Underwood Mountain Vineyards is located in Underwood, Washington. It is located in south central Washington in the Columbia River Gorge. The vineyards are directly 3 miles north of Hood River, Oregon, 1 hour driving time east of the Portland International Airport and 1½ hours driving time southwest of Yakima, Washington. The hillside vineyards are within the Columbia Gorge Appellation which spans both Oregon and Washington and they are at an elevation of about 1100 feet with a southeast to south-southeasterly exposure.
Underwood Mountain is an extinct volcano. The vineyard is planted on a light-reddish volcanic sandy, clay loam called the “Underwood Series”. The well drained, deep soil is the result of wind blown loess that have accumulated for eons over a layer of pillow basalt boulders. These boulders range from grapefruit size to Volkswagen size and are on top of a 200-foot thick ancient basalt flow. Soil pH is generally around 6.1 with good nutrient levels and trace minerals. These soils range up to 60 feet deep in areas, perk well and drain quickly after showers.
The climate and area are reminiscent of Alsace, the Mosul River valley, and the banks of the Danube River valley. Our closest town is Bingen, Washington. The town of Bingen (pronounced BIN-jen) was named after Bingen-on-the-Rhine in Germany due to its view down the Columbia Gorge. In the 1860’s, the Suksdorf’s, a prominent local German immigrant family, and owners of the historic “Bingen Haus” named the town after their families home in Bingen, Germany which was along the Rhine River.
The landscape is enormously varied and is one of the most diverse and scenic natural areas in the United States. Cliffs, bluffs, and meadows are mingled with forests. The forests consist of firs, oaks, maples, alders, and cedars that are mixed with many types of berries, mushrooms, and truffles. Wildlife is abundant, and the commanding views are spectacular. Due to its consistently moderate climate the region has been a major producer of timber, vegetables, and fruits for over 150 years. The area has also gained international renown for its world-class windsurfing and kite-boarding. The town of Hood River, Oregon (12 minutes away) has recently been witnessing escalating tourism and is increasingly becoming a tourist destination.
Our vineyards are located at the eastern edge of the Cascades, where the mountains meet the Columbia River. Our site is at the beginning of the rain shadow that occurs as the coastal marine air converges with the arid climate of the eastern side of the Cascades. This climatic change generally occurs along the White Salmon River valley. With this adiabatic rise the maritime fronts lose about 1” of rainfall per mile east of Stevenson, Washington, to The Dalles, Oregon (6” annual rainfall). We get about 38 inches per year, and this mostly occurs from November thru May.
The site is terraced on a 20 to 30% slope, with the rows oriented in a North-South direction. Vine spacing is 6x10, with some varieties and clones, planted to the higher density of 3x10. Vines are trained to a Kniffin Quari-Lateral Cordon VSP system which is supported by a metal. A drip irrigation system is installed with soil moisture monitors. The vineyard is deer-fenced, and bird netting is installed over the vines prior to harvest. At the appropriate times all vines are shoot-thinned and crop-thinned. Leaf pulling is done around the fruiting zone on the eastern side of the vines to help with the development of phenolics, anthocyanins and air flow. All canopies are open and air flow is enhanced by the slope of the hillside. The Columbia River provides a great moderating affect to the surrounding air temperature.
Petiole analyses are conducted around 2/3 bloom and again at veraison. Bud break occurs around mid-April; Bloom around the summer solstice (6/21); Veraison occurs in mid to late August; Harvest generally runs from the end of September to the end of October, depending on variety. The fruit is all hand harvested. The vineyard is located on the north side of Celilo Vineyard, along Kramer Road, which has been growing award winning fruit for over 30 years.
Current plantings consist of 24 different varieties and 48 different clones, of which about 95% are on rootstocks. Some of these include:
Whites: Riesling, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Müller Thurgau, Siegrebbe, and Madeleine Angevine.
Reds: Pinot Noir (majority), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, Mouvedre, Syrah, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Tempranillo.
Grapes are contracted by the acre, ton, or row depending on the variety and the winemaker’s needs. Custom plantings are possible.