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Oregon

Home to some of America’s most celebrated Pinot Noir ...

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Home to some of America’s most celebrated Pinot Noir, Oregon maintains a tight focus on small production, high quality wine even while the state’s industry enjoys steady growth. As a world-renowned wine region, Oregon has more than 700 wineries and is home to well over 70 grape varieties. With a mostly Mediterranean climate, its cooler and wetter regions lie in the west, close to the Pacific Coast.

By far the most reputed region is the Willamette Valley, which is further subdivided into six smaller appellations: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton.

The Valley’s obvious success story is with Pinot Noir, which here takes on a personality that could be described in general terms as somewhere in between the wines of California and Burgundy—and is often more affordable than either one. The best Willamette Pinot noir has a rare combination of red and black fruit, elegant balance, high acidity and rustic earth. While completely enjoyable in their youth, some of the better, single vineyard or appellation-specific Pinot noirs can often benefit from some cellar time.

Other AVAs in Oregon’s west worth noting include Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley.

In the east are Snake River Valley, which overlaps into Idaho, and Columbia Valley, which Oregon shares with Washington. Summers are hot and dry in these regions but winters are cold and rainy.

Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot blanc also grow successfully in Oregon.

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