Columbia Gorge has an incredible range of
both white and red wines. The Oak Street Hotel has a supply
of a few of the choice wines from grapes grown in the Gorge.
These fine wines are available
by the bottle or in an unusual gift container paired with smoked
salmon or chocolates. Featured wines available for sale.
Read more about a recent Appellation formed in
the area from Gorge Living magazine by Eric Shetterly…
River Gorge Winemakers Viticulture Area Designation.
Wine making in the Columbia River
Gorge as a true agricultural activity has been going on for
a couple of decades. To be sure, for many years individuals and
producers have experimented and made wine from locally grown
grapes, but it has only been in the last 20 years or so that
educated, truly skilled wine making on a large, industrial
has become established in the region.
But this development was fragmented: a winery
here and a vineyard there. The last decade has seen an explosion
in the number of
acres planted to a wide variety of wine grapes and the number
wineries in the area as the expertise and professionalism of
these early efforts blossomed, grew, and attracted the attention
and connoisseurs from around the country (though principally
from the west coast). Quality wines produced from grapes that
grown, pressed, aged, and bottled in the Gorge are now almost
Several years ago, industry leaders began talking about the establishment
of a designation...a formal regional appellation...that would
give wine produced from grapes grown in the Gorge a distinctive,
recognition. After two years of process and paperwork, on May
10, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
and the Columbia Gorge Viticulture Area (CGVA) was formally
placed on the Federal Register.
What is an “appellation?” Essentially, an American Viticulture
Area (AVA) is a loose demarcation used by the U.S. Government to
define specific wine areas within the United States. It has absolutely
no bearing on quality (unlike the highly controlled “Appellation
d’Origine Controlee” or AOC, regions in France), but
rather simply ensures that a wine does, in fact, come from a particular
AVA. There are about 124 appellations in the United States.
An AVA is a road map to the source. That place, ideally printed
on the label, can be as vast as a country or as small and
a single vineyard.. For example, an appellation “Napa Valley” means
that the fruit was grown in the Napa Valley of California. But, change
that designation to “Stags Leap District,” and that indicates
that the grapes were grown not just anywhere in the Napa Valley,
but specifically in that designated loamy vale.
what’s the big deal about specific locations anyway? It’s
all about the soil, or the place where the grapes were
grown. The French call it terroir (ter-wahr). Not quite translatable, it pertains
to the unique qualities of a specific region. Terroir imparts the
sense of specific flavors and aroma of a wine. Grapes are extremely
sensitive to their environment. The composition of the soil, elevation,
slope of the land, weather, and sun all add character. Quite simply,
terroir connotes any and all the factors that influence a specific
plot of land. The appellation delineates and names this precise plot.
The Columbia Gorge Viticulture Area (CGVA) covers some
280 square miles in the Columbia River Gorge, including
and Skamania counties in Washington, and Hood River
and Wasco counties in Oregon. The growing climate in the
CGVA is wildly
many microclimates, some more conducive to white and
sweeter wines while some produce outstanding reds.
With this “milestone” designation,
vineyard owners, vintners and the entire panoply of people and industries
associated with wine production and sales in the Columbia River Gorge
anticipate that appreciation of and demand for wines produced in
the CGVA will continue to grow. Look for wines with the Columbia
Gorge Vitaculture Area designation on their labels. It’s your
assurance that the wine you buy is not only from the Gorge, but that
it’s a true quality product, right up there with the finest
the world has to offer.