“Our Grand Meander” Columbia Gorge AVA – Memaloose

Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge have a soft spot in my heart.  The Columbia Gorge is a world class venue for windsurfing and kiteboarding; I’ve been here many times windsurfing with a group of friends.  This time, however, Hood River was our stopover for a couple days to learn more about Memaloose and some other interesting wineries in Lyle, WA. Memaloose was a favorite winery from our trip last year and we joined their wine club.  This year, we wanted to get to know the folks at Memaloose better, so we arranged a more in-depth visit.

Memaloose is a collaboration between Rob McCormick and his son Brian and their families. Together, they manage vineyards on both sides of the river, all within the Columbia Gorge AVA.  Rob manages the Washington vineyards while Brian farms the Oregon vineyard, Idiot’s Grace.  In addition to wine grapes, Idiot’s Grace is a pear and cherry orchard.  At Memaloose, Rob handles the business side and Brian is the winemaker.  Quite a pair!

Memaloose has a beautiful tasting room at the mouth of the Klickitat river as it enters the Columbia.  On a nice day, you can enjoy their wines on the deck overlooking the rivers.  On the day we visited, we had threatening weather, not really a “sitting on the deck” kind of day.  No matter, our destination was Mistral Ranch, just a short drive from the tasting room on top of the bluffs overlooking the river.

Rob met us at the Memaloose Tasting Room, overlooking the Columbia River.

Mistral Ranch is the home of the winery and Washington side vineyards.  The winery itself is small but very efficiently used.  At Memaloose, they use little or no new oak in raising their wines, a feature we really like.

The winery is in a beautiful, rustic spot above the Columbia River.

The vineyards only take up a fraction of the property, so there is still a lot of open land.  The grapes have a commanding view of the Columbia River!  On a sunny day, there is a beautiful view of the expanse of the Columbia River with Mount Hood towering in the background.  Due to the clouds, we couldn’t enjoy the view of Mount Hood, but the Columbia was still amazing.

The vineyards up at Mistral Ranch look over the spectacular Columbia Gorge.  Mount Hood hides behind the clouds today.

Memaloose uses grapes exclusively from the Columbia Gorge AVA.  As it is much cooler here than more eastern areas of Washington, they were less than half way through crushing their 2012 vintage wines at our visit.  As you can see, the grapes are nearly ripe and just waiting for the decision to pick.

Memaloose grapes ready for picking.

The Idiot’s Grace vineyard is directly across from Mistral Ranch on the Oregon side of the Columbia.  You can see it off in the distance.

Idiot’s Grace vineyard is at the left side of the patch of green across the Columbia river.

Rob had to get back to work, so he invited us to hike around the ranch to see the vineyards.

Mistral Ranch has a commanding view of the Columbia river.

Hannah’s bench is one of the Mistral Ranch vineyards.  As you hike out to the bluffs, you can get a view down to the vineyard.  You can see how much the grapes have to struggle here!

Clifftop view down to Hannah’s Bench vineyard.

Dixie, the winery dog was our tour guide for the remainder of our visit.  She stayed with us the whole time; although she covered about ten times the ground we did!

Dixie was a great tour guide!

Memaloose’ slogan is “Wines for food, grapes from the Gorge.”  They really mean it.  Their wines really shine at the dinner table.  If your taste in wine runs toward a traditional “old world” approach, you might find these wines to be particularly compelling.  Generally priced between $20-30 per bottle, they also are well priced!

Memaloose wines are graceful companions at the dinner table.

Thanks to Rob McCormick for hosting us, and thanks to Memaloose for their wonderful wines!

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