Skamania Lodge: Wine is a big thing again at this Columbia Gorge Resort
25th Anniversary brings with it an award-winning selection of Pacific Northwest wines.
By Viki Eierdam
If you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Skamania Lodge. It’s a Cascadian-style retreat located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in the town of Stevenson, WA. The lodge is known for its sweeping views of the Columbia River, its tree-lined 18-hole golf course, its award-winning Cascade Dining Room and its close-proximity to Oregon’s famous Multnomah Falls.
The lodge is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, and dining room manager Debbie Flint is doing her best to make it a memorable one for wine enthusiasts. What is she doing? She’s bringing back the glory days of the lodge’s award-winning wine list. After seven years of offering a lackluster selection of wines, Flint decided it was high time that the Cascade Dining Room return to its days of vintage grandeur.
When Flint first started as a server and bartender in 2004, she says they had a “wonderful wine list” but the ensuing recession caused Skamania Lodge to scale back on wine offerings. When the opportunity to take over wine purchasing for the property came her way, Flint had a vision.
“I wanted to focus back on the Pacific Northwest and places many of our guests might not have the opportunity to visit, specifically the Columbia River Gorge as its own AVA, and showcase what we have locally,” Flint said.
The result of her efforts was a 2017 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, an accolade not bestowed on the Cascade Dining Room since 2009. Now guests can choose from a rotating 120-bottle menu and their by-the-glass program features 5 and 9-ounce pours on many of their 17 selections.
On a recent visit, Flint shared with me that she’s preparing to submit to Wine Spectator for 2018 and will add another 20 wines with a slightly larger Gorge focus. Staying in the line-up will be two keg wines from Garnier Vineyards of Mosier, Oregon — approachable in style and price point.
Flint said, “Our guests here at Skamania Lodge love that we showcase many of our local wineries from the Columbia Gorge AVA.” Her wine list also features wines from a number other Washington AVAs.
Earning a Wine Spectator award is a collaborative effort between the wine director and the culinary department. Flint said that executive chef Matt Hale’s menu was already on par for the distinction since Hale and sous chef, Zac Jansen, both focus on ingredients that pair well with specific wine profiles. Expanding on that talent, the Spring 2018 Cascade Dining Room menu will include wine pairing suggestions for each entrée.
Some of those could be seared scallops with Bergevin Lane’s 2016 “Linen” Sauvignon Blanc; Spanish-influenced mussels and clams with chorizo and a bottle of Isenhower Cellars “El Conquistador,” the winery’s tribute to the Iberian Peninsula; Beresan Winery’s “Cobblestone Vineyard” cabernet sauvignon blend with slow-roasted prime rib or one of Flint’s favorite pairings. Bergevin Lane, Isenhower Cellars and Beresan Winery are all located in Walla Walla, WA.
“We do a braised shortrib stroganoff which is to die for and I really love it with Cor Cellars ‘Momentum,’ which is their red-blend,” said Flint. Cor Cellars is located in Lyle, WA, within the Columbia Gorge AVA.
Wine is not reserved solely for The Cascade Dining Room, River Rock Lounge or the Gorge Room (the dog-friendly lounge that greets visitors at the main entrance to the lodge). Guests can partake in wine-centric experiences at the Waterleaf Spa, as well. A selection of wines is kept at the ready for by-the-glass or by-the-bottle purchases while lounging poolside, having a manicure or enjoying a luxurious soak in the hot tub.
But the Waterleaf Spa wine experience doesn’t stop there. It carries a skin care line made with wine. Uva Spa is a locally-owned company that sources its special ingredient from a Wishram, WA, vineyard. They tout the fact that resveratrol in wine has benefits strong enough to carry from the inside out. So it would stand to reason that the same antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and circulatory issues internally could transfer via direct skin contact.
Regardless, the lotions, massage oils, moisturizers, bubble baths and hand soaps are made with all-natural ingredients that cleanse, soften and exfoliate — all with an intoxicating aroma. The most popular application at the Waterleaf is a hand scrub prior to nail treatments. Wine-infused oils such as sunflower, grape seed, apricot, almond and jojoba melt tension away during a soothing massage. This unique line can be purchased for in-home use, as well.
Over the past quarter century, the spectacular setting of the Skamania Lodge has been reason enough to visit. With its floor-to-ceiling window views from many areas of the property, award-winning golf course, family and dog-friendly atmosphere, and impressive art collection courtesy of visionary and former owner, John Gray, the Skamania Lodge is that quintessential lodge experience Gray had dreamed it would be all those years ago.
Set in the midst of an outdoor enthusiast’s playground, the enhancement of a Wine Spectator-worthy wine program is something guests at Skamania Lodge will enjoy for the next 25 years…if Debbie Flint has anything to do about it.
More About the Lodge
- The Lodge features 254 guest rooms offering stunning views of either the Columbia River or neighboring forests and the Cascade Mountains, plus two Tree Houses that offer luxurious, private living above the forest floor.
- Two locally-sourced restaurants – the Cascade Dining Room and River Rock Lounge. The Friday night buffet and Sunday Brunch in the Cascade Dining Room have become traditions for guests of the lodge and local residents, with carving and made-to-order egg, pasta and salad stations and house specialties such as salmon, smoked pork loin and roasted Washington prime rib.
- The Waterleaf Spa. Located on the ground floor of Skamania Lodge, Waterleaf spa has seven treatment rooms and is open seven days a week until 9 p.m. Offering traditional massage treatments, Columbia River-Rock massage and UVA skin care treatments.
- Fitness Center. Located next to the Waterleaf Spa, the Fitness Center features treadmills, elliptical machines, free weights, swimming pool, hot tub and scenic outdoor spa.
- A challenging 18-hole, par-70 golf course tucked into the resort’s 175 wooded acres. Services include a driving range, a practice bunker, chipping and putting greens, a full-service golf shop, cart rentals and PGA Professionals to help you with your game.
- Greenside Grille: Open April through September to feed golfers and guests exploring Skamania’s beautiful grounds and nature trails, the Greenside Grille has a selection of classic menu items, including breakfast and deli sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, snacks, non-alcoholic drinks and draft beer.
- Skamania Lodge Zipline Tour: The tour will send you soaring through an old growth forest with views of the magnificent Columbia River. It consists of seven different lines, three sky bridges and 2.5 hours of stunning views surrounding the world class Skamania Lodge Resort.
Spring Specials at Skamania
The lodge is currently offering a number of specially priced package deals, including a Dream Golf Package, a Romantic Retreat for Two Package, a Bed and Breakfast Package and a Spring Break Package that runs through April 30th. You can check out current package deals by visiting: www.destinationhotels.com/skamania or by calling (844) 432-4748.
Following is a brief description of what each package includes:
- Bed and Breakfast Package: Overnight deluxe accommodations and a $30 breakfast credit.
- Romanic Retreat for Two Package: Overnight lodging in one of the hotel’s Superior Forest View rooms and a 50-minute couples massage.
- Spring Break Package: 25% off best room rate through April 30th.
- Dream Golf Package: Overnight lodging (double occupancy), unlimited golf on day of arrival and day of departure, golf cart and a bucket of balls.
How to get to Skamania Lodge. The lodge, located at 1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way in Stevenson, WA. is 45 minutes from either Vancouver, WA. or Portland, OR., 3 ½ hours from Seattle and approximately 4 1/2 hours from Spokane, WA. You’ll find detailed directions on the hotel’s website.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Viki Eierdam is a freelance writer who lives in Battle Ground, WA. Connect with her at: www.savorsipandsojourn.com.