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Vintage Oregon - Exploring Oregon's Wine Regions
OWB Blog (Mar 21 2013) Vintage Oregon Blog
Vintage Oregon will be taking place at the Leftbank Annex, a unique event space situated in the heart of Portland, Oregon. Located on all the major transportation lines and right next to the Rose Quarter, the multi-level floor plan allowed our creative team a chance to envision an interactive floor plan like none other (think Candyland meets the Oregon Trail).
With the goal of encouraging guests to taste, learn and experience the very best of the Northwest, we thought it best to break down Oregon wine country.
Oregon’s wine country is comprised of 17 distinct American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) distributed over four wine-growing regions throughout the state – the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, the Columbia Gorge and Eastern Oregon. Because of the state’s multiple climates and micro-climates, wine growers are able to commercially produce as many as 72 different varieties of grapes. While some grape varieties, such as Oregon’s signature Pinot noir, grow across several regions, each region has its own unique qualities that distinguish it from the other regions.
The Columbia Gorge
Mt. Hood and the cliffs of the Columbia River look down on waterfront towns, countless waterfalls and the world’s best windsurfing waters. This up-and-coming wine region is also the home of the Hood River Fruit Loop driving trail. Located in the Hood River area, the Columbia Gorge AVA’s climate varies widely. From the high desert-like east to the cooler, wetter west, a range of grape varietals − Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, among them – thrive in this region.
While part of the arid Columbia Valley AVA is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, a number of new, innovative Oregon wineries are making Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and a host of other wines in The Dalles area.
Oregon winemaking began in Southern Oregon when the first wine grapes were planted in the 1800s. The Umpqua Valley is also the home of the modern fine wine industry and the first Pinot noir grapes were planted at Hillcrest Vineyard more than 50 years ago. Oregon’s first Pinot noir was also bottled there in 1967.
Today, new vineyards and wineries are reigniting the established wine culture by producing top-notch wines. Comprised of 170 microclimates, Southern Oregon is the state’s largest warm-climate growing region.
With five Sub AVAs − Umpqua Valley, Red Hills Douglas County, Rogue Valley, Applegate Valley and the new Elkton – in addition to the Southern Oregon AVA, and more than 65 wineries, it’s one of the most diverse winegrowing regions in the world. Cooler areas produce Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Sauvignon blanc and more. The warmer, arid regions ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and others.
Located in northeastern Oregon eight miles south of Walla Walla, Wash., this region is open, spacious and home to vineyards along the Columbia River. Diverse soils form the basis of distinctive Walla Walla AVA terriors: silty, sandy earth from the Missoula Floods, basalt cobblestones and fractured basalt bedrock.
Earthy and spicy, full-bodied Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, Pinot gris, Chenin blanc and Syrah produced here are easily recognized for their distinctive minerality.
More than 60 percent of Walla Walla AVA wine is made from grapes grown in Oregon.
The Snake River Valley AVA straddles the Oregon-Idaho border and is one of the state’s newest. Currently, there are no wineries in the Oregon portion of the AVA.
With its namesake river running through it from Portland to south of Eugene, the region, home to more than 225 wineries, is protected by the Coast Range to the west, the Cascades to the east and a chain of hills to the north. The Willamette Valley is the heart of Oregon’s agricultural production with farms growing everything from fruit and nuts to Christmas trees and flowers, and, of course, wine grapes. The Willamette Valley is home to Oregon’s world renowned Pinot noir, which is often compared to the Burgundy region of France.
In addition to the Willamette Valley AVA, sub AVAs include Chehalem Mountains, Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills, McMinnville and Eola-Amity Hills.
Wet, cool winters and warm, dry summers make this an ideal climate for Pinot noir and other cool-climate grapes, including Pinot gris, Chardonnay and Riesling.
Come taste wine from each of these regions at Vintage Oregon on April 28! Tickets are on sale now. The link is below, so buy your ticket to Vintage Oregon today. We look forward to exploring with you.
- Oregon Wine Board’s team divulges wine tasting secrets!
- also categorized in Vintage Oregon Blog
- OPB Documentary Chronicles Fascinating History of Oregon Wine Industry
- also published in OWB Blog