If you’re a Pinot Noir lover then Oregon’s Willamette Valley is probably on your short list of the best places in the world of wines. And with good reason! Almost three quarters of the vineyards in the region are devoted to Pinot Noir and Willamette Valley is widely recognized as one of the best places in the world to cultivate this tricky grape.
As far as world wine regions go, this 150 mile stretch of vineyards between Portland and Eugene is a relative newcomer, having produced wines only since the mid 1960s. But the Willamette Valley hosts a diverse and delicious range of wines with the star of the show being Willamette Valley pinot noir.
WILLAMETTE VALLEY APPELLATIONS & GEOGRAPHY
The Willamette Valley is a huge and varied appellation that includes seven nested appellations: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Van Duzer Corridor and Yamhill-Carlton. Buffered from Pacific storms on the west by the Coast Range, the valley follows the Willamette River north to south for more than a hundred miles from the Columbia River near Portland to just south of Eugene. To the east, the Cascade Range draws the boundary between the Willamette Valley’s misty, cool climate and the drier, more extreme climate of eastern Oregon.
At its widest point, this long, broad valley spans sixty miles. Overall, the climate boasts a long, gentle growing season – warm summers with cool evenings; bursts of Indian summer into fall; mild winters followed by long springs. In ideal years the maritime climate provides the best conditions possible for growing the cool-climate grape variety for which Oregon is best known: Pinot Noir.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WILLAMETTE VALLEY PINOT NOIR?
If you haven’t yet tried a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley come on in to see us at Foxcroft Wine Co and we will help you fix that.
If you are already a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir lover, then you will be happy to know we stock at least twenty different Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley on a regular basis so there are plenty of opportunities to taste something new!
Here’s a list of some of our favorite Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs currently available in our stores:
2017 PATRICIA GREEN “MARINE SEDIMENTARY”
You wouldn’t think that these soils ever could have been at the bottom of the sea and yet that’s exactly where they were for a million years or more. The Chehalem Mountains generally offer Pinots of delicate aromatic and fine, lacy texture. One of the masterful names in Oregon Pinot, Patricia Green reds are perfectly balanced and never too heavy.
2015 ANDREW RICH “VOLCANIC”
The deep, iron-rich soils of the Dundee Hills yield a bright and smoky Pinot that seems to crackle with acidity and tangy cherry fruit. While relatively new to the top-tier of Oregon Pinots, we’re very excited about the future of wines from Andrew Rich, all of which represent amazing value.
2015 ST. INNOCENT “TEMPERANCE HILL”
This vineyard is primarily made up of Pinot Noir, with a few acres of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris. With an elevation range of 660 to 860 feet, Temperance Hill is a cool site, providing excellent growing conditions for Pinot Noir. Several top winemakers source from Temperance Hill but St. Innocent is one of the great founding names in the Eola-Amity Hills; look for red pepper and current aromas with a very silken texture.
2015 CORRESPONDENCE WINE CO. “GLENCOE”
From a warm and early vintage in the Willamette, lovers of California Pinot will find a lot to like in this bottle, with generous black raspberry fruit and a mild, smooth texture. The body if medium-full with great length on the finish
2016 EVENING LAND “SEVEN SPRINGS”
One of our very favorite and most popular Oregon Pinots, there’s an impeccable balance here between earth and fruit that calls to mind the best of Burgundy and America.
Have you tried a Pinot Noir from any of these producers? If so, which was your favorite?Are there any on this list that are new to you or that you’ve been wanting to try?
Let us know in the comments below! Or come into the shop and tell us your preferences and we’ll guide you towards one that will suit your palate best.