From the Willamette to the Umpqua, Rougue and Applegate, each of these valleys has something special to offer.
Oregon wine country has become linked to a single grape in a way that is rare outside of Europe. Like the Burgundy region of France, Oregon’s most celebrated wine-growing region, the Willamette Valley, is Pinot Noir country. Climate and geography help explain why.
Unlike Washington State, where the vast majority of vineyards are located east of the rain-catching Cascade mountain range, the majority of Oregon’s vineyards flourish in the rolling hills between the Cascades and the lower-lying Coast Mountain Range, where the weather is cooler and more damp.
Of course, Oregon is no one-trick Pinot pony. South of Willamette Valley, in the warmer, dryer appellations of Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate Valleys, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are catching fire. Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer also have a stake in Oregon’s wine future. Back in Willamette, meanwhile, another Pinot–Pinot Gris–is earning rave reviews in the white grape category.
Oregon is producing some of the best wines around in all categories. Here is a quick rundown of what you’ll find growing in Oregon’s appellations, along with a few recipe recommendations to pair with Oregon wines.