Underwood Mountain Winery and Tasting Room
Mountain Grown Wines Crafted One Barrel at a Time
We are thrilled to welcome you to our tasting room at our vineyard estate on Underwood Mountain, the Gorge’s next great wine destination! With its spectacular backdrop of Mt. Hood and the Hood River Valley, our Underwood, WA, location is an ideal destination for your day trip from Portland. Discover this perfect spot to sip award-winning wines, soak in world-class scenery, and enjoy a picnic. We are only ten minutes from Hood River, and a stones throw from the quaint town of White Salmon on the Washington side of the Columbia River!
In 2017 Travel + Leisure recognized Hawkins Cellars as the top rated winery in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the twenty best wineries in the country! Our current wine-tasting menu features a selection of our most recent vintages of Chardonnay, Viognier, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery is the site of Cloud Cap Vineyard, where our estate Pinot Noir was planted in 2013.
(Fast Navigation Links)
- The Columbia Gorge: A World of Options to Explore Near Hood River, OR
- A Great Variety of Wines from the Around the Northwest!
- Washington’s Frontier Winemakers Are Forging the Next Willamette Valley
- Wine Maker Notes – Working with the Best Vineyards In Oregon and Washington
- Amazing Scenic Views Of Washington and Hood River While You Enjoy Our Wines
10401 Cook-Underwood Rd,
Underwood, WA 98651
Open Thursday through Sunday
The Columbia Gorge: A World to Explore Near Hood River, Oregon
Our Underwood tasting room is located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, one of the many wineries located on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge AVA. From here, you can enjoy all the outdoor activities in the Gorge: hiking and exploring the famous “Waterfall Alley” in the Gorge, whitewater rafting, fishing, mountain biking and, of course, windsurfing and kite boarding! The charming towns of White Salmon, Stevenson, and Hood River offer an array of restaurants, brew pubs, shopping and art galleries. Sip and stay! The Hood River area has many lodging options, including vacation rentals, bed & breakfasts and hotels. The beautiful Skamania Lodge is less than 30 minutes from Underwood Mountain.
Thane Hawkins founded Hawkins Cellars in 2007 with a fool’s mission: to find the best vineyard sites growing his favorite French varietals and make those wines all under one roof. It was a negociant’s dream, and Thane’s wanderlust for quality grapes has taken him from Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley, to Red Mountain in eastern Washington. More recently, Hawkins Cellars has found a home on Underwood Mountain, a cool growing region similar in climate to Alscace. It is there that we are both growing and sourcing cool climate varietals, as well as continuing to source from a stable of world class sites from around the region.
Hawkins Cellars offers an outstanding selection of award-winning wines from the Columbia Valley AVA: Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, and Grenache. Unlike the Willamette Valley’s cool and wet climate, the Columbia Valley tends to be warmer and drier, making it an ideal area for big, bolder reds. Its continental high desert climate creates hot days that promote slow, even ripening, followed by cool nights that ensure the grapes retain their natural acidity. With an average annual rainfall of just 6 to 8 inches, this area is an ideal location to grow the grapes for big, bold, fruit-forward wines.
For our signature Barrel Select Viognier, we took our best barrels from a mix of French oak and stainless steel to go into this limited production wine. Aromatic yet restrained, our Viognier has a rich mouth feel while retaining a crispness that gives it the perfect balance. It tastes like summer in a bottle!
Our Caldera Red — a Côtes du Rhône cuvée — pays homage to the active volcanoes that helped shape the landscape and soils of the Columbia Valley. Comprised of 50% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah, and 25% Grenache, the process of co-fermenting the grapes together results in a unique wine that possesses both intense flavor and structure. This flavor bomb is full of mixed berry flavors and scents that will almost make you think you walked into a pie shop.
You can’t produce Rhone varietals without making a Syrah. The grapes for our Syrah’s are sourced from Chandler Reach and Boushey Vineyards. Long summer days and cool nights result in radical temperature swings, producing grapes with a rare combination of sugar and acidity. Eighteen months of barrel aging assures that our Syrah has complexity and a long, smooth finish.
In every family there has to be a big brother, and in this family it’s our Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit for our Cabernet comes from Kiona and Chandler Reach Vineyards from both the Yakima and Red Mountain AVAs. Aged 18 months in barrel, the result is a bold wine that is both approachable and complex. Enjoy it while still young or, for those who can resist its charms, cherish the tantalizing secrets it will reveal in years to come.
Last but not least are our single varietal Mourvèdre and Grenache. Affectionately referred to as “liquid gold” by our members, these wines are produced in small quantities and are available for members only. We sourced them from both Heart of the Hill and Lonesome Spring Vineyards, selecting only the best barrels.
Washington’s Frontier Winemakers Are Forging the Next Willamette Valley
Underwood Mountain rises into view on the Washington side of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic landscapes: the Columbia River Gorge, a playground for windsurfers, hikers, skiers, and those in search of one of the prettiest drives in America.
If Thane Hawkins has his way, this mountain and gorge will soon be as big a draw for another kind of activity: wine tasting. He’s so convinced he’s started growing grapes on Underwood Mountain. Last fall, his Hawkins Cellars winery opened a tasting room and patio in Underwood with epic views of Mount Hood. If he and a handful of neighbors succeed, they’ll put an otherwise obscure region on the map, and offer a welcome respite to the often traffic-choked interstates that deliver wine lovers from Portland to the Willamette Valley. But wine is a competitive business, and finding a way to rise above the noise won’t be easy.
The Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area is about 4,500 acres, while Oregon’s more famous growing region, the Willamette Valley, covers 3.3 million acres and contains six sub-appellations. The Gorge straddles both Oregon and Washington, with a wide variety of terroir relative to its size. “People don’t immediately think of this as a growing region,” Hawkins says. “This is one of the few areas that has yet to be really discovered, both from a winemaking and a wine-growing perspective.”
The range of microclimates in the Gorge makes a case for Underwood Mountain to be its own AVA, Hawkins says. “We have a harsher climate with a shorter growing season on Underwood Mountain, and the fruit doesn’t ripen without a strong human element. But 30 miles away, they’re ripening Zinfandel,” Hawkins says. “The slam dunk would be for Underwood Mountain to be its own AVA.”
Hawkins is a newcomer to Underwood; he and his business partner Debra Michelson started growing grapes here in 2013. See the full article on VINEPAIR by VinePair.com (Published: January 4, 2018).
Wine Maker Notes – We Work With The Best Vineyards In Oregon and Washington
Hawkins Cellars has worked with dozens of different vineyard sites over the years because we believe each vineyard site brings something unique to the table. The vineyards we really enjoy working with in the Columbia Valley are located in two AVAs in Benton City, Washington:
-Yakima Valley, WA, AVA: Lonesome Spring Ranch Vineyard and Chandler Vineyards (Benton City, WA)
-Red Mountain AVA: Heart of the Hill Vineyard and Kiona Vineyards
Stainless Steel and Neutral Oak
Our primary goal is to retain freshness in wine. To do this we have increasingly gravitated toward using stainless steel and neutral oak barrels for fermentation and aging. Stainless steel fermentation/aging has become a critical component in achieving our winemaking style, producing wines that are leaner and fruitier than those that are wine-aged in new oak. For example, our Viognier program employs approximately 50% stainless steel and 50% neutral French oak barrels. The neutral oak helps lend just a hint of structure and “mouth feel” to compliment the acidity. Our Rhone red cellar program uses only one, two, and three year old, as well as neutral, oak barrels. We don’t want the toasted oak and sweet flavors of new wood to overwhelm the fruit characteristics in the wine. With Syrah, using neutral oak barrels tends to make the fruit appear brighter. However, we have found that varietals that tend to impart very distinctive and sometimes slightly bitter flavors, such as Cabernet, do benefit from a light regimen of new wood.
White Wines and Limiting Secondary Fermentation
Acidity and freshness are intrinsically linked. In addition to the selection of cool climate sites that retain natural acidity, we also inhibit the secondary fermentation (also known as malolactic fermentation) to retain the brighter malic acid before it gets converted to the softer lactic acid. White wines that go all the way through malolactic fermentation tend to have that “buttery” characteristic, and combined with high alcohol, have a slightly viscous or oily character. By retaining malic acid and harvesting fruit earlier, we get the brighter acid profile that allows for big fruit and aromatics while maintaining balance. Focusing the winemaking on retention of tannin and acidity tends to result in very food friendly wines that have a strong backbone. Acid cuts through fats and oils, providing structure and intensifying flavors in food.
Amazing Scenic Views Of Washington and Hood River
While you are sipping our award-winning wines, enjoy the one-in-a-million views from Underwood Mountain. It simply does not get better than relaxing on our patio with a glass of one our wines while looking out over a valley blessed with a view of a majestic mountain. And if your idea of relaxing includes lawn games, you are more than welcome to play croquet or bocce ball on our lawn!