Perched on a bluff above the mighty Columbia River is the Southwest-style abode of Malaga Springs Winery. The orange-hued winery and adjacent home of Al and Kathy Mathews is the perfect complement to the basalt cliffs rising in the background. Nearby is Saint Laurent Winery, and if you squint your eyes, you can see Martin-Scott Winery many miles in the distance.
Getting to Malaga Springs Winery on Cathedral Rock Drive is a bit of an adventure given that most of the journey is on gravel road. However, the destination is worth the occasional washboard bumps. As Al notes, “We are one of the smallest wineries in the state, with production well south of 1,000 cases annually.” Translation: Lovingly nurtured, hand punched-down fermenting wine, for which Al has aged in oak through maturity.
When I wasn’t gazing at the lemon yellow sample of viognier poured for me, I took in the pottery placed throughout the tasting room. It turns out Al throws pots when he is not busy making wine or dabbling in other things. A tour of the facilities revealed that Al built their current residence and tasting room using an ingenious straw bale technique. He also showed me the plot of land where he will build their new house, next to Kathy’s well-tended gardens (she’s a natural at growing things). And all these talents are sandwiched between Al’s other job in Alaska, where he owns a commercial fishing business. Phew!
Be sure to note the colorful labels on Malaga Springs’ bottles. That’s the creation of Al’s 84-year-old mother, Vera Mathews. As I packed my bottles of “Al y Kat,” a big, bold red, into the car, I reflected on the pioneer spirit of this family, suffused with self-sufficiency, respect for the land, and love of family.
By Wine Trails NW