Though its once purely utilitarian features have been repurposed as a modern industrial-chic wine bar, Sunshine Mill Winery is still a monument to turn-of-the-century agriculture. The gravity mill’s belt-drive system, for instance, is still wholly intact, and its massive gears hang above the heads of sommeliers pouring Quenett and Copa Di Vino wines in the lounge area. And atop the structure that still houses the mill’s Thomas Edison–designed electric generator, musicians regularly perform to the crowds on the alfresco dining area below.
Situated on a 54-acre plot of land near the Columbia River, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum chronicles thousands of years of the area’s natural and cultural history. The 48,200-square-foot facility—which received an American Institute of Architects Honor Award—features interactive and multimedia exhibits that let guests study everything from the volcanic activity and floods that created the gorge to its wildlife. Guests can stand in the shadow of a life-size, 13-foot mammoth in the Ice Age exhibit or hide from its intimidating tusks under a canvas tent modeled after the one used by Lewis and Clark.
As the official interpretive center of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, the center celebrates the area’s indigenous flora and fauna while working to preserve them. Five acres of indigenous plants host turtles, ducks, geese, songbirds, and other native wildlife, on which guests spy as they stroll through the nature walk. At the raptor exhibit, visitors can come face-to-beak with various birds of prey, including a bald eagle, a great horned owl, and a red-tailed hawk. The Discovery Center and Museum hosts frequent educational programs and tour groups that detail ways to protect the area’s biodiversity without having to marry a tree.
Taking a scenic tour aboard Mount Hood Railroad is like stepping back in time. You can almost smell the freshly picked fruit and milled wood that grows just beyond the train's windows as it rolls through the Hood River Valley—products that have been carried along the 22-mile track since the Oregon Lumber Company built the short-line railroad in 1906. Passengers turn back the clock even further during old-timey Western train-robbery trips, reliving the golden age of rail travel while helping the sheriff to foil an attempted heist.
The train's cars afford premium views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams, as well as brunch and dinner service. According to The Railroad Nation, the railroad's newly renovated 1955 Pullman club car combines historic nostalgia with such modern amenities as a sound system and dance floor, making it an ideal spot for special events or reenactments of Jesse James's signature line dance.
"Come get naked with us." It sounds like an indecent proposal, but it's really a call to action from Naked Winery?specifically a call to grab some of the cheeky winery's offerings. Its winemakers use grapes grown in both hot and dry climates and cool marine climates in Oregon and Washington to produce vintages such as Foreplay chardonnay and the sweet red Blazing Straddle.
The masterminds behind the winery, the Barringer and Michalec families, gave their creations such sassy names partly because of the wines' ability to seduce palates. But they also did it because they loved the idea of couples sipping a glass at night and sharing a laugh over the names and saucy descriptions on the label.
Atop 30 acres of complex volcanic soils, Robert Morus tends his collection of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes planted against a backdrop of towering, snow-capped mountains. Embracing the labor-intensive process necessary to harvest flavorful grapes, Morus and his staff allow vines to only grow a single grape cluster per shoot. This technique gives each fruity morsel an intense flavor character and prevents grapes from getting overcrowded, jumping off the vine, and joining a troupe of singing raisins. First planted in 1989, the plots now fill sustainably-tended vineyards where visitors can come to learn more about the wine-making process during tours, wine tastings, and other events.
Patrons headed to Wind Rivers Cellars must first make a two-mile drive up Spring Creek Road, whose densely forested surroundings lead many first-timers to believe that they've lost their way. But, the doubt soon turns to awe as they arrive at the vineyard and the tree line breaks into a cloud-topped view of Mt. Hood in the distance. The lush scenery complements the winery's 12 wine varieties, each crafted from grapes grown in the Columbia River Gorge and Klickitat County. The winery is owned by winemaker and fourth-generation Washingtonian Joel Goodwillie, who pays careful to attention to environmental practices when managing the estate. During their stay, visitors can peruse the racks of rustic barrels, wander the rows of green grapevines, and sample the wines in a tasting room operated with a standing ban on jazz and grape juggling.