Cathedral Ridge Winery’s tasting staff loves having a location in the Columbia Gorge (our other tasting room is located in Dundee). Part of the draw to the location includes the hikes in the Columbia Gorge, it’s a great way to kick off a summer weekend and the only thing that could make it better is a wine perfectly paired with your special hike:
Hike & Taste in the Vineyard
The Columbia Gorge is designed for outdoor and wine enthusiasts. For a fun, easy hike start simple with walking the grounds at the winery. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather and picnic seats await after your visit to the tasting room. Once you’ve heard about the beautiful and historic wine region that is the Columbia River Gorge, take in the stunning scenery featuring a dramatic climate shift from the temperate rainforest of Cascade Locks to the high desert at The Dalles, all occurring in about 50 miles. This unique growing region allows us to embrace a trinity of different growing region varietals including grapes from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace. Along with the microclimates is a unique and constantly changing terroir. Prehistoric lava flows, repeated cataclysmic floods and glaciers have carved the bones of the Columbia River Gorge into the breathtaking scenery you see today. Using the highest quality fruit grown from one of the most unique growing regions in the world, enjoy your hike with our distinctive wines like our Dampier Pinot Noir.
Hike & Taste at Dog Mountain
Order or drop by to pick up an elegant Picnic Pairing Pack and enjoy the stunning views and unparalleled springtime flowers at Dog Mountain, noted as one of the most popular hikes in the Gorge. On a good day, you can get a bird’s eye view of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River. In the spring the top is carpeted with vibrant yellow balsam root. Although the trail is steep and sometimes crowded, this hike is unquestionably worth the effort. Get the full hike description here.
Hike & Taste with the Family
The Columbia Gorge is the perfect place to introduce kids to the joys of hiking. The Mosier Plateau hike features beautiful views in a short three-mile trail. With just a few switchbacks you’ll get to see Mosier Creek falls and gorgeous wildflowers and canyons and maybe even a bald eagle. Learn more about this hike.
Bring a picnic wine pack for you and local organic juices from Ryan’s Juices for the kids.
Hike & Taste with your Honey
Romantic hiking in the Columbia Gorge isn’t complete without an outing to Catherine Creek. Take in the scenery of open grasslands, wildflowers and wildlife on this hike. Learn more about this hike and directions, including different levels of hiking to help you select a day of hiking & tasting that suits your desire.
Pair your hike with our 2013 Necessity White that features a soft and subtle nose that jumps out of the glass with notes of passion fruit, gardenia and a touch of lemon rind. A bright but smooth palate full of white peach, vanilla, honeysuckle and melon.
The tasting room team has a passion for hiking and has logged many miles on trails throughout the Columbia Gorge so be sure to get their advice when you’re in the tasting room. If you want to immerse yourself in Columbia Gorge Hiking be sure to pick up local author Scott Cook’s book Curious Gorge or Plan a Hike with this great guide from the Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
Kick off summer in style with a Hike & Taste starting at Cathedral Ridge Winery and other great Columbia Gorge AVA wineries.
For more than 10 years as the proprietor of Cathedral Ridge Winery Robb Bell has learned many things about how to make wine, how to grow grapes and how to manage people. One of his biggest joys as he’s moved from being a Procter & Gamble executive to being a winemaker is creating an experience in the tasting room and on special wine tasting experiences such as Vertical Vineyard Immersion and Varietal Vineyard Immersion experiences.
Besides Michael Sebastiani, a 4th generation Sonoma family winemaker who flies up to help Robb create the wine, Robb’s staff is comprised almost entirely of women. He’s found that their lack of presumption, pretense and ego combined with a great deal of wine knowledge and passion allows for the tasting room staff to combine a visitors needs and their own knowledge and passion to create an immersive and special tasting experience.
He has learned, over the course of 10 years, a few things about managing the matriarchy. First things first, really smart women manage themselves if you allow them the opportunity to work together and for each of them to have clarity about their role and then independence to execute with their own skill set. “I hire really smart women, and then get out of their way,” says Bell.
Those working in the tasting room tend to be incredibly knowledgeable about the wine and incredibly engaged in the customer experience. They are there because of the love of the wine and all it represents, not for the money.
