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Oregon wineries, Wines and Wine Country

MAY is
Oregon Wine Month

      Oregon's northern latitude brings long hours of summer sunshine to its more than 20,000 vineyard acres, allowing a wide variety of wine grapes to grow throughout the many winegrowing regions of the state.  In the western part of Oregon, occasional marine breezes breach the Coastal range and help moderate the climate in inland valleys, causing the ripening process for wine grapes to be gradual.  The combination of these conditions encourages complex fruit flavors, aromatics and nuances in Oregon-grown wines and complexities that allow Oregon wineries to compete well with other world-class wineries.

       Oregon wineries are generally small and decentralized within official wine regions of the state.  Most locate in valleys between the Cascade Mountains (stretching the entire length of the stateThe Red Hills of Dundee in Oregon's Willamette Valley appellation) and Oregon's Coastal Range to the west.  As their numbers grow, however, wineries throughout Oregon's wine growing regions are tending to choose locations near established wineries making it more attractive and convenient than ever for visitors to stop in at multiple wineries each touring day.  

Choose a Region

     The northwest portion of Oregon wine country is celebrated for its cool-climate grape varieties, including Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, and especially Pinot noir.  The Southern Oregon appellation (AVA) starts south of Eugene and includes the Umpqua Valley AVA, the Red Hill Douglas County AVA, the Elkton Oregon AVA, the Applegate Valley AVA and the Rogue Valley AVA, all of which are located west of the Cascades and east of the Coast Range. 

       The regions of Southern Oregon, along with the eastern portion of the Columbia Gorge AVA, are generally much warmer and significantly drier than those of the northwestern quadrant of Oregon State where the pinot noir vineyards of the Willamette Valley AVA thrive. 

     It wasn't until early 2005 that the significantly warmer terroir of southwest Oregon was given its due for its distinctly different wine growing area, and the federally authorized Southern Oregon American Viticultural Area was established with its boundaries set to encompass the previously authorized regions of the Umpqua, the Applegate and the Rogue valleys. 

       Southern Oregon offers a rich variety of  "micro climates" as does the eastern portion of the Columbia Gorge AVA.  The breadth of terroir types in these regions makes it possible to grow a wide variety of grapes sometimes within only miles of each other.  Distinctive vineyard locations in these areas are capable of nurturing high-quality Bordeaux and Rhone grape varieties, as well as French Burgundian varieties such as Pinot noir and Chardonnay.  

Note:  The Columbia Gorge AVA straddles the Columbia River and includes portions of both the Oregon and Washington State.  The area was authorized as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) for both states in June 2004.


See the most recent map of Oregon AVAs from Oregon Wine Center


      The Willamette Valley AVA/appellation is Oregon's largest wine region, stretching from Portland in northern Oregon to Eugene, more than 100 miles.  Most of the region's wineries are located west of Interstate 5.  The largest concentration of  Oregon wineries is located in the Northern portion of this region.  

    When the Willamette Valley AVA was first authorized 1984, its geographic description included some 3.3 million acres!  Twenty years later, winemakers and wine growers succeeded in submitting applications for approval of six sub appellations within the Willamette Valley, appellations that describe micro climates proven over the years to be distinct from the Willamette Valley as a whole and suited for the growing of wine grapes.  McMinnville Foothills, Dundee Hills, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton were all authorized as official American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in the first quarter of 2005.  The Eola-Amity Hills District was authorized later that year in August, and the Chehalem Mountain AVA became official on December 27, 2006.

       In February 2005 federal authorization was passed for the Southern Oregon AVA.  It was distinct from other recent State-AVA designations in that it defined a kind of macro appellation that completely encompasses previously authorized appellations.  The Umpqua Valley (1984) and Red Hill Douglas County (2005) AVAs, the Rogue Valley AVA (1991) and the Applegate Valley AVA (2001) now all lie within the boundaries of the newer two-million-acre appellation of Southern Oregon in the southwest portion of Oregon State. 

