Willamette Valley Facts & Figures

The History of Winemaking in the Willamette Valley

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Willamette Valley Facts & Figures

How large is the Willamette Valley?

The Willamette Valley is one of Oregon’s seven regions and covers roughly 150 miles between Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range. Included in this region are the cities of Portland, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, McMinnville, and Newberg.

How many wineries are in the Willamette Valley?

There are over 500 wineries, and over 700 vineyards.

What are the notable wines found in the Willamette Valley?

Pinot Noir is the valley’s most famous wine and is prized for its complexity. You can also find excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gamay, Trousseau and more.

How much wine is produced in the Willamette Valley?

The Willamette Valley produces roughly 70% of Oregon’s wine.

When is the best time to visit the Willamette Valley?

While summer offers the warmest temperatures, it’s also the busiest time to visit. Rain is a frequent occurrence any time of year, but is heavier during the winter months. Try visiting in May or September for good weather and fewer crowds.

How much time should I spend in the Willamette Valley?

A weekend will do, but if you really want to get to know the region, leave yourself five days.

What airport should I fly into?

We recommend flying into Eugene Airport. It’s smaller and quicker to get through than the Portland airport.

Do I need a car?

A car is recommended, but you can also explore the valley by Amtrak train or public bus. Keep in mind smaller towns may not have a bus service.

Are there any special events or festivals in the Willamette Valley?

Plenty! In spring, there is the Wooden Shoe Festival, Mount Pisgah Arboretum festival, and the Keizer Iris Festival. In summer, check out the Northwest Art and Air Festival and the Annual Dahlia Festival.

Lett and his wife planted Pinot noir and a few other cool-climate varieties, and their first bottles appeared in 1970. A few years later, many other winemakers in the U.S. followed suit and established their own vineyards in the Valley.

In 1979, Lett shocked the winemaking world when he won top honors at the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades for his 1975 South Block Pinot noir. After this momentous victory, the world started to take notice and Oregon entered the World Atlas of Wine, a definitive guide to wine around the world. In 1983, the Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) was officially established. In 2005, the first sub-AVAs were approved: Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge and McMinnville. A year later, two more AVAs were added: Eola-Amity Hills and Chehalem Mountains.

Today, the Willamette Valley is recognized as one of the top wine destinations in the world with over 500 wineries and 19,000 acres of vineyards. Famous for Pinot noir, Wine Spectator named Colene Clemens Dopp Creek Pinot noir its 7th best wine in 2018.

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