PORTLAND — Columbia Gorge winemakers believe their wines deserve more attention than they get from Portland consumers.

They’ve taken to describing themselves as residents of Portland’s less expensive backyard, easier to visit and with less traffic than vineyards and wineries in the better-known Willamette Valley.

That description is courtesy of Kate Hart, co-executive director of the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association, who might cheerfully acknowledge some bias.

Consumers have an opportunity to decide for themselves on Friday, April 1, when 22 gorge wineries will be pouring during a Portland tasting. It will be held at Castaway Portland, 1800 N.W. 19th Ave. in Portland’s Pearl District.

General admission is $25 and gets you in from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A VIP ticket costs $40 and grants admission an hour earlier and into a private room.

The Columbia Gorge AVA, or American Viticultural Area, dates only to 2004, but is marked by elevation changes, soil types and micro-climates that result in production of a wide variety of wines, Hart said. Although the AVA is new, grapes have been grown in the area since the late 1880s, Hart said. The oldest is presumed to be a Zinfandel vineyard near The Dalles.

The AVA runs 40 miles west to east on both sides of the Columbia River, roughly from Hood River, Ore., to Maryhill, Wash. The winegrowers association describes the AVA as “a world of wine in 40 miles,” with precipitation decreasing approximately an inch per mile west to east and with much more sun toward the eastern end.

For ticket information go to: http://www.columbiagorgewine.com/portland-grand-tasting.html

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