Willamette Valley AVA

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Willamette Valley AVA
Wine region
Willamette Valley Vineyards.jpg
Willamette Valley
TypeAmerican Viticultural Area
Year established1984[1]
Years of wine industry1965–present
CountryUnited States
Part ofOregon
Sub-regionsChehalem Mountains AVA, Dundee Hills AVA, Eola-Amity Hills AVA, McMinnville AVA, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Van Duzer Corridor AVA, Yamhill-Carlton District AVA
Climate regionI/Maritime
Total area3,300,000 acres (13,355 km2)[2]
Grapes producedAuxerrois, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cascade, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Early Muscat, Gamay noir, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Marechal Foch, Melon, Merlot, Müller-Thurgau, Muscat Canelli, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, Tocai Friulano, Viognier[3]
No. of wineries500

The Willamette Valley AVA (/wɪˈlæmɪt/ wi-LAM-it), is an American Viticultural Area which lies in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The AVA is the wine growing region which encompasses the drainage basin of the Willamette River. It stretches from the Columbia River in the north to just south of Eugene in the south, where the Willamette Valley ends; and from the Oregon Coast Range in the west to the Cascade Mountains in the east. At 5,200 square miles (13,500 km2), it is the largest AVA in the state, and contains most of the state's wineries; approximately 200 as of 2006. The boundaries of the Willamette Valley AVA were established in 1984, and since then seven new, smaller AVAs have been created within the northern portion of Willamette Valley AVA. The Willamette Valley has a cool, moist climate, and is recognized worldwide for its Pinot noir.[3]

Although this distinction is not officially recognized, many wine connoisseurs further divide the Willamette Valley into northern and southern regions, the dividing line being the approximate latitude of Salem (approximately 45° north latitude).[4]


The Willamette River Valley

The climate of Willamette Valley is mild year-round. Winters are typically cool and wet, summers are dry and warm; heat above 90 °F (32 °C) only occurs 5 to 15 days per year, and the temperature drops below 0 °F (−18 °C) once every 25 years. Most rainfall occurs in the late autumn, winter, and early spring, when temperatures are the coldest. The valley gets relatively little snow (5 inches (13 cm) to 10 inches (25 cm)) per year.[5] The hardiness zone is mostly 8b.

Not all portions of the Willamette Valley are suitable for vineyards, however, and the largest concentration of wineries is found west of the Willamette River, on the leeward slopes of the Coast Range, or among the numerous river and stream valleys created by Willamette River tributaries. By far, the largest concentration of wineries is in Yamhill County.[6]


There are seven American Viticultural Areas within the Willamette Valley AVA. These smaller AVAs recognize regions within the larger Willamette Valley AVA that have distinctive climate, soil, elevation, or other physical features that make them noteworthy for wine production.

Chehalem Mountains AVA[edit]

The Chehalem Mountains AVA, established in 2006, stretches 20 miles (32 km) from Wilsonville in the southeast to Forest Grove in the northwest. The Chehalem Mountains includes Ribbon Ridge, Parrett Mountain, and Bald Peak. The petition process for the creation of the AVA began in 2001 and was led by David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyard.[7]

Dundee Hills AVA[edit]

The Dundee Hills AVA in the hills north and west of Dundee.[8] The area is 6,940 acres (28.1 km²) in total size, with 1,300 acres (530 ha) planted with grapes. Over 25 wineries and independent vineyards in this region produce over 44,000 cases of wine. The area is particularly noted for its Pinot noir; several wineries in the AVA have won international recognition for their wines.[9]

Eola-Amity Hills AVA[edit]

The Eola-Amity Hills AVA stretches from the town of Amity in the north to Salem in the south. The hills cover an area west of the Willamette River approximately 15 miles (24 km) long by 6 miles (10 km) wide. The Eola-Amity Hills area benefits from steady winds off the Pacific Ocean that reach the Willamette Valley through the Van Duzer corridor, a gap in the Oregon Coast Range, moderating the summer temperatures. The name Eola is a tribute to the windy conditions in the area, and is derived from Aeolus, the Greek god of wind.[10]

McMinnville AVA[edit]

The McMinnville AVA near McMinnville was established in 2005, in the hills to the southwest of McMinnville, roughly running from McMinnville to Sheridan. The AVA includes 14 wineries and 523 acres (2.1 km2) of vineyards, and includes lands with elevations ranging from 200 to 1,000 feet (300 m).[11][12]

Ribbon Ridge AVA[edit]

The Ribbon Ridge AVA, between Newberg and Gaston, is a ridge containing uplift of ocean sediment. It lies at 45° 21' N, 123° 04' W, at the northwest end of the Chehalem Mountains. The name originates in the 19th century. The ridge is approximately 0.25 miles (0.40 km) wide and 3.50 miles (5.63 km) long, and is 3,350 acres (14 km2) in area, with 500 acres (2.0 km2) planted on 20 vineyards.[12] It is estimated that between 1,000 acres (4 km2) and 1,400 acres (6 km2) in the region is suitable for planting.[13][14]

Van Duzer Corridor AVA[edit]

The Van Duzer Corridor AVA is located just west of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA covering approximately 59,871 acres. The Van Duzer wind AVA is known low elevations and gently rolling hills, cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean, and soils which are primarily uplifted marine sedimentary loams and silts with alluvial overlay. The AVA was established in 2019[15].

Yamhill-Carlton District AVA[edit]

The Yamhill-Carlton District AVA in the area surrounding the towns of Yamhill and Carlton. Only grapes grown in vineyards with elevations ranging from 200 feet (100 m) to 1,000 feet (300 m) may be used to produce wines that bear the appellation name on their labels. The AVA includes over 1,200 acres (5 km2) of vineyard, and the region is in the rain shadow of the 3,500 feet (1,100 m) Oregon Coast Range, a short distance to the west. The AVA was established in 2005.[12][16][17]


  1. ^ Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.90 Willamette Valley." Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  2. ^ Wine Institute, The (2008). "American Viticultural Areas by State". Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Appellation America (2007). "Willamette Valley (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  4. ^ "Answers - The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers.com.
  5. ^ Oregon State University: Oregon Climate Zone Summary
  6. ^ "Map page - Oregon's North Willamette Valley wine region and wineries". winesnw.com.
  7. ^ Wines Northwest (2006). Chehalem Mountains Becomes Oregon's Fifteenth American Viticultural Area. Dec. 27, 2006.
  8. ^ "27 CFR Part 9, RIN:1513-AA50, Notice No. 14 "Proposed Dundee Hills Viticultural Area (2002R-218P)" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau:.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  9. ^ Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association Press Kit
  10. ^ Purdue, Andy (2006). "Introducing the Eola-Amity Hills". Wine Press Northwest. Retrieved Jan. 29, 2008.
  11. ^ "Federal Register vol 70 no. 11, Tuesday Jan 18 2005, Establishment of the McMinnville Viticultural Area (2002R-217P)" (PDF).
  12. ^ a b c WillametteWines.com: Willamette Valley AVAs
  13. ^ Ribbon Ridge Vineyard: Ribbon Ridge AVA
  14. ^ "Federal Register Vol 70 No. 104, Wednesday June 1, 2005, "Establishment of the Ribbon Ridge Viticultural Area" (2002R-215P)" (PDF).
  15. ^ Affairs, Media. "TTB | Press Room | TTB Establishes the Van Duzer Corridor Viticultural Area". www.ttb.gov. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  16. ^ "Federal Register Vol. 68 No. 194, Tuesday October 7, 2003, "Establishment of the Yamhill-Carlton District Viticultural Area" (2002R-216P)" (PDF).
  17. ^ "Yamhill Carlton District - Willamette Valley, Oregon". appellationamerica.com.

Coordinates: 45°21′N 123°4′W / 45.350°N 123.067°W / 45.350; -123.067