Columbia River Gorge AVA

Columbia River Gorge AVA

Columbia Gorge AVA 

A World of Wine in 40 Miles

Less than an hour east of Portland, nestled between the majestic peaks of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, lies the Gorge Wine region. This grape- growing region is defined by the Columbia River as it cuts through the Cascade Range at the only sea level passage, between the Arctic Circle to San Francisco in the Western Cordillera Ranges. Here, vineyards experience an alpine influence due to proximity to the Cascade Mountain Range — terrains range from sea level to mountainous altitudes with many variables for orientations. The dramatic transition in landscape and climate is enhanced by the cool moisture flowing eastward from the ocean, bringing 50 inches of rain per year to the western side of the Cascades, while dropping as little as 10 inches to the region’s arid eastern end. 

Though most wine regions don’t cross state lines, the Gorge Wine region is comprised of an intrepid group of winemakers and growers on both shores of the river, in Oregon and Washington, bound by their passion for the craft and commitment to the land. Utilizing more than 50 different premium grape varieties grown across this 40 mile stretch, winemakers have a unique opportunity to create distinction and reveal place as they hone their craft. 

Hood River Oregon Wine Tasting Hawkins Cellars

Vineyards of Underwood Mountain

In the heart of the Columbia Gorge AVA located at the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains, across the Columbia River from Hood River, Oregon, Underwood catches the last of the cooling maritime influence that dominates the Willamette Valley to the southwest. 

Climbing quickly from the base of the Columbia River on the Washington side to elevations ranging from 800 and 1800 feet, vineyard sites on Underwood Mountain are often compared to the Alsace region of northeastern France. The vineyards are generally planted on a light-reddish volcanic sandy, clay loam called the “Underwood Series” that has accumulated through millennia of loess deposits and the slow degradation of the long extinct Underwood Mountain volcano.  Beneath the light, quickly draining soil are basalt boulders ranging from as large rocks to small buses. These well draining soils, in conjunction with the truly cool sub-alpine climate, make it the perfect site to grow aromatic white grapes, as well as cool climate reds such as Pinot Noir.

Cloud Cap Estate Vineyard

Our estate vineyard on Underwood Mountain was planted in 2013, and we bottled our first vintage of Pinot Noir in 2017. The name of the vineyard came from standing on our deck on stormy days, and noticing that we were often looking down upon the clouds rather than up at them.  This is because the vineyard itself sits at 1400 feet elevation, with moderately steep and well-drained soils, and perfect southern exposure. Our vineyard is farmed organically, with no pesticides or chemicals applied of any kind. This results in a rich and diverse soil and plant biome that translates into wines that are pure and expressive.