Yamhill-Carlton AVA

You know that you have found a special place, when I can’t think of anything snarky or smart-assy to say about it.  This is truly the case with Yamhill-Carlton.  In fact, I have genuine affection for the people of the region for the kindness and enthusiasm that they showed to a bunch of wine bloggers.  But more on that later…. This is a discussion of the appellation as a whole.  Yamhill-Carlton was created originially in 2004 as the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA but was amended in 2010 to remove the word District from the official name.  Why?  Well, the assumption had been that district was pretty much implied by creating an AVA in the first place and that there was just so much real estate available on a wine bottle label.  Either way, the justifications for the creating of the viticultural area remained the same – elevation, soils and climates.

The soils of the area are ancient ocean sediments mixed with basalts from the sea floor which are capable of holding moisture much longer than others. The two most predomininant types are the Willakenzie which is well drained with medium permeability and  Peavine which are found at higher elevations and contain more clays which allows for slightly slower drainage.  Elevation is also a differentiating element for the appellation.  The requirements under TTBs rules require that the elevation for qualifying wines must be between 200 and 1000 feet.   This is important as lower areas are subject to frost, while higher sites do not get enough warmth to allow grapes to mature.  Additionally, the climate is overall warmer and dryer than the surrounding areas which include the Coastal Range to the west and the Van Duzer Corridor to the south which allows cool damp air from the Pacific to move eastward into the central part of the state.

Currently there are 60 vineyards and 30 wineries producing from the following varietals:

  • Chardonnay
  • Dolcetto
  • Early Muscat
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

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

Walla Walla AVA

A town so nice, they named it twice!

Well, not so much the town in this scenario as the entire appellation. This seems only fair as the this AVA is located in two separate states – Oregon and Washington. The justifications for the establishment of the viticultural area are historic, geologic, geographic and climatic.

Walla Walla translates at “rapid stream” or “many waters” in the Sahaptin language that is shared by the Walla Walla, Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Tenino peoples. Western settlers moved into the area beginning in the 1830s when Marcus and Narcissa Whitman came as missionaries to the Walla Walla people but were murdered by the Cayuse following outbreaks of measles that the indians believed were caused by the whites (they were, but they didn’t do it on purpose as no one was aware of germ theory quite yet).  Viticulture began informally with French fur trappers in the 1840s in an area previously known as Frenchtown, now called Lowden.

The geologic basis of the creation of the appellation is based in part  on the similarity of the river plain of assorted wind blown loess soils well drained by smaller streams that cut through the area.  Being located  between the Cascades and the Blue Mountains along the Washington, Oregon and Idaho border means that the area is blocked from the moderating temperatures nearer the Pacific but also in a rain shadow as well.  This means that the climate is more intense with warmer days with cool evenings and semi-arid which requires irrigation for cultivation.

Modern viticulture (i.e. post-(the dreaded) Prohibition) began with Leonetti Cellars in the 1970s with Woodward Canyon Cellars and L’Ecole 41 coming along in the 1980s .  The Walla Walla AVA was established in 1984 and amended to extend the territory in 2001.  Varietals produced in the area include:

  • Barbera
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Carmenere
  • Chardonnay
  • Cinsault
  • Counoise
  • Dolcetto
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Grenache
  • Malbec
  • Marsanne
  • Merlot
  • Mourvedre
  • Nebbiolo
  • Petit Verdot
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Rousanne
  • Sangiovese
  • Semillon
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Tempranillo
  • Viognier
Oh, and I have actually been to this viticultural area!  The Wine Bloggers’ Conference in 2010 was in Walla Walla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Umpqua Valley AVA

One man’s basin is another man’s valley.

The Umpqua is formed by three mountain ranges:  The Cascades, the Coastal Range and he Klamath, but often the area is often known as the 100 valleys of the Umpquas.  The Umpqua River runs through the valley but is no way responsible for the formation of this appellation.  The soils are a diverse mixture of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks with alluvial and clays dominating the valley floor and clays.  In fact, the contains at least 150 separate soil types.  The climate of the region is also varied with the northern areas being cool and  moist, the southern being warm and dry and the central area transitional.

Viticulture has been active since the 1880s when German settlers left California and headed north.  In the modern era winemaking was established in the early 1960s and has grown to at least 60 vineyards and 12 wineries.  The appellation also distinguishes itself by being the first place in the U.S. growing Grüner Veltliner.  Other varietals being produced include:

  • Albariño
  • Baco Noir
  • Barbera
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Dolcetto
  • Gewürztraminers
  • Grenache
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Kadarka
  • Malbec
  • Marechal Foch
  • Merlot
  • Muller Thurgau
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Petite Sirah
  • Pinot gris
  • Pinot noir
  • Pinotage
  • Riesling
  • Roussane
  • Sangiovese
  • Semillon
  • Sauvigon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Tannat
  • Tempranillo
  • Valdiguie
  • Vermentino
  • Viognier
  • Zinfandel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Southern Oregon AVA

While over time the focus has been on smaller and smaller wine regions, in 2004 the TTB went completely the other way, creating a super-AVA in the form of the Southern Oregon AVA. This region consists of the Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate Valleys and Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon AVAs as well as additional territory linking the regions together. The idea for the super-sized AVA was that of H. Earl Jones of Abacela and his son, associate professor of geography, Gregory V. Jones of Southern Oregon University. (editor’s note: See? I am not the only person with a degree in geography!) They evidence cited to justify the designation includes historical, cultural, climatic, geologic and geographical justifications for the creation of the viticultural area.

