The Oregon Wine Region in the United States has established an international reputation for its wines. Oregon has several different wine growing regions which are well-suited to the cultivation of wine grapes. Winemaking actually dates back to pioneer times in the 1840s, though commercial wine production began in the 1960s.
American Viticultural Areas - AVA’s include: Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Umpqua Valley, and Rogue Valley. Plus parts of the Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla Valley, and Snake River Valley also lie within Oregon. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are the top two grapes varietals grown in Oregon, with over 16,000 tonnes harvested in 2005 - with the entire region producing over 1.5 million cases combined.
Grapes were first planted in the Oregon region in 1847, with Valley View the first recorded winery established by Peter Britt in Jacksonville. Throughout the 19th century, there were trials with various varietals - and in 1904 an Oregon winemaker won a prize at the St. Louis World's Fair. Wine production stopped in the USA during Prohibition - as in other states, the Oregon wine industry lay dormant for 30 years after Prohibition was revoked.
The Oregon wine industry started to rebuild in the 1960s, when California winemakers opened several vineyards. In 1969 the Oregon Winegrowers Association was founded and by 1970, there were five commercial wineries, with 14 hectares of vines. In the 1970s, more winemakers migrated to the state and started to organize as an industry. The state's land use laws had prevented rural hillsides from being turned into housing zones, preserving a significant area of land suitable for vineyards. In 1979, Eyrie Vineyards entered a 1975 Pinot Noir in the Wine Olympics; the wine was rated among the top Pinots in the world, thus gaining the region's first international recognition.
During the 1980s the Oregon wine industry continued to add both wineries and vineyards. The state also grew strong ties with Burgundy in France - and a leading French winemaking family bought land in Dundee Hills. In the early 1990s, the region was threatened by Phylloxera - winemakers quickly turned to resistant rootstocks to prevent any serious damage. By 2005, there were 314 wineries and 519 vineyards in operation in Oregon. Today Oregon is a world-class wine region with 17 approved wine-growing areas and more than 540 wineries producing wines from 72 varieties - and is the countries 3rd largest wine producer.
Oregon's northerly latitude means grapes get and even ripening season and the crisp, cool nights help grapes retain their freshening acidity. Such a combination achieves mature, balanced flavours and full varietal character and Oregon is home to a stunning variety from; Arneis to Zinfandel.
In the marine-influenced Willamette Valley, cooler climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay ripen well, producing elegant wines with a global reputation. In the warm, elevated vineyards of Southern Oregon and the Walla Walla Valley, heat-loving varieties including; Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and Viognier are crafted into quality wines earning top international reviews. In the Columbia Gorge and Eastern Oregon, varied micro-climates allow winemakers the opportunity of working with the widest range of grape varieties of anywhere in the region.