Savor the Fruit Loop Wine Celebration this weekend

The annual Fruit Loop Wine Celebration will take place June 22-23, showcasing the Hood River County Fruit Loop’s wines.

The Fruit Loop has a reputation not only for world-famous fruit orchards, but for a growing number of vineyards and wineries. The rich soils and growing conditions which result in legendary tree fruit are proving to be just as wonderful for producing excellent grapes — and award-winning winemakers are taking it from there.

Wine lovers are invited to meet the winemakers, discuss their art and taste their best. Tour vineyards and wineries, relax in beautiful tasting rooms and enjoy gorgeous scenery. Take advantage of special pricing and enjoy tasty treats during the Wine Celebration.

The Columbia Gorge Appellation became a federally designated grape-growing region in July 2004. The efforts of local winemakers have been recognized with long lists of awards. Visit all of the wineries during the Wine Celebration, as well as the many other farms and attractions of the Fruit Loop.

n Hood River Vineyards, the Gorge’s oldest winery, offers an invitation to taste a broad selection of wines to kick off the summer season. Try whites, reds, hard ciders, fruit ports and sherries.

n Housed in a 1910 Dutch Colonial home listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, The Gorge White House has wines from more than 25 Columbia Gorge wineries, as well as their own hard cider, and a variety of local craft beers. It also offers freshly prepared gourmet lunches, U-cut flowers and scenic double-mountain views.

n Come to Mt. Hood Winery for the wine; stay for the view. Taste its 2013 wine releases from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will also feature SmOkin’ John’s BBQ from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy its beautiful tasting room with its scenic patio and views of two mountains.

n Wy’East Vineyards will offer specials on its pinot noirs all weekend (buy one bottle, and get a second of equal or lesser value for half off). The $5 tasting fee will include a complimentary logo wine glass, too.

n Pheasant Valley Winery will be serving up a delightful day on June 23 during the Wine Celebration, with tours, wine tasting and wine sale specials.

n Viento’s “Born in the Gorge” winemaker applies 30 years of experience to producing elegant small-batch wines from estate and local vines. Viento is building a brand-new tasting room, set to open this year.

n Marchesi Vineyards and Winery is a boutique winery specializing in Italian varietals reminiscent of Piedmonte, Italy, where the founder was born and grew up. It grows Barbera, Dolcetto, pinot grigio and pinot noir grapes.

n Phelps Creek Vineyards is known for award-winning chardonnay, highly rated pinot noir, Gewurztraminer and more. Its tasting room is located on the grounds of the scenic Hood River Golf and Country Club.

n Cathedral Ridge Winery was named Oregon Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest in 2007. Located at the edge of Hood River, there’s a lovely tasting room, views of Mount Hood and picturesque vineyards.

Of course, the Wine Celebration is a Fruit Loop-wide event — and there are always fun activities and wonderful products available at farms and businesses all along the Fruit Loop. Find the harvest season’s first tasty berries and early produce, garden plants and flowers, gourmet food products, delicious baked goods, lavender and lavender products, cute alpacas and great yarns, and much more.

n The Wearable KnitWits Trunk Show will be at Cascade Alpacas’ Foothills Yarn & Fiber store. Find patterns that are cute, stylish or just downright silly — all designed to bring a smile. Just try to resist knitting the “baby monster” socks! Lots more fun projects, too. Then take time to visit the newest adorable alpaca babies.

n Unwind at Hood River Lavender while enjoying its most fragrant lavenders in bloom. Pick a bundle to take home, shop its gift shop for luxurious lavender products, relax and enjoy the scenic views from this lovely organic lavender farm.

n A flower sale takes place all weekend in the Rasmussen Farms greenhouses. Early summer vegetables and berries are available, too. Find everything needed for your planters and yard.

Most farms and attractions along the Fruit Loop are open from at least 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (wineries open at 11 a.m.). For complete information about the Fruit Loop Wine Celebration, for a listing of Fruit Loop farms, attractions and individual operating hours, and for an easy-to-follow map, visit

Printed copies are available at the Hood River County Visitors Center (Hood River exit 64 off Interstate 84), at area restaurants and lodging facilities and at Fruit Loop locations.

Have additional questions? Call the Fruit Loop info line at 541-386-7697.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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