Theo enjoys celebrating her birthday by taking a day trip somewhere sun might possibly be found.  Since her birthday is October 4 and we live in Oregon you can imagine how much of a challenge this can be.  This year the best shot was to go inland so Theo selected Hood River as our destination.  So we packed dog, food, and ourselves into the Jeep and headed off for a day wine tasting.  Before I say anything about wineries I should mention that the day was a success as we did find an adequate amount of sun and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We visited five wineries:  Marchesi Vineyards, Phelps Creek Vineyards, Pleasant Valley Vineyard & Winery, Mt. Hood Winery, Viento Wines, and Wy’ East Vineyards (listed in the order visited).  Marchesi was the only winery we had visited previously and was on the list at Theo’s request.  My lovely wife made a great call!

I first heard about Marchesi Vineyards when I visited Cathedral Ridge Winery, also in Hood River, a couple years ago.  I had time for one more stop before heading home and they recommended Marchesi.  I was not disappointed!   Marchesi specializes in Italian varietals and they make their wines with true passion.  Winemaker Franco Marchesi is a native of Italy where he learned to create his wines the “Italian way” yet has lived and worked the wine industry in the United States (California and Oregon) long enough for his wines to express wonderful characteristics emerging from both cultures.  There are a few other wineries in the region that do Italian varietals but the wines produced by Marchesi tantalize the pallet with clear expression of the varietal fruit then finish with nearly perfect acidity (which I greatly value in a wine).  You can find wines at Marchesi for just about any occasion ranging from the lighter Natal Dolcetto (current vintage 2009) to the more fruity Achille Barbera (tasted both the 2007 and 2009).  We tasted several wines but the star of the show for me was the 2007 Achille Barbera (named for Franco Marchesi’s grandfather).  This wine was as close to the “perfect” Barbera as I have ever come.  What was even more surprising about this wine was that I believe this wine was the first produced from young vines.  As good as the Marchesi wines are after tasting you will be shocked to find that only one of their wines, their Piasj Red Table Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah) is priced over $30!

For me wine tasting is really a wholistic experience (as you have probably gathered if you have read my previous posts).  I need to enjoy the people and the atmosphere as much as the wine.  My enjoyment of my visit to a tasting room has as much to do with my wine purchases as the quality of the wine itself.  Marchesi does not disappoint in this area either.  The tasting room is small but has outdoor seating where you will be serviced as if you were standing at their counter.  What was really cool was that it started to sprinkle a bit and Franco Marchesi himself came outside and opened large umbrellas over the tables himself to keep his visitors dry.  He also delivered to our table a large plate of freshly cut bread and salami to enjoy with our wine.  What is not to like about this?  This seems really European….and wonderful….to me.  Even though they were a bit busy Franco and his tasting-room staff took time to converse with us, learn a bit about us, and treated us as old friends.  I’ve been to Marchesi three times and have been treated this way all three times so I assume this is simply the way that they do business.

If I had room in my budget for another wine club it would likely be Marchesi’s.  Don’t think I will ever tire of visiting them.  If you are anywhere near Hood River it will certainly be worth your time to stop by and experience them for yourself.