Discover the Bounty of the Hood River Valley at The Gorge White
The Hood River Fruit Loop maps more than 25 agricultural destinations throughout Oregon’s Hood River Valley, from u-pick farms and fruit stands, to wineries, breweries and flower fields. The bounty of this scenic 35-mile travel route is unmatched, no matter whether you’re searching for fresh pears or apples, or you’re hoping to discover your new favorite craft beverage. For cider lovers especially, there’s one stop on the loop that’s at the top of the must-visit list: The Gorge White House.
Pulling off of Oregon Route 35, you’re met with the awe-inspiring white house, a Dutch-Colonial style landmark that has stood in the valley since 1910. There’s plenty of parking to the side of the house and around the back, making it easy to access all the property has to offer, even on the busiest days.
The more than 30-acre farm is surrounded by an abundance of u-pick opportunities, including flowers, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, apples and pears throughout the season. At the center of it all is the tasting room pouring cider and wine, along with a food cart and ample outdoor seating to soak in the magic of the property from early spring to late fall.
When brothers Pat and Barry Kennedy, along with their wives Mary Beth and Carrie, bought the property, they immediately got to work to bring the farm-fresh food cart and selection of hard cider into play. And for any local food and beverage lover, those highlights have certainly served as a key draw since 2013. “There is a romantic intention of offering cider that our guests can drink while strolling the fields of fruit that we used in their glass,” says cidermaker John Stehlik, who started working with the Kennedys in 2013.
According to Stehlik, each cider served at Gorge White House starts off with a base of either apple or pear cider; The fruit is largely sourced from the property. From that base, other additions such as local wildflower honey, local lavender and other fruit are introduced to craft a wide range of flavors to reach a wide range of palates. “First and foremost, we make ciders that we want to drink,” says Stehlik. “We find inspiration in the fresh produce that our farms and the Hood River Valley provides. Friends and family always have new and exciting ideas that we love exploring.”
Honey Lavender and Lemon Pear ciders are consistently at the top of the best-sellers list in the tasting room, but many other flavor offerings aren’t far behind. Mixed Berry is full-bodied and sweet thanks to the addition of marionberries, blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries and raspberries. Blueberry is dry and tart, highlighting the blueberries grown on-site. My personal favorite? Watermelon, which can only be found during the summer months, is absolutely worth the wait. “We have access to the best ingredients in the world right outside our doorstep and take advantage of our fruitful valley,” says Stehlik. And that mission of utilizing what’s fresh, in-season and available results in incredible ciders for cider lovers and novices alike.
Just as the cider offerings at Gorge White House beautifully show off the bounty of the property, the dishes coming out of the food cart are equally impressive. This is definitely not your average food truck. At the helm is chef Jack Kennedy, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in France and Australia. And his love for all that the Hood River Valley has to offer certainly comes through in his food. “I have a grocery store in my backyard,” says Kennedy. “Using the freshest ingredients makes for the best tasting food.”
The menu is approachable, yet elevated in a way that celebrates the farm and the region. The pear quesadilla is made with creamy goat cheese paired with fresh pears grown on the property. The flatbreads feature fresh berries, cherries, heirloom tomatoes and more, all grown on-site. Burgers are made with Mt. Shadow beef, sourced from just 45 miles away, and are served on buns made fresh every morning by Mary Beth Kennedy. And better yet? Everything on the menu will pair perfectly with a cider flight or a glass of your favorite flavor.
The dedication to utilizing what’s grown on-site or sourced nearby is very apparent with every bite of exceptional food and every sip of handcrafted cider enjoyed at The Gorge White House, making it the ideal stop to explore a taste of the Hood River Valley.
Hood River, OR 97031