Willamette Valley is located on the west side of Oregon. Sandwiched between the Coast Range and Cascade Range Willamette tends to be a wetter region, and demands a selection of grapes that thrive in the climate. When sourcing for this region we will frequently use Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and cool dry Rieslings, occasionally we may source a unique style Syrah from Willamette, as well. I spent some time in and around Portland in May 2021, following the driest April ever recorded in Oregon. It caused me to wonder what to anticipate from the grapes this year. As we see summer fires cause increasing struggles each year, and create climatic extremes that will assuredly change the way we approach agriculture in the United States I am interested in learning from the vineyard managers what strategies are in place to move through the 2020's.
As of 2020, there are 21 AVA's in Oregon, and 10 of them are Willamette Valley AVA and 9 sub-appellations. I walked through Chehalem Mountain AVA, Dundee Hills AVA, and Ribbon Ridge AVA, all pictured above. I did not go over the hill, to Laurelwood district, north of Chehalem, next trip... In the center of Willamette AVA the Van Duzer Corridor AVA lies west of Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are still the principle grapes produced. The western boundary of the region contains the Tualatin Hills AVA, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and McMinnville AVA.
I am eager to return to Oregon before the end of this year. I don't like to go to wine country around harvest and crush, although it is the tourist heyday, I always feel like I am in the way, and that there is something far more important employees should be doing than talking with me. So likely I will go after fermentation is finished and the wines are oak ageing. I will have the chance to discuss the strategies utilized to prepare for the changing climatic dynamics. Oregon is such an amazingly beautiful state, and I am concerned how the devastating summer will have effected the state.