In 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.
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 www.mthoodwinery.com