Oregon Bounty 2006 Day Two: Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge – Pinot Envy
I’m no stranger to the world of Pinot noir, be it from California, Burgundy, or right here at home. And, I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to this grape. Partly out of citizenship, but mostly because I’m hard pressed to find anything I’d rather drink than a well-crafted Oregon Pinot noir. Of those, I’ve limited my sphere of Pinot reality to the Willamette Valley. If it wasn’t grown in that narrow strip between the mountain ranges of the Coast and Cascades, well, it couldn’t really be Pinot noir.
On The Road With Oregon Bounty Lesson Learned #1: get your sorry glass out of town once in a while.
Day Two of my road trip took me to Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. There, I met Christie Reed, who along with her husband and partners, are pushing the boundaries of Pinot noir a lot farther east than snobs like me thought possible. Their Mt. Hood Winery is one of a growing number of producers that are popping up amid the apple and pear orchards of the Hood River Valley.
The winery is small, almost sub-boutique. But, what they lack in fussiness, they more than make up for in the bottle. I loved their 2003 Pinot noir, with a jammy nose (that’s wine dork for “smell”) and ripe berry finish. Not a steal, but well worth the $22. And their 2005 Pinot gris ($16) was pleasingly subtle, with aromas of melon and lemongrass. As I tasted the Pinot gris, I couldn’t help but hope we’d see an early Dungeness crab season this year. They’d be a perfect match.
If the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge region is on your radar during Oregon Bounty, you couldn’t pick a better time of year to go. The harvest of aforementioned pears and apples is underway, and you can’t drive far without happening upon a roadside farm stand. We must have past a least a dozen, from slick country stores, to the guy selling Galas and Bartletts out of the back of his pickup. This fruit fervor all comes to a head during the annual Hood River Valley Harvest Fest on the weekend of October 20.
To see what’s happening throughout this region during harvest, check out the Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge section of traveloregon.com/bounty and click on Festivals/Events. To see a video diary of my experiences here today, just click on the video window here. Read about my reflections of some of my special places in this region.
See you soon On The Road!