The wineries manager Julie Skov spends most of her day marketing and promoting the wine and caring for the wine club and wine tasting customers. One of her gifts is galvanizing the women in the winery to execute on what they do best and to give them, individually and collectively, the opportunity to shine.
Wine lovers who visit Cathedral Ridge Winery fall into two camps, either they enjoy the experience and then move on or they become fiercely loyal. Cathedral Ridge Winery has a deep wine club membership and a devoted fan base. The matriarchy is spectacular at orchestrating engaging wine-tasting experiences as well as events such as holiday parties and wine tasting events. They not only connect with their customers but also serve the community. For example this past week Cathedral Ridge Winery hosted an event for Haven of The Dalles called Wine, Women & Wardrobe. It was an opportunity for women to get together, share clothing with each other, taste wine and also contribute to a worthy cause, Haven of The Dalles serves victims of domestic violence. CRW women helped raise money and awareness for the organizations cause.
Many bold and rich Columbia Gorge red wines taste wonderful with chocolate. For example, although our Syrah is wonderful with a pepper-steak and sautéed mushrooms, it can be held until dessert to be served with chocolate truffles. Taste the wine with the chocolate still in your mouth for a new experience!
You don’t have to finish the bottle
If you would like to try your favorite red wine, but don’t plan to finish the bottle, you can serve 1-2 glasses then cork the wine and put in the refrigerator. The chilled temperature will hold the wine for an extra 2 or 3 days. Just remember to let it come back to life at room temperature before serving!
How to get more out of a naturally effervescent wine
Some white wines are blended or bottled with some residual carbon dioxide in the wine. This is felt as a “spritz” in the mouth. The extra carbon dioxide adds a brightness to the wine and increases longevity. To taste the layers of flavor underneath, and instantly age the wine, replace the cork and shake the bottle (it will fizz like a sparkling wine), remove the cork and repeat. Do this several times, and you will notice more flavors coming through.
Chilling can cover up the flavor
Chilling is the most popular way to serve white wines. It brings out the fruitiness and also makes them quite refreshing. Riesling and Pinot Gris can be chilled more, say 45-50 degrees F. Chardonnays should be slightly warmer, say 50-55 degrees F. Each should be chilled for about 2 hours in the refrigerator. Prolonged chilling can permanently change the wine. Store your white wines at cellar temp with your red wines (60-65 degrees F), and then put in the refrigerator the day you will serve it.
Chilling red wines
Even some high-fruit red wines can be chilled. Some reds, like a light Pinot Noir or Italian Sangiovese or Aleatico, can be chilled to just below cellar temperature (55-60 degrees F). If they are intended to be an intensely fruity red wine those qualities will be highlighted. For example you can chill our Rose as it has both red and white wine qualities.
Which is better, natural cork or screw cap?
The search for fine wine can get confusing if you don’t know the differences among natural corks, manufactured corks, and screw top closures. The first thing you need to know is the style of the wine. Since manufactured corks and screw caps prevent any oxidation, look for bright and fruity wines. Traditional corks allow for aging of the wine in the bottle, so aged reds will benefit most. Don’t be discouraged by the talk about “corked” wines. “Cork taint” has always existed and can be managed. Corks are a natural product being formed from the bark of the cork tree. Although manufactured corks and screw caps serve a purpose, we still think high quality natural cork is the only way to bottle fine wines. It allows for the natural long-term aging of our Columbia Valley wines.
Since 2004, Robb Bell and his winemaker Michael Sebastiani have been at the forefront of the wineries in the Columbia Gorge AVA. Cathedral Ridge Winery was awarded Best Winery in 2007 by Wine Press Northwest and has continued to garner accolades in regional and national awards for their wine. The CRW blog team is creating a 4-part series to explore the excellence of Columbia Gorge AVA Winemakers & Growers and we wanted to kick it off with Q & A with Robb.
What is your background prior to getting involved in the wine business?
My career in marketing and general management with Fortune 100 like Heinz, P&G, Kimberly Clarke etc… And my own consulting business for 20 years before I bought the little Flerchinger winery; during that time a primary client was Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. Viansa, Niebaum Coppala, Mondavi and Rubicon were all clients at one time or another. I’m grateful for that partnership and Michael Sebastiani is a core part of the winemaking team here, we couldn’t do it without him.
What is your favorite part about making wine?
I have two favorite parts. I love finishing the fermentation and pumping the wine to the barrels. The other thing I really like is watching the wines develop, and working with Michael to maintain consistency in some cases and to use and deploy our new finds to best advantage.
What was the hardest lesson you’ve learned since you started the winery more than 10 years ago?
You better have a trust fund. It’s really true. The better you do the more money you need. You also have to have a great deal of patience. You cannot rush the wine or the grapes.
What would Robb today do differently than Robb at that time?
I don’t like to think that way. I figured out a long time ago that if I look back I’d drive myself crazy. I have learned to pay a great deal more attention what happens to the vines and grapes before July 1st than worrying about sugar enhancements during the harvest. The key to proper crop loads and ripening is evaluating what kind of head start the vines have had as they come into the heat of summer.
How has the wine experience changed in the Columbia Gorge AVA since its inception?
Now we offer a legitimate experience in the respect that a number of wineries are open and offering good to very excellent wines. The overall tourism and spirits scene in the Hood River area fortunately continues to attract new visitors which are a requirement for maintaining basic profitability for the large number of wineries that are now open.
What do you love and hate about the wine awards process?
It gives wineries with good wines an opportunity to legitimately market themselves as stand out players without regard to the size of the winery. The only thing I don’t like is that everyone doesn’t participate because a medal for any one of us is a medal for me, in the respect of encouraging consumers to believe in our wines.
What is your hope for Cathedral Ridge Winery in the next 10 years?
I’d like to build on our reputation for fine wines and great service. I want to continue to enhance our facilities even if we need to move outside the scenic management area to do so. I want to continue to build on our reputation for fabulous representation of our wines and customer service by continue to hire and retain the brightest and the best. Visit the Cathedral Ridge Winery tasting room 11-6 daily to enjoy the fruits of Robb and Michael’s labor.
This is Part 1 of a 4-part series on Columbia Gorge AVA Winemakers and Growers.
Tasting experiences abound in the Hood River, Columbia Gorge area. In an effort to craft the perfect wine tasting experience for each persons taste Cathedral Ridge Winery has created 6 tasting experiences ranging from $10 to $100. We hope you’ll join us!
Craft your own flight of six wines from our award-winning wine list. To be enjoyed at the main bar, this flight also includes one Reserve Wine! – $10/person
Enjoy a selection of our current Reserve Wines in one elite flight! For those looking for a more private tasting experience, this flight is served in the Wine Club Bar (space permitting). –$20/person
Tour & Tasting
Interested in what it takes to be a fully-functioning craft winery? Well after an extensive and informative tour of our vineyards, winemaking facilities, and barrel rooms, you will know! A specialty tasting flight picked by our staff will guide you through our diverse wine list. –
(6 person minimum, please call for Reservations) $25/person
The closest you can get to the winemaking process, our Barrel Tasting offers an exclusive look at our wines to come! two wines tasted from the barrel, three current wines, and a gourmet food platter round out this tasting experience. –
(4 person minimum, please call for Reservations) $35/person
If the barrel shows the future of the winery, the cellar tells its history. Our cellar tour gives the opportunity to see how our wines have aged as well as the differences in vintages in a place few get to see – our cellar! Two Cellar Wines, three current wines, and a gourmet food platter make this a truly unique tasting experience
(6 person minimum, please call for Reservations)- $50/person
The “Full Treatment” – Move between barrel tastings, cellar tastings, Reserve wines and current wines in one tour de force tasting experience. Our cellar master guides you through the history, future, and current production of our winery, but it’s your wine preferences that guide the menu. All served with a gourmet food platter, this is the experience for those who want the inside look at what it means to be a craft winery.
