The Chehalem Mountains is a northwest-southeast span of several distinct mountains, ridges and peaks in the northern part of the Willamette Valley. Of all of Willamette Valley's smaller AVAs, it is closest to the city of Portland. Its highest summit, Bald Peak at an elevation of 1,633 feet, serves to generate cooler air for the rest of the AVA and its hillside vineyards. The region covers 70,000 acres but only 1,600 acres are planted to vines; soils of the Chehalem Mountains are a mix of basalt, ocean sediment and loess.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”