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Oregon Wine

Robert Mathias MW lauds Oregon as one of the finest growing areas of cool-climate varieties in the world




with Robert Mathias MW

Today at almost 16,000ha planted to vine, Oregon has rapidly become one of the most important areas for quality cool-climate varieties in the world. In fact, vineyard area has almost doubled since 2005. Pinot Noir reigns king with around 59% of the vineyard area planted to this variety, followed by Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. It is a community of artisans with 70% of producers making less than 5000 cases of wine a year and 47% of the vineyard area certified with sustainable accreditation. 

Within Oregon, the Willamette Valley (established in 1983 as the state’s first AVA) is home to around two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards. With its many small producers, and varied terroirs, this is the region in the US that most clearly resembles Burgundy.

Many Burgundian estates are also investing in the region due to the high potential quality of Pinot Noir in particular. With a patchwork of soils, increasing focus on single vineyard wines, and artisanal grower community, there are obvious parallels to draw between the two regions. Quality is at an all-time high with recent standout vintages in 2019 and 2021 – it is difficult to imagine a more exciting area for wines with a Burgundian finesse than Oregon right now.

Oregon Terroir

Willamette Valley is located just 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean protected by the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Coastal Range mountains to the west, it is divided into 11 sub-AVAs. It shares the 45th Parallel with Bordeaux but with lower sunshine hours, and cooling influence of the Pacific, the longer ripening hours make this an ideal home for quality cool climate varieties.

There is a great range of terroir across the different appellations from the coarse-grained marine sediment in Yamhill-Carlton to the more volcanic, basalt soils of Eola-Amity located at the bottom of the Van Duzer Corridor.

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