Historically, the region has been a wine producing area since the 1850s with modern viticulture restarting in the 1950s. From a cultural perspective, they cite the “physical and cultural” divisions of the state of which Southern Oregon is an example. The region is located south of Eugene to the California border largely within the Umpqua, Rogue, Applegate, Illinois and Bear Creek Valleys. The petition indicates that the soils in the area, while varied are older than those in the Willamette to the north or the coastal zones to the west and contain fewer silts from ancient oceans and lakes. The temperatures in the area are on average the warmest in the state which allows for the cultivation of warmer climate grapes as well as allowing for select microclimates that are perfect for colder acclimated varietals. Additionally, the elevations in the region are higher than the surrounds areas and it receives less rainfall.

The appellations is home to over fifty (50) wineries and produces wines from varietals including:

  • Albarino
  • Bastardo
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Dolcetto
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Grenache
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Muscat Canelli
  • Petit Verdot
  • Petite Sirah
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Sangiovese
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Syrah
  • Tempranillo
  • Viognier
  • Zinfandel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Snake River Valley AVA

Located in both Oregon and Idaho the Snake River Valley was previously best known by me as the location where Evel Kneivel jumped a canyon with a rocket* (or a strangely conceived steam powered motorcycle). My eight-year old self aside, the appellation was designated in 2007 after the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission submitted the petition which was granted due to unique qualities of the region.

And what are those qualities? Specifically, it is cooler, drier, at a higher elevation and with a shorter growing season than nearby appellations (Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, Oregon and Washington’s Walla Walla Valley and California’s Napa Valley (which seems to be a de rigueur comparison)). Unlike many appellations, the soils are varied but are underlain by the remains of ancient Lake Idaho which largely forms the border of the area.

Viticulture had begun in Idaho in the 1860s but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it took root in the Snake River Valley. From that time number of wineries and vineyards to grown to nearly thirty and is producing wines from a wide range of vinifera grapes including:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Carmenére
  • Chardonnay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Lemberger
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Mourvédre
  • Muscat
  • Petite Sirah
  • Petit Verdot
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Primitivo
  • Riesling
  • Sangiovese
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Syrah
  • Tempranillo
  • Viognier

I have been to Idaho, though not near the AVA but I did stop and buy a from the appellation.  The wine was a dry Riesling from Ste. Chapelle and I will be looking for more in the future as it was dry and crisp with a bright burst of fruit.  Sadly, on my trip to Oregon this year for WBC12, I was no where near the Snake River Valley.  Maybe next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Turns out the area that Evel Knievel took off from and landed was in the AVA. Worlds colliding?!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Rogue Valley AVA

The Rogue Valley viticultural area is located within Southern Oregon and is nestled among the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountain surrounding the Rogue river and its tributaries. Comprised of the river valleys of the Rogue River and its tributaries (the Illinois, Bear Creek and the Applegate) and at the convergence of three mountain ranges (the Klamath, the Coast Ranges and the Cascades) the soils are more variable than in some of the other Oregon appellations but are amongst the warmest and driest in the state.  This allows for the production of a wider variety of grapes including: Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Gerwurztraminer, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, Syrah, Tempranillo and Viognier.

Viticulture has a longer history in the Rogue Valley than in other parts of Oregon.  The earliest settlers into the are in the 1840s planted the first vineyards and by 1852 Peter Britt planted vines that became the state’s first winery in 1873.  The rebirth of the industry began in the late 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon AVA

This appellation is unique for the state in that encompasses a single vineyard. Located near the town of Yoncalla, in the Umpqua Valley and home to Sienna Ridge Estate. The first vineyard was planted in Yoncalla in 1876 by the Applegate family. Sienna Ridge was settled by the Long Family in 1849 and was planted with vines in 2002 when Wayne Hitchings purchased part of the property.

The vineyard grows Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir in its well drained Jory soils. The official soil of the State of Oregon (every state has one… who knew?!), which are made of deep, well drained soils made of igneous rocks. Additionally, the vineyard is characterized by wildly fluctuating daily temperatures allows the grapes to develop intense flavors.

Oh, and the explanation for the super long appellation name?  By being so specific it was unlikely to confused for Washington’s Red Mountain or California’s Red Hills Lake County AVAs.

 

Sienna Ridge Estate
1876 John Long Rd
Oakland, OR 97462
541-849-3300
siennaridge@centurytel.net

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

McMinnville AVA

Located within Oregon’s Willamette (dammit) Valley and AVA, McMinnville is located west of the city of the same name and has had a two hundred year history of agriculture. In 1970, viticulture began in the appellation when David Lett opened a winery and has hosted an International Pinot Noir Competition every July since 1987. The Appellation is based upon both location along the eastern and southeastern slopes of the foots hills of the Coast Range and elevation between 200 and 1000 feet. The soils are primarily marine soils with intrusions of basalt which provide the grapes with a distinctive flavor. The climate stays cool from ocean breezes that enter the area through the Van Duzer corridor and helps maintain a higher acidity in the grapes.

McMinnville contains 14 wineries and produces Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling varietals.

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor