Simply put, there’s nothing quite like Analemma. The biodynamic wine producer occupies what is easily one of the prettiest sites in the entire Pacific Northwest, located about halfway between Hood River and The Dalles in Mosier, Oregon. Here, the label is carving out one of the best wine programs in the region, focusing on Spanish varietals and unrivaled hospitality.
The property is breathtaking, set among a biodiverse mix of vineyards, orchards and grassland. It resides in a sweet spot of the Columbia River Gorge, not quite as dry as the Dalles but also not as wet as Hood River. That translates to conditions that allow for intriguing grape varieties like Albarino, Mencia, Godello and Trousseau.
While the views are arresting, the wines are just as distracting. Generally, they’re lighter and lower in alcohol, allowing the purity of fruit to really shine through. The Albrariño is bracing and refreshing while the Mencia is an ideal barbecue wine, great served with a quick chill. It tastes like a summer stroll through a country road, floral with delicate kicks of gravel and spice. The Blanco is also exceptional, a wine seemingly plucked from the Galician section of your favorite bottle shop. It has a pronounced ocean air quality, kissed by sea salt and great with food.
Analemma is also making Petit Manseng and Trousseau, a relative of Mencia. Winemaker Stephen Thompson is clearly having fun and it’s rubbing off on the wines. He’s fermenting in various styles (whole cluster, with the use of concrete, etc.) and it sounds like the label may be planting some new varieties in the not-too-distant future.
The label is now more than a decade old. Analemma was the first to plant Mencia in the United States back in 2012 and was issued formal biodynamic certification from Demeter in 2017. There’s a small winery on the property that extends off the back of the tasting room bar and patio.
The hospitality element is worth noting. Frankly, every label has a tasting experience these days. But Analemma is doing it all right, making its storybook setting even more magical. The details are impressive, right down to the locally sourced snacks and tasty savory biscuits made with estate wine grapes. Visitors can choose between an al fresco tasting, field tasting or orchard trek. There’s even a “20-mile picnic” sparked by the East Gorge Food Trail that spotlights ingredients from within a 20 mile radius of Analemma.
Going the self-guided route may be the best option and it tends to lead to the Hillside Terrace, set between neats rows of vines and a sprawling lavender field. Strolling through the property feels as much like a geology lesson as a wine tasting adventure, with stunning topography in all directions that remind of the area’s dramatic ancient history.
The service is knowledgeable and friendly and the tasting traces the extent of the vineyard. For wine enthusiasts really looking to get lost in a place — and not soon forget about it — Analemma is where it’s at.
Images by Michael Hanson Photography