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Oregon

Oregon wines are a modern-day success story. Winemakers there began experimenting with fine-wine grape varietals just 50 years ago, and today, Oregon wine is recognized for its exceptional quality by wine lovers and experts around the world. The state has become a magnet for small-scale, family-run wineries that focus on quality and sustainability.

Often compared to France’s Burgundy region, Oregon wine country has proved well suited to growing Burgundy’s mainstay grapes – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – as well as the cool-climate grapes grown in France’s Alsace region, particularly Pinot Gris.

Most of the grapes for Oregon wine grow about 60 miles inland from the Pacific coast, between two protecting mountain ranges: the grand volcanic range of the Cascades to the east, and the more modest and forested Coast Range on the west side. The Coast Range provides some cover from coastal winds and rain, and helps keep temperatures in a moderate range.

Yet unpredictable weather changes – cold snaps, cloudiness, frost and spring rain – can make Oregon grapegrowing a challenge. From this struggle to ripeness, Karen MacNeil wrote in “The Wine Bible,” “a wine of utter beauty, focus, and finesse can emerge.”


The wines of Oregon are produced in 16 official American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

Oregon’s largest, and most important, AVA is the Willamette Valley. (A handy pronunciation mnemonic: “It’s Wil-LAM-it, dammit!”) The valley lies between the Cascades and the Coast mountains, and the AVA stretches along the Willamette River some 150 miles from Portland to Eugene. For centuries, it has been the center of Oregon agriculture, filled with orchards and grazing lands. But its long summer days and cool nights are particularly suited for viticulture, as grapes can ripen fully, yet retain their natural acidity. Willamette Valley sub-appellations include Chehalem Mountains, Yamhill-Carlton District, Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills, McMinnville and Eola-Amity Hills.

grapes from Oregon

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