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May 20, 2009 12:35 PM

Columbia Gorge Memorial Day Open Houses?

Has anyone been to the open houses held on long weekends? (Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, etc.) Our trip to visit your wonderful neck of the woods happens to coincide with a bunch of open houses, and I typically lean toward a pretty quick in-and-out tasting. Should we try to get appointments on Friday to avoid the crowds? Live music, chocolate pairings, drunk crowds, and tours do very little for my appreciation of the actual wine, and a lot of wineries seem to be promoting that type of thing for Saturday/Sunday.

We've done quite a bit of exploring in the Willamette wine country, some favorites include Amity, Ken Wright, Soter, Domaine Drouhin to give you a baseline for our tastes, but this trip we're going to focus on the Columbia Gorge. We're equal-opportunity drinkers when it comes to varietals, but we have a lot of great Oregon pinot in our cellar already from previous trips so this time we're hoping to focus on other types of wine, though not to the exclusion of good pinot if we come across it.

Here's a list of the wineries participating in the open house:

This previous chowhound thread had recommendations for the following wineries...if you have opinions on any of the wineries below, please share--the recommendations I've been able to find were pretty spare.
Cathedral Ridge
Cascade cliffs - "reds"
Phelps Creek
Waving Tree - Italian varietals

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  1. Replying to my own post with supplemental notes from to reviews that seemed to be written by people who match my personal tastes that run the opposite of fruit & oak bombs:

    --Cascade cliffs: well received Estate Barolo, Mailbox Syrah.
    --Waving Tree: seems to be targeted at approachable affordable wines < $25. Probably not a target for us this trip due to shipping hassle.
    --Syncline: maybe a similar story to waving tree, good mentions of the Mourvedre & --Subduction Red blend.
    --Phelps Creek: looks like a definite must for us, I know I like a few of Sineann's pinots, one of which seems to come from Phelps Creek, and then there's the Celilo vineyard, which Ken Wright also gets chard from.
    --COR: not much info. A vague positive review of the Riesling.
    --Maryhill: I'm turned off by a zin with 1.6% RS. Should I rethink or just avoid?
    --Quenett: some very favorable mentions of the Viognier, lots of raisin references with the merlot, but could just be vintage specific

    2 Replies
    1. re: SteveG

      Before this gets kicked off the PNW board by CH, some thots:
      - Most tasting rooms will be open Fri, so no need to make appts
      - If you are going to get as far east as Cascade Cliff, don't miss Waving Tree
      - ditto Maryhill, but if you are turned off by the marketing vs winemaking vibe, cut your losses and move on
      -A GPS will be a big timesaver

      1. re: Steve K

        How would you describe Maryhill's winemaking style? I usually don't care for much from a winery where they make a Zinfandel with 1.6% RS, but if that's limited to a particular wine and they have a variety of unique wines, then I'd still be interested.

        Why would this be kicked off? Down in california, winery-related posts are part of the territory, so long as they're related to the wine or the food.

        In terms of open house weekends, have you been? Were any of the food pairings notable?