Gorgeous Wines


The Dalles’ Wines on Second has a specially curated wine selection. ##Photo by Kathy Pothier
A customer leaving Wines on Second. ##Photo by Kathy Pothier
Cork Wine Shop offers two distinct wine club options, along with a selection of wines by the glass. ##Photo Provided

By Brooke Strickland

The Columbia River Gorge has much to offer– breathtaking scenery stunning visitors from around the world, a thriving beer scene and destination wineries perfect for wine aficionados from all walks of life. For wine entrepreneurs, it’s also a great place to establish roots. The Gorge has recently welcomed several new wine shops with relaxed tasting rooms and diverse, world-class wine that keep people coming back.

Cork Wine Shop

Located in the heights of Hood River, Cork Wine Shop opened in November. Founder Dave Nagengast, along with wife Emily, have been delightfully surprised at the community’s response.

“We saw a need for a neighborhood wine shop and tasting space with special and unique wines,” Nagengast said. “A place with knowledgeable staff ready to assist, whether you’re grabbing a bottle to-go or staying for a glass or two. Community support has exceeded our expectations. We’ve received great feedback on our selection and prices. People are so happy to discover good wine is right around the corner.”

Cork Wine features a diverse selection of wines at approachable prices. The shop stocks responsibly wines from over 400 producers around the world. There are two distinct wine club memberships, including exceptional bottles delivered every three months. They also hope to start hosting events showcasing the area’s smaller producers without their own tasting rooms.

The certified level two sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers adds a background in business and restaurants to this new venture. He observed that opening the shop in the Gorge allows him to pursue his passion for both wine and an outdoor enthusiast’s lifestyle.

“We absolutely love being in the Gorge and can’t imagine a better community to raise our family,” he said. “I look forward to introducing our customers to my new and old favorites. We already feel part of the neighborhood and are excited to find new ways to connect with our Hood River community and other businesses.”

Soča Wine Shop & Bar

White Salmon’s recently opened Soča Wine Shop & Bar represents a collaboration that first began among Jure Poberaj and Nina Jimenez of Poberaj Wines, White Salmon Baking Co. and Bethany Kimmel of The Color Collector. Kimmel has managed the daily operations with the help of a talented and nimble small team for the past year. Recently, Poberaj and Jimenez stepped away from ownership to focus on Poberaj Wines and other endeavors.

The cozy bar, at the west end of downtown next to city hall, features café seating, wines by the glass that rotate regularly, and hundreds of bottles available for purchase. Small plates are also available with delicious options, such as French onion soup with crostini and manchego cheese, smoked cod dip and chips, and scalloped potato gratin with roasted maitake mushrooms and scallion salsa verde.

“As winegrowers and makers working in the Gorge, we wanted to create a place where our wine community could find inspiration from around the world as well as gather and share as we collectively continue to explore,” noted Kimmel. “White Salmon is a special community; the energy of the people and place reverberates in its small businesses. Soča is part wine library and part gathering place. Above all, it’s intended to be a welcoming space to everyone regardless of wine knowledge or experience.”

Wines on Second

After experiencing success with his Portland-based 45th Parallel Wines, Matt Hensel opened Wines on Second in The Dalles in 2021. For him, a shop in the Gorge honors the area he holds dear.

“I’ve loved the Gorge since I was a child,” he said. “I grew up in Eastern Oregon and played sports in The Dalles. I visited friends there regularly and they told me how they we wished there was a place like my Portland location. So, I decided to bring that concept here.”

The shop specializes in high-quality, yet affordable, wines, with an eye toward sustainability. To compensate for lacking a kitchen, Hensel has a large pantry and cooler of snacks to enjoy. Guests are allowed to bring outside food from local restaurants into the shop. The family and pet-friendly space has seen steady, incremental growth. A local wine club meets monthly and live music is offered. Soon, Wines on Second will introduce a new education series and small food program.

Hensel observed, “I’m increasingly moving my personal life to The Dalles. This shop is a way to begin putting down roots in the community. Fifteen years ago, before getting into the wine business, I was a social worker for a decade. Community spaces and engagement are still my passions. Wine is our specialty, but community is what we do.”

A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Brooke Strickland is a full-time freelance writer that specializes in writing blogs, website content, and business news for companies & publications around the country. She is also the co-author of Hooked on Games, a book about technology and video game addiction. When she's not writing, you can find her on her porch swing reading a historical fiction novel with a glass of rosé or hanging out with her husband and two kids. 

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