Happy Easter – Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Happy Easter from our neck of the woods to yours! Wishing everyone a wonderful day filled with friends, family, and chocolate bunnies.

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This flower is balsamroot, which is blooming prolifically in the eastern reaches of the Columbia Gorge right now. The wind was blowing pretty hard last weekend when this was taken. I think it almost looks like the petals are waving at me.

Categories: Flowers, Spring, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hood River Blossom Update

I am still getting a lot of questions about the orchard blossoms in the Hood River area, most notably the current status of the blooms. I was lucky enough to spend two days in the area last week, Thursday and Sunday.

On Thursday, I stumbled upon this bunch of blossoming peach trees near Packer Orchards along Highway 35. By the time I returned on Sunday, the blossoms were already disappearing.

Mount Adams through the peach blossoms on Thursday.

Mount Adams through the peach blossoms on Thursday.

Tip: Make sure to stop in the farm store here. They have a large selection of fresh baked good including a HUGE selection of cookies. Their marionberry cream cinnamon roll was  to die for.

On both Thursday and Sunday, the best area to view blooms was near Panorama Point, where you will also find the iconic red barn that shows up in many pictures this time of year. The area was swarming with photographers like bees to blooms.

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The “Red Barn” on Sunday

The trees in the area near Odell are just starting to “pop”. By the big Hood River Blossom festival this weekend, depending I weather conditions, the area should be nearing peak.

Higher elevations of the valley in the area near Parkdale are still not seeing many blooms, but the BBQ at Apple Valley is still delicious as always. Make sure to stop in for some cherry wood smoked BBQ if you are passing through.

 

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Mount Hood Sunset in a Wine Glass

“If your eyes are blinded with your worries, you cannot see the beauty of the sunset.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Is there any better way to enjoy a Mount Hood sunset than with a glass of Oregon Pinot Gris?

Enjoying a Mount Hood View

Enjoying a Mount Hood View

I am proud to announce that this image will be used in an upcoming print ad campaign for Clackamas County’s Tourism Bureau, Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory.

Like Wahkeena Exposures on Facebook to stay updated on all of my latest news, along with information on visiting Mount Hood and the rest of Travel Oregon’s 7 Wonders!

Categories: "7 Wonders of Oregon", Mount Hood, Oregon's Mount Hood Territory, Random Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Wine Releases at Phelps Creek Vineyards

“Wine is bottled poetry.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Named for a small stream that flows past the vineyard, along with the close knit community that lives in the area, Phelps Creek Vineyards are perched on a hillside just outside Hood River, Oregon. The small, “boutique” winery focuses on producing estate grown Pinot Noir and Dijon clone Chardonnay.

Welcome to Phelps Creek!

Welcome to Phelps Creek!

Among their many accolades are consistently scores of 90 or above by such publications as Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. Their 2008 Chardonnay was also named Oregon’s Wine of the Year.

When I was presented with the opportunity to visit the vineyard, sample the newest releases before the public, and barrel taste I jumped at the chance. My hosts for the day – Bob Morus, Founder and President along with Alexandrine Roy, Director of Winemaking and vineyard pup Rosie.

Bob, Alexandrine and Rosie

Bob, Alexandrine and Rosie

My wine country experience started with breakfast on the deck overlooking the vineyard. Some may say 10:00 in the morning may be too early to start tasting wine. Certainly not Alexandrine, who had just recently arrived from Burgundy, France, where she also oversees winemaking operations. Personally, I think that Chardonnay pairs quite nicely with cinnamon rolls and scones. Plus is there really a bad time to drink good wine?

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Breakfast served with a view

As we enjoyed breakfast (and the INCREDIBLE view) Bob and Alexandrine gave what one might call a master’s class in this history of Oregon wine growing and  making. I was flooded with information, from the origin’s of the vines, properties of the soil, the barrel aging process, etc. My favorite quote of the morning, courtesy of Bob – “Grapes are like kindergarteners. Everyone does better if there is no touching.”

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After our meal, we moved on to the wine aging room to taste straight from the barrels. As this was a completely new experience to me, I have to say I was pretty darn excited about this part of the morning. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. To put it in very simplistic terms, what I tasted was a pretty incredible wine, with subtle undertones of grape juice.