(6 person minimum, please call for Reservations)- $100/person
On August 15, 1979 the nomination form was completed to include The Columbia Gorge Hotel in the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel, built nearly 100 years ago, is symbolic of the region. Residents, orchardists, windsurfers, kiteboarders, foodies, wine makers, brew masters and other visionaries have similarly gathered to the area for many pursuits and purposes. From the evolution of the hotel (from sightseeing location to hotel to home for the aged to wedding venue) to the evolution of the town (from fruit farms to windsurfing destination to drinking and dining excellence) what binds all those experiences is rooted in the unmatched natural beauty of the Gorge.
As we prepare to host our Vertical Version Immersion Experience this weekend Saturday April 18th, we welcome visitors to book their trip today to stay with our friends at the Columbia Gorge Hotel and stay, not just for the wine tasting, but for the weekend. Call 1-800-516-8710 to book your wine experience (subject to availability). To get you prepared for your weekend, here are 10 Things You May Not Know about the Columbia Gorge Hotel.
1) The Columbia Gorge Hotel, designed by Portland architect Morris H. Whitehouse, and completed in May of 1921 and was built one mile west of Hood River to accommodate travelers on the newly completed Columbia River Highway.
2) From 1921 to 1952 it experienced several changes in ownership and management, it was then converted into a home for the aged.
3) In 1978 plans were made to reopen as a resort hotel.
4) The hotel was fashioned after Italian Villa and Mission Style.
5) Simon Benson was pivotal, not just in the building of the hotel but of the construction of a road through the Columbia River Gorge. There were many problems with engineering and expenses, but with Benson helping to defray the cost, the highway of 180 miles from Astoria to Hood River was built.
6) Benson’s love and admiration of the area inspired him to give access to others to enjoy the Gorge. He was quoted as saying, “We have built good roads, and have invited the world to come and view our beauty spots, but until now we have done nothing toward taking care of them after they arrived. With our new hotel we will, in a measure, take care of this.”
7) Presidents Roosevelt and Coolidge visited the hotel.
8) The restaurant hosts a 7-Course Sunday Farmer’s Brunch every Sunday.
9) There is an on-site spa with services ranging from make-up to massages.
10) The hotel is located in the Columbia Gorge AVA which boasts more than 40 wineries.
Book your Cathedral Ridge Winery Vertical Varietal Immersion Tour and stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel this weekend, Saturday April 18th. Call 1-800-516-8710 to book your package for $179 (subject to availability).
Spring is a time of renewal, a time for Spring Cleaning, a time for change. I find myself less interested in change and more interested in really diving into the things I KNOW I like. Things like TEDTalks, so I created a list of 100 I want to listen to, like Bloody Mary’s, so I created a Pinterest board with 10 recipes I love, like reading, so I made a list of 25 classics I want to read this year, like bacon & chocolate, so I set out to find recipes and wine pairings to explore that lovely quintessential sweet & savory experience. The research turned up some unlikely candidates, such as Mole Chili, but here are my favorite bacon & chocolate wine pairings:
Blue-Cheese Wedge Salad with Bacon & Chocolate & Syrah
4 slices peppered bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
Sprinkle of cocoa nibs
Bake or fry bacon slices until crispy. Drain off fat and allow to cool
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream and garlic. Add the vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and cayenne and whisk until the mixture is totally smooth.
Chop up the bacon into pieces. Cut the iceberg in half right through the middle, then cut the halves into wedges.
Add dressing then sprinkle on the blue cheese, bacon & cocoa nibs
Pair with 2012 Syrah with its alluring bouquet of ripe raspberries, sweet brown spice and allspice lead into a palate rich with black currant, soft licorice and brandy-soaked berries. Slate and cocoa on the finish.
Rachel Ray’s Mole Chili with Bacon & Chocolate & Merlot
3 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 quart beef stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 slices lean, smoky bacon, chopped
2 pounds ground sirloin
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (15 ounces)
2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika for mild mole, or chili powder for spicy mole (a couple of palmfuls)
1 tablespoon coriander (a palmful)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt, if necessary
2 cups shredded or crumbled extra-sharp white cheddar
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Hot pickled vegetables (giardiniara), drained and chopped, for serving
Put the chiles in a pot with the stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer until softened, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil, one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. When the oil smokes, add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the meat, raise the heat to high and brown for 8 minutes. Lower the heat a bit, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes to soften. Season the meat and onion with black pepper, to taste (hold off on the salt until the chili is completed due to the addition of the bacon and the stock).
Add the anchos with the stock to a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.
Add the tomato paste to the meat mixture. Stir for 1 minute, then pour in the ancho stock. Stir in the tomatoes, spices, cocoa and cinnamon. Simmer for a few minutes, adjust the seasoning and add a touch of salt, if needed.
Serve the chili in shallow bowls topped with the cheese, raw red onion and spicy chopped vegetables with the 2012 Merlot.
Cocoa-Rubbed Steak with Bacon Whiskey Gravy & Cabernet Sauvignon
For the steak:
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1 -pound New York strip steaks (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the gravy:
4 strips bacon, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whiskey
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the steak: Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the steak and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes.
Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat; if the alcohol ignites, let the flames die out. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter; when it melts, add the steak and sear until a dark crust forms, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.
Pair with 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon a smooth and complex Cab with a nose of rosemary, vanilla and blueberry with a palate full of black currant, caramel and a long cedar finish.
Chocolate Bacon Truffles & Necessity Red
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts
8 thick bacon slices, cooked and divided
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Process first 3 ingredients and 6 bacon slices in a food processor 20 to 30 seconds or until finely ground. Stir together bacon mixture and peanut butter in a small bowl until smooth. Cover and chill 2 hours.
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of bacon mixture into 3/4-inch balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; chill 1 hour.
Chop remaining 2 bacon slices. Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Dip chilled bacon balls into chocolate. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle tops with bacon. Chill 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Pair with 2012 Necessity Red, a combination of 66% Pinot Noir, 17% Merlot and 17% Zinfandel with fruity notes of huckleberry, bing cherry with earthy aromas of cardamom and a caramel finish.
Chocolate-Covered Bacon & Bordheauxd Red
16 slices applewood smoked bacon, thick cut, cooked crisp and cooled, cut in half
3 (4-ounce) bars semisweet chocolate, chopped (recommended: Ghirardelli)
1 (4-ounce) bar white chocolate, chopped
Melt both the semisweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate double boilers. Whisk until completely smooth. Remove them from the heat.
Dunk the bacon into the semisweet chocolate and make sure it is completely coated. Let excess drip off and lay on a parchment or waxed paper lined quarter sheet tray. Repeat with all the bacon slices. Drizzle the white chocolate over the chocolate covered bacon. Put the sheet tray in the refrigerator to set, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the sheet tray to a serving dish and serve.
Pair with 2012 Bordheauxd Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Named after the “Board Heads” (windsurfers and kiteboarders) that scatter the beautiful Columbia River Gorge in the summer. Cathedral Ridge’s twist on a classic Bordeaux.
Bourbon Bacon & Chocolate Chip Cookies & Pinot Noir
3 tablespoons Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
3/4 pound bacon, 1/4-inch dice*
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup reserved bacon fat, chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces**
In a large sauté pan, cook out the diced bacon until the bacon pieces are golden and crisp.
Remove the bacon pieces from the fat and drain on a paper towel.
Strain the fat through a fine sieve and measure out a 1/2 cup of bacon fat and chill the bacon fat until it congeals and is set.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
Beat the butter, chilled bacon fat, granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugars, vanilla and Maker’s Mark® Bourbon in large mixer bowl until it is well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in the flour mixture.
Stir in the cooked bacon pieces and chopped chocolate bits.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3 inches apart.
Bake in the oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Keep in a dry, airtight container for up to 5 days.
* A fattier sliced bacon is preferred, as lean bacon and turkey bacon will not work for this recipe.
** Use a dark chocolate with 65% cocoa or higher. Anything from a 65%-85% chocolate will work well.
Pair with 2012 Tempranillo, the fresh fruit flavors of plum and blackberry and notes of tobacco and leather is a perfect heady compliment to this dessert.
Want to learn more about food & wine pairing and learn about the Bordeaux varietal? Join us for Varietal Vertical Immersion April 18th.
I love my first cup of coffee in the morning. As I draw my bubble bath, ruminate on the prior day’s successes and failures and prepare for today’s challenges coffee is the marker of a new beginning that each day offers. It’s the champion in your corner engaging your senses of smell and taste and even your bravery to believe that anything is possible. Conversely, wine is the thing that signals the move from the hectic, rewarding work day into those activities that bring us home and near our loved ones. Pouring a glass of wine while preparing dinner or pulling out the backgammon or chess boards for what will surely be another hard-fought but losing battle (Scrabble is my game, but that’s another post) eases us into the sometimes quieter and often less-structured part of our day. There’s something powerful about the signals coffee and wine provide us in a day that we’re lucky enough to partake in their liquid perfection.
When I spend time in a wine tasting room I marvel at the differences of the experience each visitor has, as well as their similarities. What makes Cathedral Ridge Winery’s tasting room special is the collection of women who bring their own passion and expertise to the experience.
For Jocelyn, wine is the thing that inspired her to move to the area and buy a small vineyard and explore her passion and love of all things wine, including the predecessor of that great first sip of wine to the fruit that grows and evolves to be the foundation of that delectable nectar.
For Lorri Connelly her love of meeting people from all over the country and having something in common to talk about (wine) is amazing. “Everyone is in a good mood when tasting and talking about wine”, she shared. Connelly, an accomplished musician who plays fiddle in a band shares her love of music with visitors as well as her passion for the 2011 Zinfandel Reserve.
Long-time employee Sue Farro has a knack for engaging visitors with her unconventional and unassuming style. Her approachability is complimented by her depth of wine knowledge. Her favorite Cathedral Ridge Winery wine is the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend, she adds “It’s a complex red blend, complex like me!”
Julie Skov, the wineries manager, loves the ever changing state of the wine business. “You can never get bored”, she shares. There’s always something new to learn, another wine to try, another pairing to perfect. Her descriptions of wine inspires people to talk about food. When speaking of the flavor palette, she favors descriptors closest to food, “I love the bold, smoky, meaty flavors in the Syrah.” Skov has a flare for pairing, her favorite pairing was definitely the 2012 Barbera Reserve and the recipe she’s posted here for Italian Lamb Pizza.
Wine drinking and coffee drinking have many similarities, the most important being the passion we bring to our drinking experience. Michael Barthmus, proprietor of Hood River Coffee Shop Doppio, a past product manager in Germany for Mercedez-Benz, similarly educates and serves the area. When I returned from Italy a few years ago, I told Barthmus how impressed I was that the Italian drink their espresso and cappucinno with gusto, at the bar and never in a paper cup. He proceeded to share his Italian-inspired creation, the Miguelito. A perfect blend of espresso, cream and half a packet of raw sugar. Doppio is still my favorite cafe here, not just because they have amazing coffee, but because that level of passion and engagement still exists nearly a decade after their opening.
Whether you live in Hood River or are just lucky enough to visit, your love of all things coffee and wine should include a trip to both Doppio and the Cathedral Ridge Winery tasting rooms. The winery is hosting a Vertical Varietal Immersion Tasting For the fun, the passion and to elevate coffee and wine drinking to an artistic experience.
If you’re looking for a more thoughtful, in-depth wine tasting experience, here are 5 reasons to join us for our Varietal Vertical Immersions on March 21st and/or April 18th. Join us to discover wines from multiple vineyards that are still in the barrel, wines that are currently on the floor and rare 7-10 year old library wines.
5) Spend Time in the Columbia Gorge
The Columbia Gorge AVA was only established in 2004 but area wineries are winning awards, famous vintners are homesteading here and the many varietals that can grow in the regions 40-mile microclimate are similar to those grown in the Bordeaux region of France.
And that’s just the wine scene. Last year, Hood River, Oregon was named by Livability in the top 10 for America’s Best Small towns.
As a past 18-year resident, I can attest to the beauty of the area and the unparalleled passion for all things wine and food. Restaurants such as Celilo have been included in New York Times as an “upscale-healthy hip” favorite, Pfriem Brewery is a Northwest and Belgian inspired brewery winning awards left and right including the Gold at the recent Oregon Beer Awards (not an easy feat for a state known for its breweries). Boda’s Kitchen, a gourmet delicatessen, has been named one of the areas best restaurants. Their delicious and imaginative menu is locally sourced and their recent purchase of a high-end smoker bodes well for the meat-lover.
