So we cashed in our raincheck yesterday from the weekend when I got sick and we took off for the Fruit Loop, the Chamber of Commerce name for a scenic loop of highway through the Hood River Valley, which has beautiful views of Mt. Hood and miles and miles of adorable orchards. Pears, peaches, apples, and these days, ripe cherries.
It was one of those days. The sky was blue, the sailboards were shoulder-to-shoulder on the Columbia, the mountain was doing its best Majestic Cascade Lifestyle Magazine pose, the windows were rolled down, and the cherries were ripe.
But, um, practically speaking, with a back yard full of blueberries, rhubarb, zucchinis, salad, and baby green beans and peas, how much fruit do two people need? Luckily for all of us, there is also a healthy sprinkling of wineries on the Fruit Loop as well.
We stopped at four tasting rooms and managed to find something worthy at each one.
The White House, a multi-winery tasting room and fruit stand, is a little museum display its own self, as it was built in 19-oh-something and has the photographs to prove how a century ago the Hood River Valley was cleared from virgin primeval forest to the Disneyland of Fruit that it is today. Our choice (and here I must make a note to you red wine snobs that red wine gives me screaming headaches): White Salmon Vineyard 2004 Spicy White (a mix of mostly Chardonnay with a touch of Gevurtztraminer for spice).
We stopped at Mt. Hood Winery's new tasting room on the first day it was open. So firsties! It's quite a showroom of a tasting room. Beautiful carved multi-wood bar and Mt. Hood practically barging in the windows, somehow bigger and more impressive inside the room than outside. I hope the wedding they had planned for that afternoon went off okay. (Really? A wedding on the first day you're open for business? Ballsy.) Our choice: Mt. Hood Winery Estate Grown and Bottled 2008 Pinot Gris (grapes enjoy mountain views as well, so the label implies).
Cathedral Ridge Winery also has a lovely bar in their tasting room, a very nice pourer (pouresse?), glasses that reputedly explode upon onset of a peevish mood, and actual grapes on site. Important, I think, for credibility, if not for actual use. They will be honored to know they are this year's winner of Most Pretentious Yet Unintentionally Funny Back Label Sentence ("We are rich in fruit orchards, wild game and fish, and we vinify our wines to embrace these flavors of the region, and to be enjoyed with family and friends.") Mmmmmm, wild and fishy. Our choice: Cathedral Ridge 2007 Pinot Gris.
And finally, we come to the smallest and ugliest of the tasting rooms, one lovingly crafted from the corner of their tin shed, that of Hood River Vineyards. And yet, here we meet most of the characters from my next screenplay, Sideways and Upside Down On a Pole, the story of a young, tanned, surgically-enhanced-to-the-point-where-I-doubt-that-she-could-swing-a-golf-club stripper in a crocheted dress with enhanced boob-viewing capabilities, who meets a gullible young Hummer driver with daddy cash, who finds herself, implausibly, in a tiny wine tasting room with a veteran oenophile at the pour, who is tasked with finding a wine that she can learn to enjoy. I'm sorry we didn't stay long enough to see if the final option, the bing cherry dessert wine, was to her liking. But it was getting crowded in there. Oh, and our wine choice? a Hood River Vineyards 2005 dry Oregon Riesling (only they spell it "Reisling" on the label - for reals. This is backyard wine making at its best).
Oh, yes, I am writing that baby up and mailing it to myself, so don't think about ripping it off, bitches. It's got everything. Alcohol, sex and spelling. See you in Hollywood.