés and unoaked Chardonnays. Every cloud, right? LOL! #silverlining

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