After leaving Multnomah Falls, we headed up to the Columbia River Gorge area in search of good food, and more importantly, good wine. This region is known for its excellent growing conditions producing some of the country’s best wines. Climate and terrain throughout the Gorge range from conditions found in Germany to France’s Burgundy and Italy’s northern Rhone Valley and northwest Piedmont. From the cool, western end of the Gorge come delicate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays; moving eastward, warmer-weather red grapes such as Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernets and Barberas share the warmth with white Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Viogniers. The diversity of wine grapes grown in the Columbia River Gorge are unlikely to be matched elsewhere in such a small stretch of land. We had limited time in the area-enough only to visit a few wineries-and were not disappointed in any of them. I think our favorite was Marchesi Vineyards where Italian varietals are produced. The tasting room and outdoor sitting areas were beautiful and we could have easily spent more time there. But, it was our last stop of a really long day, they were closing, and all good things must come to an end. I should also make mention that on top of the lovely wineries, the scenery is drop dead gorgeous – snowcapped mountain peaks in every direction, hills and valleys with wildflowers blooming everywhere, colorful cherry orchards (we did pull over and sample a few right off the trees) and, of course, the beautiful Columbia River flowing through it all.

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