Known for its scenic mountains, rivers, and valleys, Oregon is one of the most significant stars in the sky of American wines. Oregon has won numerous awards for thriving and nationally recognized wine producers.

The history of wine in Oregon dates back to the 1840s, however commercial wine production did not start-up in the state until the 1960s. Oregon, like Burgundy, is located at latitude 45°, which means that the climate of the two wine regions is very similar. This is one of the key elements of Oregon wines excellence.

Six wine regions

Oregon is the home to a total of six wine regions (AVAs): Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley, Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley in the west. Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley are located in the north. The more important western wine regions are separated from the ocean by the north-south Coast Range. This provides protection against the effects of the vast body of water. In the east, the Cascade Range, which climbs to an altitude of 4,000 meters, encloses the wine regions in a valley. These geographical conditions make the area suitable for viticulture. Oregon has a total vineyard area of about 6,000 acres.

The most famous growing area is unquestionably the Willamette Valley. This region is home to a number of award-winning vineyards. It is located south of the city of Portland. There we tend to find such great grape varieties as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling. In the southern Umpqua Valley, summers are slightly warmer and there is less autumn rainfall. The main grape varieties of Umpqua Valley are Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. In the southernmost, much warmer and drier Rogue Valley and the recently detached Applegate Valley, predominantly Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc, and Merlot are grown. However, we can also find Syrah and Zinfandel.

Due to their excellent properties and characteristics, it is mandatory to taste Oregon wines. It’s a mistake to miss out.

Photo credit: Rick Obst