The Willamette Valley AVA sits inside the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It spans from the Columbia River in the north to the southern tip of Eugene and from the Oregon coast on the west to the Cascade Mountains in the east. It is the largest, and most popular, of Oregon’s AVAs: it’s 5,200 square miles (150 miles long and about 60 miles wide) and contains over 200 of Oregon’s 700+ wineries. Willamette contains six sub-AVAs: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton.
I’m traveling north with my wine reviews this week, leaving my home state of California to explore the terrain of Oregon. The history of Oregon wine isn’t unlike our own. The first plantings can be traced back to the pioneer days of the 1840s during the settlement of the “Oregon Territory.” The first official Oregon winery was Valley View, built and run by by Peter Britt in the late 1850s in Jacksonville — a Gold Rush town highly populated with settlers from both American and abroad.
I bought this on a whim. Maybe it’s because I’m reading Passion and Pinot and the main characters are on their way to Oregon. Maybe it’s because the first wine that truly touched my heart was from Willamette. Or Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time studying the wines closest to home (Napa and Sonoma) that I felt like venturing across state borders. So it is with that notion that I present my first step onto the Oregon Trail of Wine.
I’m really starting to fall in love with Oregon wines. At first I thought it was just a Pinot-thing (shout out to Patricia Green my first wine love), but they’ve got a good selection of varietals up north. And here’s another primo example of New World Wine amazingness from Oregon: Joel Gott’s 2014 Pinot Gris. Cheers!
Evening Land 2010 Pinot Noir is one of those wines kept in the cellar to age and enjoy at it’s prime of life. Best between 2013 and 2019, I thought a 2016 experience of this wine would be ideal. But I’ll tell you right now, it wasn’t just ideal, it was perfection…