Willamette Valley AVA

It’s Willamette Dammit! And rightfully so, as this appellation is the big daddy of Oregon winemaking. (also, it is pronounced Ora-gun not Or-e-gone. These folks are making you delicious wine. Be respectful of their ways).  Stretching 150 miles north to south and 60 miles wide in some places, this is the home of Pinot.  The climate is perfect for it.  Located in the same latitudes as the vineyards of Alsace and Burgundy with warm dry summers and a cool rainy season all that this viticultural area needed for success was the perfect soil conditions.  And what do you know?  They got them.  Oregon’s Jory soils are located in the foothills of the region are are composed of igneous rocks that were swept through the region thousands of years ago at the time of the Missoula Floods.  The soil is thick, well drained and full of minerally deposits that grapes just love.

While there is a long history of agriculture in the region, viticulture didn’t really take off until the mid to late 1960s  when UC Davis alum Charles Coury, Dick Erath and David Lett found their way up north of California.  From there the industry has grown by leaps and bounds with around 200 wineries and an additionally six new sub-appellations in existence.  And while Pinot Noir is King, it isn’t the only game in town, additionally grown are:

  • Auxerrois
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cascade
  • Chardonnay
  • Dolcetto
  • Gamay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Malbec
  • Marechal Foch
  • Melon
  • Merlot
  • Muller Thurgau
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • Nebbiolo
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Tocai Fruiulano
  • Viognier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Ribbon Ridge AVA

Stretching from Gaston to Newberg, Ribbon Ridge is one of the smaller appellations in the state (The smallest prior to the addition of Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon). Home to five wineries and twenty (20) vineyards, the area is like an island within the larger Chehalem and Willamette Valley AVAs and is protected by the surrounding mountains to allow for a consistently warmer and drier environment during the growing season. The soils in the area are from the Willakenzie series which are less red then the Jory soils but is deep, well drained with a low fertility that makes it perfect for wine grapes.

Viticulture began in the region in 1980 and became and AVA in 2005.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Chehalem Mountains

Next up alphabetically speaking are the Chehalem Mountains.  This appellation snakes around the town of Newburg and the Willamette (dammit) River in northwestern Oregon just southwest of Portland.  The area has grown from a few vineyards in the late 1960s to 100 vineyards and 31 wineries currently.  The mountains are the highest in the valley and contain soils of basalt, eolian silt and ocean sediments.  Along with being the highest land within the Valley, the weather is the most varied allowing for multiple micro-climates at elevations that range from 200- 1,633 feet.  Grapes produced in the region include Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling.

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor