Wine Wanderings -Tricia Conover

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Fine Wines and Zip-Lines Define the Columbia River Gorge Area

Hawkins Cellars Boasts the Finest Views and Wine, 2nd in the “Wines of Washington” Series

Tricia Conover

The Columbia River Gorge area is a treasure in America’s landscape. The point where the mighty south- running Columbia River turns west towards the Pacific Ocean, the magic is seen. The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses views of Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge where sail boaters and windsurfers abound, and hikers check out the evergreen terrain. At this location at the edges of Washington State and Oregon, winemakers make wines from both states, a huge advantage for the avid wine connoisseur. We visited the highly acclaimed Hawkins Cellars during this visit as part of my “Wines of Washington tour.”  Yet, the active vacationer will not be disappointed. Zip-lines, obstacle courses, golf resorts, and boating are flourishing once again, post-Pandemic. For newsletter #1, “Wines of Washington,” seeWashington State’s Gilbert Cellars: Unique Wine Blends Made in a Vineyard/Orchard Setting.

Meet the Winemaker: Thane Hawkins

Hawkins Cellars, Underwood, Washington, brings the best of the nearby Oregon Willamette Valley AVA grapes, the Columbia Gorge AVA (American Viticultural Area) and the Hawkins Cellars estate grapes to his winemaking portfolio. The 2010 Hawkins Pinot Gris won “Best of Show” at the Bite of Oregon Wine Competition. His 2014 Caldera Red won Double Gold -94 Points-at the San Francisco International Wine Competition (SFIWC.) The winemaker, Thane Hawkins, originally had a successful career in the animations industry working on groundbreaking films like Shrek, Monster’s Inc, and ANTZ. When he felt it was time for a change, Thane studied viticulture, worked as an assistant winemaker for Methven Family Vineyards, and the had the opportunity to start his own winery. What a location he found for his winery on the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge and in view of Mt. Hood! Join the team for weekend live music events complete with food pairings.

Many of the grapes Thane Hawkins sources, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, come from warmer AVA’s in Washington, like Yakima Valley. His estate grapes are grown high on the cliffs of the Columbia River, however. These grapes are growing in an Alsace-like climate, almost sub-alpine. The Riesling and the dry TruNorth White blend (Pinot Gris and Gewurtztraminer) show the aromatic characteristics of alpine white flowers and orange peel along with the flavors of peaches, apricots, and smoke. The 2017 Caldera Red blend is considered their signature wine and is created in the Rhone River-style of a GSM – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre – blend, but in reverse order with the Mourvedre taking the star position. The Hawkins wine portfolio even includes and “Pet-Nat” sparkling Riesling, a truly thoughtful, well-curated menu.

Recommended Wines:

2020 TruNorth White, $22, Underwood Mountain, Columbia Gorge

2020 Rosé of Pinot Noir, $24, Underwood Mountain, Columbia Gorge

2017 Caldera Red, $34, Yakima Valley, Gold Medal winner

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, $42, Yakima Valley, Chandler Ranch

One of the Zip-lines at Skamania Lodge

Visiting Hawkins Cellars and the Columbia Gorge

Hawkins Cellars is only ten minutes from the Hood River, and a stone’s throw from the quaint town of White Salmon on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Travel and Leisure Magazine rated Hawkins Cellars one of the Top-Rated wineries in Pacific Northwest, and #17 in the United States. Hiking, ziplines, obstacle courses, and boating activities surround the winery. Nearby Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, Washington, offers these outdoor activities, and the choice of traditional lodging or treehouse cabin accommodations. Don’t forget to try the 900 ft. zip-line, an exhilarating experience.

Tricia Conover, Zip-line at Skamania lodge

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If You Go:

Hawkins Cellars, 10401 Cook Underwood Road, Underwood, WA 98651, 503-505-4359

Skamania Lodge, 1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way, Stevenson, WA 98648

Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, WA

Editorial Calendar

The Wines of Washington Series:

Yakima, WA: Gilbert Cellars at Hackett Ranch, Orchards, and Golf Outings

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars: Concerts, Weddings, and Fine Wines

The Columbia River Gorge: Zip-Lines and Fine Wines with Hawkins Cellars

Wine Tasting in Spokane: Latah Creek Wine Cellars

Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard

“Live” from the Academy of Wine Business Research, Dijon, France

An Interview with Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine: Author, “Ten Hot Wine Trends for 2021 in the US Market”

Wine Castles of Sonoma County

Napa Valley: Adventures Post-Pandemic

Healdsburg and the Wines of Sonoma

An Interview with Dominic Chappellet, Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley

America’s Exceptional Wine Country Adventures

The True Cost of a Cocktail

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