Discover Eastern Oregon Wine Region: Columbia Snake

| November 4, 2011 | Reply

EasternOregon Vineyard Grapes

Plateaus and valleys, winding fast rivers and steep gorges, the varied primeval landscape make a trip though the Easter Oregon Wine Country a memorable event even if you are not a wine lover. Bring your taste buds and your camera as you tour the area.

Large in area, the Eastern Oregon Wine Region is made up of three distinct areas, they are the Colombia Valley, the Snake River Valley and Walla Walla Valley. The Colombia River and its world famous often photographed Gorge is the most famous of these sub-regions, followed by the Snake Rive Valley and then Walla Walla Valley.

It wasn’t until July, 2004 that the Colombia Gorge received designation as a distinct wine growing area, formally known as an American Vita-cultural Area and abbreviated as AVA. The Colombia Gorge has long been famous for its other fruit such as apples, pairs and cherries. But this young appellation is famous for its excellent and award wines that include: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc and Syrah.

Cultural Oregon has picked a winery or vineyard in each of the three valleys. Please let us know if you visit or have a favorite of your own.

Columbia River

Pheasant Valley Winery is a great spot for wine tasting. The tasting room is cozy, sort of like a den. It has a fireplace for cool weather warmth and stuffed pheasants on the wall that watch as you taste. Comfortable seating in wicker furniture is available for relaxing to the piped in smooth jazz or soft rock. Pheasant Valley is one of the first certified organic wineries in Oregon and has a large selection of wines. The tasting room is open weekdays 11 AM to 5 PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 4 PM. The winery has won numerous gold and silver medals for several of their wines. Wine tours are available three ways, self guided, deluxe tour with a tasting and canapés at the end and a horseback tour.

Pheasant Valley also has an on site Bed and Breakfast. Perfect for a quick getaway!

Snake River Valley

Gilstrap Brothers Winery  is a small winery with a large selection of wines that includes:

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Syrah
  • Sangiovese
  • Malbec
  • Red Table Wine
  • Reisling Blush

The tasting room is open 11 – 4 on Wednesday through Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday. Out-of-towners and groups can make reservations for tasting and tours by calling 866-568-4200. The vineyards are some three thousand feet in elevation and in high northern latitudes. Experts told Ron Gilstrap that wine groups were not suited to the climate. Of course, the experts were wrong. Ron and his wife started a small hobby vineyard that produced a nice harvest that made drinkable wine. As he applied himself to learning all that he could about wine, he turned a hobby into a thriving winery.

A warm country ambiance permeates the tasting room and the wines are excellent. Cultural Oregon suggests a visit to this hidden gem.

Walla Walla Valley

Pepper Bridge Winery is world renowned for its excellent wines produced using sustainable agriculture techniques. Recently, Wine & Spirits magazine called them a Top 100 Winery worldwide , and Food & Wine magazine named their 2007 Merlot The Best of the Year. Many wines of many vintages have been awarded over 90 points by expert rating sources. The tasting room is adjacent to the winery. You will enjoy extraordinary views of the vineyard and the Blue Mountains while you enjoy some of their award winning wines. It is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. Though no reservations are needed, groups larger than 8 should call ahead: 509-525-6502. Tours are available and reservations are required.

Other Eastern Oregon Places To Visit

The Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon is a stop you owe your kids after schlepping them to wine tastings and viewing sumptuous panoramas. They have been bored and this is the perfect place for them to use up some pent-up energy. The ride home will be better. Trust us, Cultural Oregon does have your interests at heart.

The museum is hands-on and interactive with a wealth of activities and learning experiences that the entire family will enjoy. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm. The CMEO can be found at 400 South Main Street, Pendleton, OR 97801 

Visit Underground Pendleton  and see the historical city beneath a city. One hundred years ago, Chinese laborers lived below the city in their own underground environment. You will see, among other fascinating things, a Chinese laundry, legal businesses, a red light district, a Chinese jail and a 1920’s speakeasy/card room from the prohibition era. The tour is a blast and definitely worth the trip to Pendleton!

Dorothea Lane in Oregon is a photo exhibit being held through December 23, 201 at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon. Lane was a photographer who documented the plight of America during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is a truly amazing exhibit that captures both the despair and hope of that time.

Additional Eastern Oregon attraction and excursions are available to readers of Cultural Oregon.


Topics on this page: Eastern Oregon Wine, Eastern Oregon Wine Region, Oregon Wine Country, Places To Visit In Eastern Oregon


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Category: Explore Eastern Oregon, Food + Drink, Wineries

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