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Barrel Tasting in the Aging Room

The new releases tasted were:

  • 2012 “Lynette” Estate Chardonnay ($32 retail)
  • 2012 Estate Pinot Gris ($29 retail)
  • 2011 Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir ($29 retail)
  • 2011 “Regina” Pommard Clone Pinot Noir ($49 retail)

The “Lynette” Chardonnay was named for Bob’s fiance. The “Regina” Pinot Noir was named for Bob’s mother, Regina and Alexandrine’s mother Regine, respectively. What a lucky group of ladies to have such tasty wines named in their honor.

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My husband often jokes that I am a wine “consumer” rather than a “connoisseur.” When I walk into a tasting room and am asked “Red or white?”, I usually say give me a little bit of both. So it was really hard to pick a favorite. When you taste a Phelps Creek wine, what really comes through is a wine made with exceptional fruit and passion by masters of their craft.

Enjoying my day at the vineyard

Enjoying my day at the vineyard

I was invited to return that afternoon for their annual spring Wine Club event, also at the vineyard. Members were treated to the same tasting experience I enjoyed earlier in the day. As bonus, after their barrel tasting, they got to vote on which vintage will be bottled next year. Membership certainly has it’s privileges!

So by now you want to try their wines for yourself, right?

Take a drive through the orchards to their tasting room located at the Hood River Golf Course. Tasting fees are refunded with any wine purchase. Trust me, you are going to want to take at least one bottle home with you.

Want to have your own day in the vineyard like mine?

During the summer months,  a variety of “Wine Country Experiences” are offered – such as “Yoga in the Vineyard”, instructional tours with a professional photographer, or the “Ultimate Experience” of food and wine pairings as you stroll through the vines. See the Phelps Creek Vineyards website for all the details and how to book your own incredible day in the vineyard.

Can’t make it to the vineyard?

No worries! Contact the vineyard to find out where their wines are available near you!

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Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this “Wine Country Experience” was provided to me free of charge as a special guest of the vineyard. Contrary to popular belief, free wine doesn’t taste any better than that for which you pay.

 
Categories: Dining and Food, Hood River, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ask Oregon – Hood River Blossoms

As the Travel Oregon “Ask Oregon” local expert for the Mount Hood and Columbia Gorge region, I am always asked fantastic questions by travelers planning adventures around Oregon. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been getting a lot of people asking about the fruit tree blossoms in the Hood River valley. Most often – When are the trees going to bloom?

Pear Blossoms

Pear Blossoms

Based on current conditions, the blooms are still a week or two away.

Based on my experience, the trees in the lower valley (closest to the town of Hood River) bloom first. Don’t worry about getting there right “on time”. If the lower valley starts to “peter out” the upper valley (Parkdale) will still be going strong. Which was exactly what happened to me when I visited last year.

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Plan Your Visit:

The best time to plan your visit is during the Blossom Fest, which happens every year during the third weekend in April. Many of the businesses along the “Fruit Loop” are planning special events not only to coincide with the festival, but throughout the month of April.

Note: Click here to download a copy of the official Blossom Fest and Springtime Guide to the Gorge.

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Here are a few of my favorites:

Spring Flower and Garden Days

Rasmussen Farms

Open daily beginning April 11th, 9am to 5pm

Featuring a large selection of spring flowers, herbs and plants for your garden.

Spring Wine Tasting

Mt Hood Winery

April 19-20, 11am to 5pm

Taste their new spring releases!

$5 per wine flight

Apple Valley Country Store’s Dessert Party

Apple Valley Country Store

April 19-20, 10am to 5pm

Cherry smoked BBQ ribs, followed up with fresh baked pies and cobbler for dessert.

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Have your own question you would like to “Ask Oregon”?

On Twitter, tweet your question and use the hashtag #AskOR

On Facebook, ask on Travel Oregon’s wall.

Or ask through Email on the Travel Oregon website

 

Categories: Ask Oregon, Columbia River Gorge, Flowers, Hood River, Oregon, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment