Oregon wine country (aka Willamette Valley) will turn you into a wine snob. It’s not Napa. It’s not Sonoma. It’s a moderately under-the-radar yet slowly-blowing-up pacific northwest wine heaven which will turn you on to the complexities and interconnectedness of soil and mesoclimates with viticulture and viniculture. Err, maybe that’s just me. It’s also got distinct, complex, really good wine.
The Willamette Valley wine region is located between the coastal range to the west and the cascade range to the east. It includes 19,000 miles of vineyards and over 500 wineries. This region is fascinating and unique because it’s the site of an ancient ice age flood and contains layers of sediment originating from Montana, as well as volcanic soil and a variety of other minerals and organic particles. The geography along with the moderate, cool climate make it the prime location for growing pinot noir grapes. Within the valley there are several different subregions with their own distinct subclimates and soil types, which produce unique families of grapes. These subregions include Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinville, Ribbon Ridge, and Yamhill-Carlton. Within each subregion and at each winery, the winemakers are passionate about explaining the process and sharing their stories and experiences about the fickle pinot noir grape. Seeing the harvest and sampling several different varieties is a must. Pairing local wine with your meal in the region’s cafes and restaurants is a must as well. Don’t forget to take back a bottle of your favorite vintage of pinot noir that was made so complex due to its mesoclimate. 2012 was a good year Boom. Now you’re a wine snob.
These photos are from various places in Dundee Hills, including Wine Country Bed & Breakfast / Armonea wines, Domaine Drouhin, and Vista Hills.