Dundee Hills AVA - established 2005

  • The vines of the Willamette Valley (& Dundee Hills) vineyards originate from the same vines found in Burgundy France, one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world. Historically known to supply wine to the Roman legions of Julius Caesar, these unique vines result in remarkable red, white and rosé wines.
  • The Dundee Hills were formed 15 million to 17 million years ago by fluid lava, which left an iron rich red soil behind.  This soil type is called "Jory" soil. This was followed by a massive tectonic uplift of the earth roughly 5 million years ago, producing the hills.
  • The Dundee Hills are famous for red clay-loam soils deposited by ancient basalt floods. This volcanic soil has excellent mineral content and drainage.  Add the benefits of dryer and warmer weather than the surrounding areas, and the results are ideal conditions for Pinot Noir.  These exceptional growing conditions consistently produce excellent wines, wines of great clarity, depth and character.
  • There are over 40 wineries and 2,000 acres of vineyard planted within this AVA.


Raspberry & Black Tea
 
Some of the oldest vineyards are in this area including Eyrie Vineyards which was the first to plant in 1965. Not only will you find excellent Pinot Noir, but there’s also Chardonnay and sparkling wines. Dundee Hills has a high density of wine grower’s here, making it a good area to visit.
The red dirt is the secret to the flavor of the Dundee Hills grapes.  Coupled with expert and gentle winemaking, these wines have what the French call “gout de terrior”, the taste of the land.  Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills offer up raspberry and black tea aromas.

Key Producers in Dundee Hills
Four Graces, Domaine Serene, Roco Winery, Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, White Rose, Eyrie Vineyards, Willful (Daedalus), Torii Mor & others


More about the Dundee Hills:

Vineyards of the Dundee Hills appellation: Vineyards planted in the Dundee Hills of the northern Willamette Valley provided the start for the modern wine industry of Oregon, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This region is unique for its higher elevation, warmer nighttime temperatures, less low-elevation fog and frost, and lava-based Jory soil series of reddish silt, clay and loam soils.

These Jory volcanic soils have basalt as the mother rock, meaning they are well drained and warm earlier, giving the vines a jumpstart. They are unusually deep for hillsides, often 6 to 8 feet to bedrock, allowing the roots to grow deep. This, along with the high percentage of clay, tends to hold moisture later into the season than other soils in this area. The hills rise from the surrounding valley, making air drainage exceptional.  This means that spring and fall frosts are all but avoided, and the hills enjoy the summer warmth of the Willamette Valley.  Signature flavors of spice, earth, and toast notes stand out strongly, as well as dark fruitiness or subdued dark fruitiness abound. Red Hills wine typically displays aromas of red fruits, strawberry, cherry and raspberry.

It takes a long time to make a great winegrowing region ...

The Dundee Hills creation started about 15 to 17 million years ago when in far eastern Washington very fluid lava erupted and flowed west over portions of southwest Washington and the northern part of what is now the Willamette Valley. During this period Basaltic Lava flowed right over the top of the Dundee Hills, because at that point the hills did not exist. Starting about five million years ago, mass tectonic uplift started to occur, as the North American plate slipped under the Pacific plate. This created what are now the Coast Range of Oregon, southwest Washington and northern California. One of the many ripple effects of all of this land movement was the uplift of a single landmass which rose up from above the now northern Willamette Valley floor, creating this very special place our vineyards and wineries call home…the Dundee Hills.

Further defining our appellation were the catastrophic Missoula Floods. These floods happened between 15,500 and 12,700 years ago, on the interval of one flood every 60 to 90 years. The flood was caused by a glacier heading south clogging rivers near Missoula, Montana. Lake Missoula would grow into a very large lake, and every 60 to 90 years would break through the ice damn rushing down from Montana into and eventually filling the Willamette Valley to a depth of 300 to 330 feet. As each of these floods receded, a small layer of sediment was laid down over the Willamette Valley, covering all elevations below 300 to 330 feet. This is where the real definition of the Dundee Hills became apparent. Anything below 300 to 330 feet was a sedimentary based soil, while anything remaining above that elevation remained predominantly Jory soil.

Dundee Hills Pinot Pioneers

David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyards, who is affectionately known as Papa Pinot, made his way to the red hills in 1965 with the goal of finding the perfect cool climate suitable for planting Pinot noir. Another early pioneer is Dick Erath of Erath Winery, who arrived in 1967, planted his vines high up in the Dundee Hills, and is still passionate about making high-quality, affordable Pinot noir. Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser came to Dundee shortly after in 1971, and continue to raise the bar for sustainable and organic vineyard management in Oregon. And when Robert Drouhin purchased land in Dundee in the 1987, the arrival of Domaine Drouhin brought the wine world’s attention to the Willamette Valley.

           

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