In 2008, “Bottle Shock” was featured at the Sundance Film Festival and made headlines for sharing the oft-referenced “Bottle Shock” story. French wine experts participated in blind wine tasting that illuminated the Napa and Sonoma Valley excellence and sometimes superior wines. In 1976, a small American winery bested the exalted French wines of the time and sent the wine industry into a tailspin – putting California wines on the map for good. Based on a true story, Bottle Shock chronicles the events leading up to the famous ‘Judgment of Paris’ tastings, told through the lives of father and son, Jim and Bo Barrett.
The Columbia Gorge AVA is poised for such excellence. Some of the grape varietals grown in Columbia Gorge and Columbia Valley AVAs include: Albariño, Aglianico, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Gamay, Gewürztraminer, Grenache, Gruner Vertliner, Lemberger, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Mourvedre, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Riesling, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, White Riesling and Zinfandel.
The Varietal Vertical Immersion ™ experience focuses on a handful of varietals as they share a library of different years of the same varietal to explore the interest and complexity of single varietal wines.
3) Visit Top Wineries in a 5-mile Radius
Cathedral Ridge Winery Varietal Vertical Immersion™ experience lasts for about 2 hours, which leaves plenty of time to visit our friends down the road at Marchesi Vineyard, The Pines, Viento and Phelps Creek Vineyards. To give a feel for the quality, in the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Marchesi Vineyard won Best of Show for their 2012 Sangiovese and Cathedral Ridge Winery won Double Gold for 2012 Bolton Vineyard Barbera Reserve.
Geographically, the Columbia Gorge has it all. Moving from West to East along the Columbia River, the climate goes from a temperate rain forest at Cascade Locks (~80 inches of annual precipitation) to an extremely arid high desert in The Dalles (~14 inches of annual precipitation.)
The interceding 40 miles covers a broad range of climates and places, The Columbia Gorge is within only a few degrees of latitude as the famous French wine regions like The Rhone Valley, The Rhine Valley, Burgundy, and Bordeaux.
Also in the Columbia Gorge’s favor is the extreme proximity of the different microclimates. Few wineries purchase grapes from farther than 30 miles away. This proximity means that from the time of picking to crushing and wine making is only a few hours as opposed to days. The result is cleaner, more aromatically intriguing wines.
But even the best grapes in the world can be mistreated in the hands of novice wine makers. Luckily for the Columbia Gorge, the versatile growing region has attracted masterful wine makers from the beginning. The region has drawn winemakers from some of the best winemaking schools in the world like UC Davis and winemakers who have found success in the Willamette Valley and Sonoma, as well as winemakers from Europe.
2) Immerse Yourself in the Discovery Process
John Medina’s book “Brain Rules” outlines the biology of experience and remembering and there’s strong correlation when multiple senses are engaged. Not only will you smell and taste the wine, but you’ll experience standing in the barrel room where proprietor Robb Bell and fourth-generation Sonoma winemaker Michael Sebastiani create the award-winning wine. You’ll hear about groundskeeper Francisco Chairez who has been with the winery even before Bell purchased it in 2003. Making wine discovery that much more fun and memorable.
1) Taste Great Wine
Join Cathedral Ridge Winery March 21st and/or April 18th to taste wines from multiple vineyards that are still in the barrel, wines that are currently on the floor and rare 7-10 year old library wines. Hosted by the Cellar Master, Robb Bell. Experience the wine developing from grape to barrel to bottle to cellar, and purchase your favorites to bring home. Each session is limited to 25 people so check out the tasting menu and register now.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Spring out here!
Taking the bird nets off is one of the first steps. Doing this allows us to start the pruning process and get the vines ready to grow those delicious grapes. The easiest way to take them off is by using a tractor and rolling them up on a pipe while pulling them off. We use the same nets year to year to save money and not waste. Stay tuned for some vine pics and updates on the pruning