Downtown wine scene gains another player with Stoltz Vineyards

25 Jun

First there was one, then two, three, four, five and six wine tasting rooms in Hood River. Yikes! Pretty soon, people will have to choose.

I finally got a chance to swing by and introduce myself to Garrit Stoltz, the younger half of the partnership behind Stoltz Vineyards and its new tasting room and production facility in the big yellow house at 6th and State, just west of the Hood River Library.

The house at 514 State St., former home to Anderson’s Tribute Center, has been home for years to The Wine Sellers. Appropriate, then, that John and Garrit Stoltz would hang their banner there.

John and his wife, Charlene, migrated to farmland in the Parkdale area in the early ’80s. They bought the former funeral home in 1986 and used it as a base for their businesses — Advanced Navigation and Positioning Corp. and Advanced Systems Concepts — for the next 20 years.

Son Garrit grew up in Parkdale, before leaving for California, where he balanced time as a Marine Corps reservist and college student of international business and Chinese. His studies led to study and work opportunities in China. He also spent time in Israel, before completing college and returning to the valley in 2009, intent on making wine.

Garrit worked for a winery in South Africa before continuing his on-the-job-training at Pheasant Valley winery. “I had dreamed of my own winery for awhile,” he says. After returning from a teaching gig in China last year, he released his first wines this spring.

He still uses facilities at Pheasant Valley to get his wine to barrel. He bottles at the Hood River facility, where he is assembling equipment in classic bootstrap fashion.He talks of the family’s plans to grow the business and make use of the great view platform at the north side of the house, overlooking Georgiana Smith (the name of the original property owner) park.

Currently, the Stoltzes have released a Pinot Noir, a Pink (lighter blend of pinot noir, malbec and sangiovese), a Chardonnay and a Zweigelt — rare in the Northwest, but Austria’s most popular red grape varietal. Tasting room hours are still in flux, so just drop by and pray for luck. Or call 541-436-2543.

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