Last weekend saw us finally get to the best part of the trip (for me!) and that was the wine tours.
Both tours were only half day adventures, so this blog will cover the Saturday tour, and because I get so long-winded, I will do a separate write-up for the Sunday tour.
We set out Saturday morning to find somewhere nice for breakfast as we weren’t being picked up until after lunch, and we walked down 3rd Avenue – past the Lan Su Chinese Gardens to the Bijou Cafe where we had a scrumptious breakfast!
After breakfast we wandered around the Saturday Markets (which operate every Saturday and Sunday) down by the riverside. There were lots of beautiful hand crafted items by local artisans, as well as numerous food carts offering lots of tempting snacks from various cuisines and of course, you can grab a beer while you’re browsing! (We have already purchased another suitcase to get all our goodies home, and we plan to return to the market this weekend before we leave to pick up a few more souvenirs!!)
We grabbed some pork empanadas from the market to bring home for lunch and grazed on them while waiting to be picked up for our wine tour. Yummo!!
OK, I know – I’m getting off-track when I should be talking about the wine tour! Our first tour was the Columbia Gorge Wine and Waterfalls – we set off from home with our tour guide/driver Lawrence and picked up another 4 passengers from their downtown hotel – nice young guys from Seattle, and we headed East along the Historic Columbia River Highway, following the Columbia River through the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. There is something like 70 waterfalls in this area, but thankfully we only visited 4 of them! The ones we did visit were really lovely, although it was quite cool in the shadow of the gorge, and the water cascading down the falls was extremely cold!!
The highest of the falls we visited was the Multnomah Falls – pictured below, and (believe it or not!) we walked all the way up to the Benson Bridge in the middle! It was paved the whole way thank heavens, but still a pretty steep walk. We actually made it up and back in 15 minutes, although my knees have been reminding me about it ever since!
Lawrence had hot coffee and snacks waiting for us when we got back from the walk up to the bridge, and we snacked in the car while we continued our drive up to the wineries. We did have a quick stop at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel to see the Wah Gwin Gwin Falls – a very pretty spot.
The first winery we visited was Cathedral Ridge Winery which had some lovely wines …. I picked up a bottle of “Necessity White” (because I only drink out of necessity! Hahaha – BOOM!) and Shane chose a bottle of Syrah – both very nice (and needless to say neither lasted very long!). From Cathedral Ridge we had a lovely view across to the snow capped Mount Adams in Washington State.
After leaving Cathedral Ridge we went to a look-out which had beautiful scenic views across to Mount Hood. We stopped for photos before continuing on to Hood River township, where we had more wine tastings before hitting the road back to Portland.
Mount Hood is quite spectacular, and can often be seen from many vantage points even in downtown Portland.
Our driver dropped us back downtown where we had a wonderful dinner at The Saucebox Restaurant – yummy modern asian cuisine – delicious! A great end to another fabulous day – I will cover the Willamette Valley tour we did on Sunday in another blog ……. Bye for now!