Did you know that Hood River is only an hour from the city? A quick waterfall-filled drive through the Gorge offers Portlanders a breezy weekend getaway for wine and beer lovers alike. With great wineries, local breweries, quaint bed and breakfast inns and gorgeous views of the Columbia River at practically every turn, you’re sure to enjoy a weekend of fun-filled memories.
Double Mountain Brewery, a locals’ favorite, is located in the heart of downtown and is as well known in Hood River for their gourmet pizzas as they are for their beer brewed on-site. They’re in the midst of an expansion project that will increase the Taproom by 1500 sq feet and the beer production area by 3500 sq feet. This will allow for a new bottling line and automated keg line since Double Mountain has outgrown their original space of the last five years. Suggested summer brews are the Double Mountain Kolsch and Peche Mode, a seasonal Belgian-style ale made with peaches. Pizzas with unusual and creative toppings alongside beer brewed with love. No one can doubt that this is a match made in heaven.
Just a couple short blocks away is the Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub. Watching the bottling line through the windows from the street is a bit like watching Laverne & Shirley reruns. With a big deck that hovers about Hood River’s industrial zone, the views of the Columbia River and surrounding mountains are an excellent way to end an evening– beer in hand, of course. Suggested seasonal summer brews here are the Full Sail LTD 03, a crisp pale-colored pilsner-style lager and the LTD 05, a copper-colored amber ale with Czech Saaz hops.
Make your reservations early for a room with a river view at the Villa Columbia Bed and Breakfast, owned by Boba and VJ Jovanovic. The home was built 100 years ago and has been tastefully updated with all the modern amenities you expect while on vacation. All the rooms have fireplaces, TVs, plush robes and jetted tubs to help melt away your stress so you can relax during your visit. From the Columbia River room, you can see river and mountain views from every window, including the one above the tub. Breakfast is a 3-course meal and dietary restrictions are easily accommodated so you won’t leave hungry. Centrally located on the edge of downtown, you’ll walk by beautiful older homes on your way to the shops, restaurants, breweries and wine tasting rooms. The Villa Columbia is a great home away from home.
At the other end of downtown Hood River, a 10-minute stroll, you’ll find Springhouse Cellars. All their wine is made on-site from grapes grown no further away than a three-hour drive. With a unique tap system, your wine tastes pour from spigots behind the bar. Springhouse Cellars believes in being eco-friendly and offers a refillable 1 liter “growlier” to reduce the wine bottles in your weekly recycling bin. Not only do you reduce your carbon footprint by using a growlier, you get an additional 250ml for free.
Springhouse Cellars only makes 2000 cases annually under their label but winemaker Carey Kienitz produces another 2000 cases for neighboring Gorge wineries as well. With a versatile interior space and newly remodeled and expanded bathrooms, the winery can host events of most shapes and sizes. Their outdoor space, lovingly referred to as the ruins, is one-of-a-kind and often the site of summer wine events, concerts and weddings. In the fall, it doubles as the crush pad for incoming fruit after it’s been harvested, on its way to the processing area of the winery.
2010 Sangiovese Columbia Valley $22
Seven Hills Vineyard in Milton-Freewater
Very light, feminine, cherry notes, no new oak allows the fruit to shine, and with subtle tannins, this wine is food friendly. Better paired with lighter foods as a burger could overwhelm the softer flavors in this wine.
2008 Reserve Merlot Columbia Gorge $25
Columbia View Orchard Vineyard in Mosier and High Valley Vineyard in The Dalles
Not a fruit bomb! Some new and some neutral French oak combined with the wine to create notes of red licorice and brambles with raspberries and a nutty finish. This merlot offers much more than most and may be the reason it’s almost sold out.
Before heading back to Portland, take a quick detour south down Hwy 35, along the “fruit loop,” nicknamed for the rich diversity and abundance of fruit grown nearby. Many fruit stands line the road and are beginning to fill up with the bounty of the region. Stop and grab a healthy snack to enjoy at Mt. Hood Winery, with a glass of wine and million dollar views from their large patio or inside at a bistro table. The winery’s stunning tasting room with a large fireplace and fun fish-art are the perfect complement to their wines. The wall of windows facing Mt. Hood reveals an ever-changing mountainscape, depending on the weather and time of year you visit.
Summit Red Table Wine $19
80% Pinot noir, 10% Tempranillo, 10% Syrah
Elegant, yet bold, all at the same time. By combining grapes from both the Columbia Gorge and the Columbia Valley, this wine is a good representation of the flavors of the area. This is a great BBQ wine for a summer evening.
2011 Pinot Noir Rosé Columbia Gorge $16
A semi-dry rosé with just a touch of residual sugar to round out the mouthfeel, this wine will pair beautifully with a warm summer afternoon. Strawberry and melon flavors can reduce the heat of spicy dishes or enhance the lighter fare you eat during hot weather.
So throw off the shackles of the city and make a dash out to Hood River to enjoy the gorge-ous views, wine and beer for a weekend. You’re guaranteed to find peace and tranquility alongside locally made wines and beers. Hood River, a modern mecca, has everything you need for a summer weekend getaway without spending hours in the car.