I visited Maryhill Winery and Cathedral Ridge Winery during a post-conference tour of the 2018 Wine Blogger’s Conference.
The scenic drive to the two wineries alone was worth the Sunday afternoon trip and was a great way to finish off a trip before catching a red-eye flight out of PDX.
Here’s what I experienced at each winery.
Maryhill Winery: Come for the Wine, Stay for the Concert
Maryhill Winery is a family-owned winery located in Goldendale, Washington next to the Columbia River.
A visit here is accompanied by stunning views as you approach the winery and pass through the Columbia Gorge.
Because I visited during harvest season, I got to see what happens behind the scenes including the resulting grape pomace (grape skins and seeds) that remains after grapes have been press for their juice.
Maryhill produces over 80,000 cases of wine a year including a fun sparkling wine which I sampled upon arrival.
You can find over 50 wines produced by the winery from the 30 grape varietals including some under-the-radar varietals such as cinsault.
The winemaker, Richard Batchelor led us through tasting of some Maryhill’s wines including their 2016 Chardonnay which I particularly enjoyed.
Maryhill invites interns from around the world to intern at their winery and see Washington-state winemaking up close.
You can find the flags from all the countries interns have come from in the fermentation room.
In addition to the draw of their wines, Maryhill welcomes over 75,000 visitors a year in part due to their outdoor concert arena.
Even when there are no large concerts, the winery has live performances on the outdoor terrace which you can enjoy with your glass of wine as I did.
Maryhill is definitely a major winery to include on your list when you visit this area of Washington state.
Cathedral Ridge Winery: Making Wine for the 70% of Their Wine Buyers Who are Women
Cathedral Ridge Winery knows who their customers are, and they make elegant wines to match.
Rob Bell, the owner and cellarmaster of Cathedral Ridge led us wine bloggers on a tour of their winemaking facility.
He noted that 4 out 5 of their wines are bought by people who walk through
their winery door who aren’t from Washington or Oregon.
Bell also explained that, “Cathedral Ridge makes wine for the 70% of their wine buyers who are women.”
Bell and master winemaker, Michael Sebastiani, focus on making floral, non-extracted wines with a judicious use of oak rather than big fruit-and-tannin bombs.
Their wines benefit from indigenous yeast fermentation which contributes to the depth of flavor.
In addition to the 5 acres of vineyards which Cathedral Ridge sits on, they also pull in fruit from 27 other vineyards in the area.
Bell himself is quite the character with a straight-talk, no-nonsense, BS-free style that is endearing.
Both their library and current-release offerings showed quite well.
When you visit the 100% female-managed tasting room, you’ll get to taste bright, lovely, floral wines that impress with flavor depth rather than over-manipulation and oak.
And you can sample Cathedral Ridge’s wines while sitting outside and taking in a lovely mountain view.