The town of Hood River, OR, about an hour's drive east of Portland, has the makings outdoors oenophile's dream and perfect place for a romantic getaway. Home to super surf shops, great cycling, charming B & Bs and wineries, Hood River is also a foodie's favorite with restaurants serving wine friendly food prepared with local produce and fish, served in a contemporary, yet relaxed atmosphere.
With wind speeds averaging 20 to 30 miles per hour, Hood River is a hotspot for world-class windsurfing and kitesurfing. There are local outfitters who will get you geared up and cruising across water. The area also has plenty of stand-up paddling boarding, kayaking, rafting and endless hiking, cycling and mountain bike routes topping out at mountain tops with magnificent bird's eye views of the rolling farms, riverbeds and vineyards below.
One of my favorite cycling routes around wine country is the scenic thirty-five mile Fruit Loop. It makes is a terrific morning ride or a great spin and sip day of connecting wine tasting room on two-wheels breezing past orchards, fields of fragrant lavender, verdant forests and farm stands selling seasonal produce. The South Bank Kitchen on Oak Street is your picnic-planning place. Selling sandwiches, salads and scrumptious baked good made from scratch, it's easy to stop - load up - and go!
Some standout wineries on the Fruit Loop include Pheasant Valley, Phelps, Wy'East Cathedral Ridge, know for their Huber Pinot Noir and double-gold winning Syrah. While in town, new kid on the block Marchesi has created quite a buzz with their 2008 Emma Sangiovese that won Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2010. In downtown Hood River, The Pine Vineyard's tasting room is a great stop for a luscious old vine Zinfandel and good swirling and sipping fun, head over to the Naked Winery who "aims to tease," as their website says, for a pour of their Foreplay Chardonnay, Vixen Syrah or Oh, Orgasmic. Cold shower, optional.
Cathedral Ridge Winery 4200 Post Canyon Drive, Hood River, OR * 541-386-2882 * 800-516-8710 * www.cathedralridgewinery.com Award-winning Syrah and Huber Pinot Noir.
Marchesi Vineyards 3955 Belmont Drive, Hood River, OR 541-386-1800 *
www.marchesivineyards.com Growing Italian varietals on the foothills of Mount Hood, Barbera, Pinot Nero, Dolcetto, Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese.
Naked Winery Tasting Room 102 2nd Street, Hood River, OR 541-386-3700 * www.nakedwinery.com Live music at night. A fun, festive fiesta packed into a wine tasting room in downtown Hood River where you can get Naked with Sugar Daddy Muscat, Blazing Straddle Rose and Dominatrix Pinot Noir. They "aim to tease."
Pheasant Valley Winery 3890 Acree Drive, Hood River, OR, 541-357-wine * www.pheasantvalleywinery.com Don't miss the double-gold winning Chardonnay, organic Pinot Noir and zesty Zinfandel.
Phelps Creek 1850 Country Club Road, Hood River, Oregon * 541-386-2607 * www.phelpscreekvineyards.com Bugundian specialists whose reserve and Ceilo Chardonnay Estate Reserve and Becky's Cuvee Pinot Noir get top ratings.
The Pine Vineyard 202 State Street, Hood River, OR 541-993-8301 * www.thepinesvineyard.com Schmooze around the high bistro tables, admire the art gallery or belly up to the cherrywood tasting bar and sip their sips and mouthfilling Viogner and dark, spicy Old Vine Zinfandel.
WyEast Vineyards 3189 Hwy 35, Hood River, OR *541-386-1277 * www.wyeastvineyards.com Award winning Pinot Noir located on the Fruit Loop.
Stefani Jackenthal, President of NTS Wine Tasting LLC and author of WANDERLUST WINING, a fun, delicious guide to outdoor activities in wine regions across the USA. Jackenthal crafts private & corporate wine tastings and teaches wine classes at 92y.org. www.stefjack.com * www.wanderlustwining.com www.facebook.com/wanderlust.wining *Twitter: @stefjackenthal