Willamette Valley

In an effort to shed some light on how I study for WSET Diploma Course’s D3 exam, Le Club des Vins is running a series of posts covering wine regions. Today’s topic: Willamette Valley

📍 Location

Willamette Valley is the largest AVA of Oregon and is located south of rainy city Portland. Fun-fact: it’s located on the same latitude (45°) as Burgundy and Bordeaux. Wow, ok. ⠀

In a nutshell

  • United States of America
  • The wettest and coolest AVA of Oregon
  • 60-80% pinot noir

☁️ Climate

Overall, it may be the wettest and coolest AVA of Oregon, frost can be a risk, but summers are fairly warm and dry. It all depends on where you’re located. Is there protection from the cool winds coming from the Pacific Ocean? The Coastal Range Mountains act as a rain shadow here 👏 There’s a gap in the range called Van Duzer Corridor, allowing cold air to pour into the southern part of Willamette Valley.

🌋 Soils

From high fertile soils like loam on the valley floor to volcanic basalt (with or without clay) and loess at higher altitudes. Remember the dry summers? Soils with a water-holding capacity like clay are ideal.⠀⠀

Source: winefolly.com

🍕 Subzones

Because of these geographical differences, the AVA is divided into 7 sub-AVAs: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Van Duzer Corridor and Yamhill-Carlton. Dundee Hills is the best-known and one of the warmest areas.

🍇 Grapes

The dominant variety is pinot noir (60-80%), followed by a bit of chardonnay and pinot gris. Fun fact: David Lett a.k.a Papa Pinot, planted the first pinot noir in Willamette Valley. He’s the man behind @eyrievineyards and has also planted some ‘rare varieties’ like pinot meunier and trousseau. Cool.

💡 Something you didn’t know (did you?)

In Oregon, if the label says “Oregon,” an Oregon county, or an AVA wholly within Oregon, 100% of the grapes must be from Oregon and 95% from that appellation of origin. It is WAY stricter than the 75% and 85% that is enforced federally (see @oregonwineboard)

Your turn now 

I always put a new region on instagram first. If you have any additions or comments on a region, please do share. You can drop a comment on instagram or on the website – see below. Your help is much appreciated!


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