The communities of Castle Rock and Toledo are not necessarily what you would think of when you think of wine destinations. To most, these towns are just names you see on a freeway sign. You may take a quick break to fill up your gas tank or take a quick run through the drive-thru restaurant, but not stay for the local culture.
Well, I’m here to say STOP! Take an hour or two…or three…and take a break. Experience what small town hospitality has to offer.
When you’re coming from the south, like I do (I’m located near the border of Clark and Cowlitz Counties), HarMony Winery is the first stop. In addition to making the traditional (AKA Grape) wine, they also make a variety of fruit wines. When I visited, they were pouring 11 wines. Between my Mom and I, we tasted through a good majority of them and we were impressed with the reds. The Counoise and Murphy’s Romance are highly recommended!! They are located at 555 Kroll Road in Castle Rock, WA.
Mt. St. Helens Cellars was the next stop on the wine loop. They have a good variety of wines, from aromatic whites to enticing reds, they appeal to every wine lover. My personal recommendations are the Albariño and their red blend called Sasquatch in a Bottle. If you’re not familiar with the legend of Sasquatch, you can read up here. Mt. St. Helens Cellars has a tasting room located at 1254 Mt. St. Helens Way (off of exit 49 in Crossroads Plaza) in Castle Rock, and the winery itself is open by appointment at 211 Morningstar Dr., Silverlake, WA.
The final stop is Bateaux Cellars. Bateaux came onto my radar at the 2013 Craft Wine Festival in Vancouver, WA and has been a go-to for me ever since. With deliciously crisp whites, a fantastic Rosé of Sangiovese and a stellar line up of reds, Bateaux is one of my “must finds” when I see they’re at a festival I’m planning on going to. This is, in my opinion, one of Western Washington’s hidden gems. Bateaux is located at 288 Smokey Valley Road, Toledo, WA. Just a hint, though…DO NOT FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FROM GOOGLE! Go to their website and get the actual address, as the address on Google is incorrect. Dear Google: Bateaux Cellars is at 288 SMOKEY VALLEY ROAD…NOT JACKSON HWY S!
All in all, I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to work the Cowlitz Wine Loop into your wine tasting repertoire. One piece of advice would be to call ahead, though, as these places are almost all run by folks who have other careers beyond the wine industry.