The Holidays Are Upon Us

The Holiday Season is a perfect time to spend with special friends and family. Sparkling wines add a festive air to any Holiday celebration. We are fortunate to have several wonderful northwest sparkling wines available for our sipping pleasure. A few Gorge Wineries have released very limited quantities of Gorge bubbly. Rich Cushman at Viento has just released a lovely Brut Rose handmade right here in the Hood River Valley. Syncline in Lyle has also produced a small amount of a dry sparkler as well. Keep a sharp eye out as they are both extremely limited. Outside of the Gorge, the Northwest offer some inexpensive high quality options, too. Try the Domaine Ste Michelle Brut from Washington or Argyle Brut from Oregon.

Sparkling wine is very food friendly. Try it with appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms, cheeses such as gouda or sharp cheddar or as a perfect partner to shellfish. It is wonderful as a dinner wine, too. My favorite way to enjoy a glass of bubbly is by the fire with special someone. Happy Holidays & Cheers!
~Jan at the Hood River Inn

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Harvest Update from Mt. Hood Winery

The grape harvest, as with all the pears and apples in the Hood River
Valley, will be affected by the late spring, and cool summer weather. Right
now, we are later than last year, which was a record for lateness. The grape
growers are doing all they can to help the grapes mature. We have done shoot
thinning, leaf pulling, cluster thinning, nutrient sprays, silver mylar film
on the ground to reflect more sunlight into the vines; anything we can think
of to help. The warmer September helped. The unfortunate problem is that
fall, and the fall freezes and rains, seem to come on time in mid October.
So our growing season gets shortened on the finishing end. Just like the
tomatoes ripened late if at all, so it is with the grapes. We have measured
some sugars, and will be receiving a few grapes by the 10th of October. But
we will be making wine!!  Cheers!

Steve Bickford

Mt.Hood Winery

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Fall is upon us…

Fall is upon us in downtown Hood River…That means crisp fall days
and…..harvest.  I cannot tell you what a joy September and October are in
Hood River. We are awash in abundance, from fruit (especially lovely into
the fall because of the late, long summer) To Salmon (everything is in the
river at the moment! Incredible fish, delivered to our doorstep!) Crabs from
the coast, Forage, (Chanterelles, Matsusakes, Lobsters and Porcini in
massive quantities) and the last cut of products from our small farm
vendors…… It’s just incredible.

The fact that Grape harvest is part of it all, and that the vineyard owners
are in the restaurants, releasing their next year’s vintages, only makes it
that much better!  I can honestly, say, and my partners share this feeling,
That Fall is the single best season of the year, hands down.

It has been a fantastic year for Celilo Restaurant, and as we gear up for
next spring, after a quiet winter of hibernation and renewal, we are already
counting the days until we can start to work with our products
again…..Fall is the conucopia, but Spring, well Spring is the heady elixir
that draws us in and gets us ready for a new year!. When you come visit us
in the Spring, we promise to you that we’ll have so many heady elixirs from
the winter before. The care in this area that goes into our grapes….Well,
I can tell you first hand, that it is first rate. You’ll taste it in the
Springtime when it comes time for us to celebrate Wine and Pears in Hood

~Maui Meyer

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Pear Harvest in Hood River Valley

Well it is harvest time in the Hood River Valley, for PEARS, the State Fruit of Oregon.  We live in one of the most stunning places in the whole country, where agriculture and tourism play an important role in our economy.  The inclimate weather this year has given many challenges to the agriculture community.  Because of the early cold last november, and warm january, and back to cold february, pear crops in the upper Hood River Valley have been affected.  Not to mention the hail storm of a few months back.  Overall, pear production in our valley is actually increased over last year, but is running about 2 1/2 weeks later than last.  Going into October, we are hoping for a dry harvest season, as i am sure the wine grape growers are too.  But I guess that is part of the challenges that growers face every year. The Pear/Wine Festival in May is a super way to promote the wonderful bounties that are created right here in our valley.  What better way to end the day but with fresh anjou, comice or bosc pears, combined with a tasty glass of pinot gris.  I love waking up every morning to the beauty of Mt. Hood, and knowing that pears and wine will be enjoyed across the country and have been nurtured and grown in the beautiful Hood RIver Valley.  GOrdy Sato, Parkdale Orchardist

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Summer Wine…

Thinking of an old Nancy Sinatra/Lee Greenwood tune this season….take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time…..oh, oh… Summer Wine…..we have had some excellent choices this year… Rich Cushman’s Verona, which masterfully blends the best of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, Saignee of Pinot Noir from Mt Hood Winery, and of course one of the best in our area, James Mantone’s Syncline produced-crisp, dry, Rose with more variety than one would find at a Greg Colt impromptu party.

