Willamette Valley AVA
|Type||American Viticultural Area|
|Years of wine industry||1965–present|
|Sub-regions||Chehalem Mountains AVA, Dundee Hills AVA, Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Laurelwood District AVA, McMinnville AVA, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Tualatin Hills AVA, Van Duzer Corridor AVA, Yamhill-Carlton District AVA|
|Soil conditions||Volcanic origin and weathered sedimentary loam|
|Total area||5,360 square miles (3,430,400 acres)|
|Grapes produced||Auxerrois, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cascade, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, 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|
|No. of wineries||500|
The Willamette Valley AVA (// 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 5,360 square miles (13,900 km2), it is the largest AVA in the state, and contains most of the state's wineries; approximately 908 as of 2021.
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.
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).
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. 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.
There are nine 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
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. It contains two sub-regions, Laurelwood District AVA and Ribbon Ridge AVA.
Dundee Hills AVA
The Dundee Hills AVA in the hills north and west of Dundee. The area is 6,940 acres (11 sq mi) in total size, with 1,300 acres (526 ha) cultivated. 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.
Eola-Amity Hills AVA
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.
Laurelwood District AVA
The Laurelwood District AVA is located west of the city of Portland and lies entirely within the Willamette Valley and Chehalem Mountains AVAs since it was established by the TTB in May 2020. It covers approximately 33,600 acres (13,597 ha) and contains 25 wineries and approximately 70 commercially-producing vineyards that cover a total of approximately 975 acres (395 ha). The distinguishing feature of the Laurelwood District is the predominance of the Laurelwood soil series.
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 (211.7 ha) of vineyards, and includes lands with elevations ranging from 200 to 1,000 feet (300 m).
Ribbon Ridge AVA
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 (1,356 ha) in area, with 500 acres (200 ha) planted on 20 vineyards. It is estimated that between 1,000 acres (405 ha) and 1,400 acres (567 ha) in the region is suitable for planting.
Tualatin Hills AVA
The Tualatin Hills AVA was established in May 2020 and is located in the upland hills of the Tualatin River watershed and encompasses elevations between 200 and 1,000 feet (61 and 305 m). To the south and southeast are the Chehalem Mountains, which includes elevations of over 1,000 feet (305 m), are considered to be a separate, distinct landform from the Tualatin Hills. The AVA is approximately 144,000 acres (225 sq mi) with 33 commercially-producing vineyards covering approximately 860.5 acres (348 ha) and 21 wineries. The distinguishing features of Tualatin Hills are its soils, elevation and climate.
Van Duzer Corridor AVA
The Van Duzer Corridor AVA is located just west of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA covering approximately 59,871 acres (94 sq mi). 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.
Yamhill-Carlton District AVA
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 (486 ha) 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.
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- "Establishment of the Yamhill-Carlton District Viticultural Area (2002R-216P)". Federal Register. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury. October 7, 2003.
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