The 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…

Columbia 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 very small producers have experimented and made wine from locally grown grapes, but it has only been in the last 20 years or so that professional, educated, truly skilled wine making on a large, industrial scale 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 of quality wineries in the area as the expertise and professionalism of these early efforts blossomed, grew, and attracted the attention of vintners and connoisseurs from around the country (though principally from the west coast). Quality wines produced from grapes that have been grown, pressed, aged, and bottled in the Gorge are now almost commonplace.

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, special recognition. After two years of process and paperwork, on May 10, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) approved 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 specific as 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.

So 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 sections of Klickitat and Skamania counties in Washington, and Hood River and Wasco counties in Oregon. The growing climate in the CGVA is wildly varied with 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.


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