Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
WINERY tasting room manager Anne Riedl talks about varietals with guest Richard Rose of Hood River in the airy tasting room at Idiot’s Grace east of Mosier. Large format photo at left gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the winery’s place in the geography of the Mid-Columbia.
As of Wednesday, May 16, 2018
The family-owned Idiot’s Grace Winery, long a tour stop near Lyle, has settled into new 6,000-foot quarters just east of Mosier.
The winery opened its tasting room three weeks ago at 8450 Highway 30, but plans a grand opening from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 19-20, with barrel tastings, tours, and the chance to sample varieties of its main label, Idiot’s Grace, and its Rhone-style Memaloose line of wines in one location.
Vintner Brian McCormick and his wife, Dr. Maria McCormick, a physician, have two sons, Jango, a college freshman, and Theo, a sophomore at Hood River Valley High School.
They moved to Hood River in 2002 and started Memaloose Winery with Brian’s father, Robert, near Lyle, Wash., and founded Idiot’s Grace Farm on the Mosier property.
Idiot’s Grace featured wines include Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, along with reds Primitovo, Barbera and others, and the winery has bottles of Reisling and Chardonay available.
All are estate bottled and organically grown. In the 12 years the McKenzies have owned the sprawling former cherry farm, Brian has gradually added more and more vineyards, including the hard-to-find Cabernet Franc grapes (the 2014 vintage is for sale) and also some pear trees.
McCormick and tasting room manager Anne Riedl will offer tasting tours every other hour, starting at 11 a.m., stopping to sample wines in the vineyards where they were grown.
The event features a blind “Guess the grape”: after a tasting, take a special sip, guess the grape variety correctly and win a prize.
McCormick said the winery building location “took advantage of the natural slope, giving us a four-foot ledge through the building to take advantage of the gravity to move juice and wine through the building.
“It’s a bit of a privilege,” he said.
The airy tasting room looks out on a patio and grounds; picnic baskets for touring the vineyards (encouraged) are provided, as well as knitted wraps to keep cool on the patio.
Freshly printed are maps of Idiot’s Grace stressing that dogs must remain in the car, children are welcome but must be carefully supervised, and to watch for dust and dirt, farm equipment, uneven ground, snakes, bees and yellow jackets and poison ivy, along with “strong sunshine, wind, incredible views and the unspeakable beauty and wonder of nature.”
The vineyards and 75-year-old cherry orchards (look for U-pick in summer) provide a panoramic view up to the Mosier hills and over the Columbia River.
The name Idiot’s Grace comes from a grunge-era song lyric by Kevin Salem, chosen as an act of humility by McCormick
“It’s not idiot like the guy that just cut you off on the freeway, but idiot in the sense of like a know nothing. I think that’s the farming part; you’ve not actually in charge. What we try to is go out and run support, maybe you’re idiotic to buy a farm in this day and age. And some people call a shovel an ‘idiot stick,’ so that wraps into by the grace of these plants and the natural world these things are actually happening.”