Willamette Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area) - established 1983
('the Earth's Sweetest Dirt')
The vines of the Willamette Valley
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.
Concentrated grape growing in Oregon began
here, with initial plantings in 1966 and ongoing
vineyard growth in the intervening 50 years adding over 15,000 acres, largely
because of the benign but challenging cool climate, the protection of
mountains on eastern and western boundaries and because of the favorable
volcanic & sedimentary soil
types--and, also largely because of one
grape variety, Pinot noir. A large AVA of 3,438,000 acres (5372 square
miles), it runs from Portland in the north to Eugene in the south.
The overarching Willamette Valley region
contains all vineyards including those outside of the sub-AVA’s. Wines labeled
Willamette Valley could also be blends of several vineyards put together, which
is quite common because vineyard sizes are small due to good available sloped
and angled land.
More about the Willamette Valley AVA:
takes a long time to make a great winegrowing region...
Willamette Valley 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 northwest Oregon.
During this period Basaltic Lava flowed right over the top of the Willamette
Valley. Starting about five million years
ago, mass tectonic uplift started to occur, as the North American plate slipped
under the Pacific plate, creating what are now the Coast Range of Oregon. One of the many ripple effects of
all of this land movement was the creation of the Dundee Hills, one of several
AVAs within the valley.
the valley 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 floods were 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. Anything below 300 to 330 feet was a
sedimentary based soil, while anything
remaining above that elevation remained predominantly volcanic Jory soil.
The Willamette Valley has set an impressive
standard for North American Pinot Noir, on par with the world’s best. Local
winery owners have had way; consumers now crave not only Willamette Valley Pinot
Noir, but also wines labeled from one of its many distinct sub-regions.
the uniqueness of certain smaller growing hillsides inside the valley, AVA
designation was requested for six areas in the northern valley, which contain
sixty % of the recently planted acreage of the Willamette Valley. All
these new AVAs have minimum elevations around 200 feet; some also have a maximum
of 1000 feet.
The new AVAs:
Dundee Hills AVA
Chehalem Mountains AVA
McMinnville AVA/Downtown-Old town McMinnville
Dirt on Oregon AVAs