Great wine regions can be found across the world, but none quite like the Columbia River Gorge. Where else can you pair a delicate viognier or an earthy zinfandel with some of globe’s best windsurfing, hiking, river rafting, and biking? If your every weekend—even one spent tasting wines—needs action, head east, not south.
Fill your picnic basket in Hood River with bread from Knead (102 Fifth St) and cheeses and snacks from South Bank Kitchen (404 Oak St; 541-386-9876). Our favorites? Emmi’s cave-aged gruyère and inspired sides such as beet salad dressed with mandarin oranges, fennel, and chevre.
You can’t taste this region’s wines without crossing the Columbia into Washington for Rhône-style pours at Syncline Winery. James and Poppie Mantone have one acre of vineyards on their property and 24 in eastern Washington’s Horse Heaven Hill and Columbia River Gorge AVAs; they produce 5,000 cases a year of mostly Rhône varietals, such as mourvèdre, roussanne, and viognier. Thur–Sun 11–6; 111 Balch Rd, Lyle; 509-365-4361; synclinewine.com
Not far from Syncline, the moderate one-and-a-quarter-mile hike to the top of Catherine Creek brings you to a superlative picnic spot. (Keep an eye out for poison oak.) The views of the Gorge, Oregon’s lush northern edge, and Mound Hood’s majestic peak are jaw-dropping. www.fs.fed.us
Have dinner at Nora’s Table in Hood River. The eclectic, highly localized menu offers dozens of small plates as well as entrées (like Goan seafood curry with rockfish, prawns, scallops, and mussels) all dreamed up by Nathan Morgan, former chef of Portland’s popular Indian restaurant Vindalho. Tue–Sat; 110 Fifth St, Hood River; 541-387-4000; norastable.com
The stylishly updated Celilo Inn sits on a bluff above The Dalles with commanding views of one of the planet’s most dramatic meetings of man and nature: the Gorge and the gargantuan Dalles Dam. Ask about the Spirit of Adventure package, which includes a one-night stay and a white-water rafting trip down the Deschutes or White Salmon river. 3550 E Second St, The Dalles; 541-769-0001; celiloinn.com