I am seriously trying to like Gruner Veltliner but after one glass I just can’t pronounce it; however, I suspect we will see more of it since more vineyards are growing it.  With a name like Pate I am driven to the Chardonnay grape, and nobody does it better than Cathedral Ridge with their Reserve that they would describe as Creamy and Buttery..even though I would add “Oaky”, as one would expect from Michael Sebastiani.  If you don’t like the oak you may want to pay Bob Morus a visit; he has an excellent unoaked Chardonnay over at Phelps Creek Winery.  If your tastes go more toward the Alsatian style I would recommend Cool Hand Luke Bradford’s ( COR Cellars) Dry Reisling.  The Italians are also well represented by Franco Marchesi and his Pinot Grigio…the newlywed also has done a marvelous job marketing and expanding the Marchesi tasting room.  It’s funny how much better he looks with Sandy at his side.

Don’t Think..Just Drink!! Is it the Cerulean Nebula from Star Wars, or Lando Cerulean?  In any event, it has been nice to see Pat Graham enjoying First Fridays at the tasting room…nice spot to listen to the music and enjoy a glass of wine…and how wonderful to have our own Lonnie Wright (The Pines)receive the well-deserved “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Oregon Wine Industry.  I know he is revered for his Zinfandel but, I so enjoy a glass of his Viogner on a warm summer afternoon while monitoring the flow of the Columbia River from the back deck.

New VinNews…Brad Gearhart (Jacob Williams) is taking both Jacob and William to an Avery tasting room..unbelievable views Brad!  Did I see Rich Cushman and wife, Robin breaking ground on the new Viento tasting room on Country Club….I am told it will be open in November..FINALLY! Any discussion on Venues would be incomplete without mentioning Springhouse Cellars and the RUINS!  Wow!  Wine, Food, Music and Dancing…great job James!  I attended a recent meeting in The Dalles at Sunshine Mill…another venue that just gets better and better..another “James” doing a great job……  But watch out for those SHARKS!  I know I have focused on whites and Roses…however, the new release Quenett Barbera is off the charts!!

Two final notes:  Marketing efforts have had a huge impact on bringing outsiders to the Gorge AVA; special recognition to those who do an exceptional job in promoting Gorge Wines…Naked, Marchesi, and Cathedral Ridge…not to mention the local Restaurants that feature local wines:  Nora’s, Nolan’s Pourhouse, Riverside, Three Rivers, Stonehedge, and Celilo………….and FINALLY, a word about pairings, where everybody has an opinion on what should accompany the “Summer” wines I have mentioned.  IN MY OPINION, a nice glass and a good friend are all you need for the perfect pairing!!  Okole Maluna!

James Pate
Lakecliff B&B

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Welcome to the Columbia Gorge Wine & Pear Fest Blog

It is always amazing what resources we have in our own back yard.  I had driven past the WAAAM (Western Antiques Aero and Auto Museum) in Hood River hundreds of times and always said to myself that I would check it out someday.

Well someday finally came when I went out to the Columbia Gorge Wine and Pear Fest. There were 23 local wineries, 5 local restaurants, 15 local artists and enjoyable entertainment for the whole weekend.   With free entrance to WAAAM Museum being included in the price  what a wonderful day we spent.

Being a Pinot Noir lover I was very happy checking out all the new offerings from the Gorge based wineries.  With my admission I received a very nice wine glass with the event logo along with tokens for tastings from any winery or wineries I chose.  Lots of choices but I did buy some Mt. Hood Winery Pinot Noir and found some other great wines that I had to have including a Jacob Williams Cabernet Sauvignon and a Pinot Gris from Wy’East Vineyards that never made it to the cellar.

I wanted to say something about the Museum also.  I am not a pilot and probably don’t appreciate the amount of old airplanes the way someone who flys would, but what a presentation of every type of plane that you ever dreamed of.  The part that brought back the memories to me was the auto exhibit.  All my dream cars from back in the 60’s and 70’s along with the real antiques that we only see in museums these days were there.

Make a point of joining me May 19th- 20th in Hood River for the repeat of a great time.


Neal Price

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