       Appellations on the east side of Oregon's Cascade Mountains include only a small, southern portion of the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley AVAs and only three Oregon wineries, but there are plenty of vineyards.  If you plan to drive from western to eastern Oregon, you might want to use Interstate 84, which uses the sea-level path of the Columbia River to traverse the Cascades.  You'll drive through the newly authorized Columbia Gorge Appellation and find several wineries to visit.  Outside official state appellations, there are just a few more eastern Oregon wineries.


    Learn about Washington wineries located in wine regions shared with Oregon -- Columbia Valley wine region, Walla Walla Valley wine region, and the Columbia Gorge wine region.


Touring Oregon Wine Regions

  The map and links below allow you to explore the wineries of each wine region within Oregon, as well as a few outside official appellations. You will also find details about nearby lodging and dining in each region, special events and touring opportunities.

Click on the Oregon region of your choice.
       
      
    Link to Oregon's Umpqua Valley Wine Region   
         Oregon Wine - Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley Appellations 

Appellations Shared with Washington

Link to Columbia Gorge wine country map  Oregon Wine - Walla Walla Region  
    Columbia Valley Region's link   

Appellation Shared with Idaho


 

Map with overview of Oregon Wine Regions

Wine varietals & still wines info:

Burgundian and Alsatian varietals such as
Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, 
Pinot gris, Pinot blanc 
and Gewürztraminer

Bordeaux & Rhone varietals
(grown mostly in Southern Oregon):
Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah,
Sauvignon blanc, Tempranillo

Other wine styles:

Sparkling wines, Red blends, White blends,
Port wines, late-harvest wines, ice wines 
and fortified dessert wines

 

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Copyright © 1997 - April, 2014 Susan R. O'Hara.
All rights reserved.
Last revised:  04/15/2014 

Oregon Wine Facts

Number of Wineries

2013 - 544
2012 - 500±
2011 - 419
2010 - 400
2008 - 350+
2005 - 303
2003 - 250
2001 - 174
2000 - 135
1990  -  71
1986  -  47
1980  -  34
1976  -  11
1970  -   5  

Vinifera Acreage
Planted
 2011 - 20,000+
2009 - 19,600
2008 - 19,300
2007 - 17,400
2006 - 15,600
2005 - 14,100
2003 - 13,400
2002 - 12,100
2001 - 11,100
2000 - 10,500
1999   -  9,800
1991  -  5,950
1990   - 5,682
1980   - 1,100
 1972   -    200  
 1968    -   100  

(1st planting of Southern
Oregon vinifera grapes
in 1959)

Wine Sales

2010 Sales
1.9 million cases
2009 Sales
1,660,202 - cases
2008 Sales
1,748,282 - cases
2007 Sales
1,711,532 cases
2006 Sales
1,590,357 cases
2003 Sales
1,199,086 cases
2001 Sales
1,000,000+ cases
1999 Sales
777,890 cases
1994 Sales
612,512 cases

Major Varieties
(Sorted by 2009 Production)

Pinot noir, Pinot gris,
White Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot blanc, Gewürztraminer

Additional Varieties

Arneis, Baco noir,
Cabernet franc,
Chenin blanc, Dolcetto,
Gamay noir, Grenache,
Malbec, Maréchal Foch, Müller-Thurgau, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Petite Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese,
Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, Tempranillo, Viognier, Zinfandel

Ratio of Red to White 2009 production:

63.6% / 36.4%

OFFICIAL AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS OF OREGON

Willamette Valley AVA
(1983)

Sub Appellations of the
Willamette Valley AVA

Dundee Hills
(2005)
McMinnville Foothills
(2005)
Ribbon Ridge
(2005)
Yamhill-Carlton
(2005)
Eola-Amity Hills District
(2005)

Chehalem Mountain
(2006)

Southern Oregon AVA
(2005)

Sub Appellations

Applegate Valley
(2001)
Elkton Oregon
(2013)

Red Hill Douglas County
(2005)

Rogue Valley
(1990)
Umpqua Valley
(1984)

Shared with
Washington State

Columbia Gorge AVA
Columbia Valley AVA
Walla Walla Valley AVA

Shared with Idaho

Snake River Valley