The Savory Grape is traveling! Hello from Oregon.
Last week, I was lucky to spend three days exploring Oregon wine region’s uniqueness in climate, geology, and getting to know its fabulous people. What an outstanding and educational trip it was. When I was getting ready to hit the road, I knew that something special going to come out of this trip. First impression was what a beautiful wine country we have here. Landscape, food and of course all the wines I tasted were just unforgettable!
Let’s talk about what I learned from this beautiful terroir. Geologically, until about 12 million years ago, Western Oregon was on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Before that, for 35 million years under the sea, it was slowly accumulating layers of marine sediment – the bedrock of the oldest soils in the Willamette Valley. Many years later, the Willamette Valley continued to buckle and tilt under pressure from the ongoing coastal collisions, forming the interior hill chains that are typically tilted layers of volcanic basalt and sedimentary sandstone, such as the Dundee Hills and Eola Hills. This makes it a great reason for Oregon’s wine pioneers to discover this beautiful wine region!
Oregon is a relatively small wine industry, even though the state is third in number of wineries and fourth largest in wine volume in the U.S., its approach to viticulture, winemaking and marketing is personal, handcrafted and they like to keep it that way.
Oregon is a large state with seven major growing regions and 23 approved American Viticultural areas (AVAs). Pinot Noir is the most important variety in the Willamette Valley, though there are plantings in the Umpqua and Rogue Valleys, Columbia Gorge, and Columbia Valley. Approximately 81% of the state’s Pinot Noir is produced in the Willamette Valley. Those who try Pinot Noir from Oregon most likely will be drinking a wine from this area. The region also grows Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grape varieties and many more grapes to experimented by the grape growers. As the Savory Grape, we are always searching for new wines comes from uniqueness of this region and hoping to have them in stock soon.
Oregon’s wine pioneers came to the Willamette Valley looking for the perfect place to grow Pinot Noir, as its a place where long hours of summer sun combined with cool temperatures at the beginning and end of the growing season. Wine grapes ripen slowly here, with a long period of flavor development at the end of the growing season and harvest in late September or early October. I was lucky to meet two family who started growing Pinot Noir in this fantastic wine region. Please see my photos below with David Adelsheim from Adelsheim winery and Pat Dudley from Bethel Heights winery.
Innovation, invention, curiosity, keen observation, energy, and dedication are all characteristics of the Oregon wine industry. In the vineyards, every phase of grape growing, from the soil itself to consideration of the weight impact of tractors on the soil, has been and continues to be examined in serious, sometimes painful, detail. Inside the wineries, the same sort of reevaluation, rethinking and searching is constant. Many vineyard and winery practices now common in the U.S. were originally explored, innovated, and refined in Oregon. Below, you will see some of my photos taken while learning about the soil. During day seminars took place in the vineyards, which I enjoyed learning about why they picked certain sites to grow grapes and learning more about layered soils filled with rich minerals.
I can write or talk about my experience with Oregon’s wine region many more hours. Please stop by and let me know if you have any questions. I can’t wait to recommend some delicious wines from Oregon to you. Cheers!
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