Oregon, USA is gaining attention as a top wine producing region. Willamette Valley, located west of the Cascade Mountains and stretching south from Portland, is the most prestigious wine growing AVA in Oregon, with over 2/3rds of the state’s production happening here, along with housing nearly 700 wineries.
The Valley follows the Willamette River for roughly 100 miles, and is only 60 miles across at its widest point. With protection by the Coast Range from Pacific Ocean storms on its western side, the area experiences a long growing season with a moderate climate, which includes dry, sunny days and cooling sea breezes, making it an ideal location for producing premium Pinot Noir.
As the valley is nestled between mountain ranges and also has a series of low hill chains throughout, most of the grapes are grown on slight slopes. It’s the uniqueness found on these hillsides which spurred viticulturalists to press for legally recognized growing areas (American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs). The Willamette Valley now contains 9 specific AVAs: Chehelam Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, Van Duzer Corridor, Tualatin Hills, and Laurelwood District. You can read more about the individual AVAs here.