The Columbia Gorge

One of the most beautiful and historic geographic regions in the United States is the Columbia River Gorge. The stunning scenery features a dramatic climate shift from the temperate rainforest of Cascade Locks to the high desert at The Dalles, all occurring in about 50 miles. Fir and spruce give way to pines and scrub oak, and eventually to nothing but tall grass as one continues to move eastward. Microclimates arise throughout. This unique growing region allows us to embrace a trinity of different growing region varietals including grapes from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace. Along with the microclimates is a unique and constantly changing terroir. Prehistoric lava flows, repeated cataclysmic floods and glaciers have carved the bones of the Columbia River Gorge into the breathtaking scenery you see today.Using the highest quality fruit grown from one of the most unique growing regions in the world, we proudly offer our distinctive and elegant wines.


Ask anyone of our extreme sports enthusiasts, the Columbia Gorge and Columbia Valley include a 40 mile stretch which experiences dramatic temperature and rainfall changes. The result, distinct microclimates that almost perfectly duplicate four of the world’s greatest grape-growing regions, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Rhine.

It is our good fortune to be located less than thirty minutes from all four of these marvelous microclimates. There literally is, no other place like this in the world!

Bordeaux Region and Oregon’s Columbia Valley AVA

Varietals Produced: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Bordheauxd Red, Rockstar Red

The Bordeaux region is among the oldest and is the second largest wine producing area in the world releasing over 700 million bottles each year. The even tempered climate produces modest temperatures and an average yearly rainfall of 33 inches, very similar to the nooks and crannies of the Hood River Valley. Terroir also plays an important role for both the Bordeaux regions in France and the parallel growing regions in the Columbia Valley. Terroir refers to the qualities attributed to the varietals based on the geography of the vineyards. This can mean the soil, the moisture, the farming technique, or any factors that affect the area. In the Bordeaux region, the premium grapes tend to hail from vineyards near the river. Likewise, the vineyards in the Columbia Valley benefit from the nearby river and the quality of soil.

Big, bold reds make up the majority of Bordeaux wines. Most common are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Great Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also flourish in the Hood River Valley with rich, beautiful colors and bold tastes. Bordeaux wineries, or Chateaux, choose more often than not to create blends, and the most famous pair is Cabernet/Merlot. On that note, our Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot is a 50/50 blend of premium grapes from the Columbia Valley. Together they represent the boldness of the Bordeaux region with a touch of Columbia Valley charm. Visit us to learn more.

The Burgundy Region and Oregon’s Columbia Gorge AVA

Varietals Produced: Bangsund Pinot Noir, Dampier Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Reserves, Necessity Red, Chardonnay, Chardonnay Reserve

The Burgundy region is nestled in eastern France along the banks of the Saone River, a tributary of the famous Rhone River. With very cold winters and parching hot summers, Burgundy is toted as the most terroir focused wine region in the world. This same Burgundy climate is scattered along the Columbia Gorge tucked away by the Columbia River. Similar to the Burgundy region, the Columbia Gorge experiences sporadic weather ranging from unpredictable snow, rain, frost, and even heat. All of these factors affect harvest and creates a lot of variance from vintage to vintage. Burgundian varietals require a lot of attention and care for optimum results, but they are well worth the effort.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are both very popular in the Burgundy region of France. With Cathedral Ridge wines, we strive to represent these varietals in their true Burgundian styles. Fortunate to live in a climate and geographical setting conducive to growing premium Burgundian varietals, we carefully complete each step of the winemaking process to ensure the best results. With Michael Sebastiani’s master palate, Robb, John, Francisco and Tyler’s work in the winery and the field, and the efforts of the whole team these wines receive the attention and care required. The result is a spicy, elegant, and ready to drink but ready to age Pinot Noir.

Located on the north side of the Columbia River sits Dampier Vineyard in Underwood Mountain, WA. Much higher in elevation, approximately 1100 feet, this vineyard benefits from south facing slopes with great exposure to the sun and cool gorge winds throughout the growing season. This is a true Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir. Visit us to learn more.

The Rhine Regions and Oregon’s Columbia Gorge AVA

Varietals Produced: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Halbtrocken

The Rhine River flows through southwest Germany along vineyards that boast the most northerly location in the world just below the 50th parallel. The river feeds a plethora of micro-climates fit for vines. The best grapes are said to come from vineyards closer to the river. The reflected sunlight adds that extra touch of heat for the best ripening. Similarly, the Rhine style grapes in the Columbia Valley grow near bodies of water that feed the grapes and reflect extra sunlight. Terroir, or the unique geography of a specific vineyard, plays an important role in the Rhine growing region, as it does it here.

Rhine wines vary from dry, semi-sweet, to sweet depending on the winery and the vineyard. Riesling is one of the most well known Rhine varietals, and can embody sweet, fruit forward flavors as well as dry, lighter qualities. Here at Cathedral Ridge, we have produced sweet Rieslings, Dry Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, and Pinot Gris all in the Rhine style with a touch of the Columbia Valley. After locating the closest, premium grapes, everyone does their part to ensure the grapes make it to bottle with the utmost of care and attention. The 2013 Cathedral Ridge Riesling exhibits the lightly sweetened flavors of fruit with a refreshingly crisp finish. Visit us to learn more.

The Rhone Region and Oregon’s Columbia Valley AVA

Varietals Produced: Syrah, Syrah Reserve

Covering over 500 miles of Switzerland and France, the northern Rhone region’s long winters and warm summers allow for a wide variety of grapes to flourish. Cold air blows in from the west allowing for longer days of cool temperatures followed by days of extreme heat. Because of the late spring and fall fogs, most Rhone vineyards are situated southward to reap the most benefits from the sunlight. This same pattern occurs 20 miles east of us in the Columbia Gorge. Here we endure similar long, cold, harsh winters, but bask in the summer heat. The grapes witness the same weather pattern, and receive the most benefit from their southern orientation and steep slopes.

Notably, only red varietal permitted in the Rhone region is Syrah, which happens to be one of our biggest, boldest award winners. Because of this rule, Rhone region wineries benefit from the ability to concentrate on one of the most tauted grapes; a varietal that provokes a deep passion and desire for deeper and more complex wines. With flavors of white pepper, plums, blackberries, chocolate, and spice, the Rhone Syrah attracts a large following. The Syrah grape flourishes in the Columbia Valley area. And, if cared for correctly, its vibrancy will jump out with every glass and age to perfection. Our Syrah has historically attracted the most attention, pulling in many reviews and awards including Double Gold in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Visit us to learn more.

We love to make new friends and would like to introduce you to this amazing region!

Below are some of our favorite links from the area. Check them out and let them know we sent you!

Hood River Chamber
Columbia Gorge Winegrowers
Wines Northwest
Martins Gorge Tours
Travel Oregon
Columbia Gorge Wine Tours