Wine and Dine along the Columbia River

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October 7, 2019

Happy Hour wine with a winemaker, evening stroll along the Columbia River, or dinner with a view of the river? All this and more awaits you at The Lodge at Columbia Point.

We opted for dinner at Drumheller’s Food and Drink. The restaurant is named for Tom Drumheller and  began his Hall of Fame career with with his partner Patrick Nofield with  The Light House Inn, located in Cannon Beach.

After building five other resort hotels in Oregon and Washington, along with numerous restaurants and vacation townhomes, Tom was inducted into the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University’ inaugural Hall of Fame in March of 2017. He began work on The Lodge at Columbia Point but sadly died before he was able to see the completion of his vision when the Lodge opened just weeks after his death in the summer of 2017. His signature phrase, “It will be fun!” can be seen on plaques around the beautiful property. We met for drinks with Wendy and her husband, Fred. Wendy’s passion for the Lodge was contagious as she told us about her own 30 years in the hospitality business and many of the years working with the lodging properties owned by Tom. Her management skill is based on servant leadership, coupled with a lot of love for the 48 employees that she manages. And judging from the warm and welcoming staff – it is a style that works.

Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula

Speaking of dinner, ours was waiting for us in Drumheller’s Food & Drink. We started with a tasty and fresh roasted-beet salad with arugula and spiced pepitas dressed in vinaigrette. The main course of filet for Michael and pan-seared duck for me did not disappoint. Michael declared that the beef, served with gorgonzola butter from nearby Valencia Farms, was the best steak he has ever had! And my duck, which came with peppered polenta, kale, and heirloom tomato, was tender, rich, and yummy. For wine, we chose the Sheridan Vineyard’s Mystique – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. A killer wine – sourced from the Columbia Basin AVA – it paired perfectly with both entrées. With a beautiful deep ruby color, the wine had notes of black current, white chocolate, wood smoke, and tobacco. With a silky texture and perfect balance, the Mystique has undoubtedly earned its 94-point score by the Wine Advocate. Finally, the dessert was house-made fresh peach sorbet - a refreshing end to a fantastic meal. After dinner, Michael walked part of the Riverfront Trail that goes seven miles along the Columbia.

Riverfront Trail along the Columbia River

Described as a “stunning 82 bedroom, custom-designed, riverfront dream home”, the hospitality offered by The Lodge is Hall of Fame worthy. Each of the rooms is named after a local winery, with lovely views and delightful amenities.

Vineyards at the Lodge at Columbia Point

Want Hall of Fame Wine? A ten-minute drive from the Lodge, you will find yourself in the famed Red Mountain Wine AVA. It really isn’t a mountain, more of a small hill and the red color of the native grass is seen only during late fall. Nevertheless, the AVA produces some truly delicious wines. Most of the 2,227 vineyard acres are found in the warm southwest-facing slope, The AVA is known mostly for its Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab), which comprises about 2,043 acres. Once a backwater eddy during the time of the pre-historic Missoula floods, the soil combination of sand, silt, and loam is ideal for growing vinifera grapes. The tiny Red Mountain AVA is the smallest appellation in the state but has the warmest temperatures. The grapes grown here have a rich fruit character, great aromatics, and full tannins, creating wines with amazing structure, intensity, and sophistication.

One of our favorite stops in the AVA was Col Solare. Col Solare is the result of a partnership of wine giants Chateau Ste Michelle and Italy’s Marches Antinori, whose family roots in the Italian wine business go back to 1385.

Red wine grapes

Our tour included a tasting stroll through the vineyard, munching on a variety of Cab grapes grown from different clones. It was amazing how different each clone tasted and gave us a greater appreciation of the art of winemaking.

We headed back to the tasting room for a fascinating vertical tasting experience, which means different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery. We enjoyed both the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Cabs, each distinct and delicious. The 2014 boasted a 94+ points from The Wine Advocate and 94 points from Wine & Spirits. The nose was great, with aromas of dark fruit and subtle taste notes of vanilla. The tannins are well balanced, and the wine had a beautiful long finish.

Next up was the 2015 Cab, also given very high scores of 94 points from Jeb Dunnuck and 93 points from jamessuckling.com.

With grapes sourced from five different vineyards, the 2015 was rich and balanced, with a nose of berries and dark chocolate. Beginning with taste hints of vanilla and spice, it’s smooth finish is a lingering taste of cocoa and anise. Truly an excellent taste adventure!

We then left the Cab and moved on to the Collectors Society’s beautiful red blend. The Collectors Society wines are available only to the wine club members, and indeed suggests the old tag line “membership has its privileges.” The wine is a delightful blend of Cab Sauvignon (57%), Cab Franc (36%), and Carménère (7%). It truly was a privilege to taste and a lovely finish to our visit.

We were tempted to visit more of the iconic wineries in Red Mountain AVA, but it was time to head home. We will return! One, of many, reasons to return would be to experience one of their famous Winemakers' Dinners at Drumheller’s Food & Drink.

 

Editorial disclosure: travel and accommodations were generously provided. 

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