Wine Lover’s Guide to the Columbia Gorge

With more than 1,000 vineyards producing around 3 million cases of wine per year, Oregon is a prime spot for wine connoisseurs in search of an alternative to Napa and Sonoma mainstays farther south. The Columbia River divides Oregon and the state of Washington to the north, and both sides of the river feature numerous wineries under the shared Columbia Gorgeappellation. The region produces a diverse array of varietals, including syrah, cabernet, and riesling, and is equally attractive for its spectacular forest and river landscapes and abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. 

WHERE TO DRINK

Grapes

Start your visit in the town of Hood River, the de facto windsurfing capital of the world and home to many of the Oregon side of the river's finest wineries. Local classics include the Marchesi Vineyards, run by a winemaker from Piemonte in Northern Italy. Cathedral Ridge Winery, operated by a fourth-generation winemaker, offers wine-and-cheese pairings and educational tours plus tastings straight from the barrel. Other local tasting rooms of note include Viento Wines, Mt. Hood Winery, and Naked Winery.

While there are enough wineries in and around Hood River to keep visitors happily imbibing all day, those who want to explore further afield should drive out to Maryhill Winery in the arid eastern edge of the region. While Maryhill’s wide selection of merlots, cabs, and chardonnay is enough to make the drive worthwhile, it’s especially fun to visit during their annual concert series, when the winery invites local and internationally renowned artists to perform in their outdoor amphitheater.

WHERE TO EAT

Double Mountain

Back in Hood River, there are plenty of great dining options, from local takes on traditional pub fare at Double Mountain Brewery, to seasonally inspired fine dining at Celio. Stonehenge Gardens is perhaps the most romantic of them all—it's set in a restored Victorian house surrounded by English gardens and serves classic European fare paired with local wines.

WHERE TO STAY

Columbia Cliff

If you plan to spend the night in the area, consider Columbia Cliff Villas, which overlook the Columbia River from a cliffside perch on the west side of town. Many of the rooms at this upscale property come with perks such as fireplaces and deep soaking tubs; villas and condos are available for longer stays.