Oregon refines regional distinction

A group of Oregon winemakers is working to create a seventh American Viticultural Area (AVA) for the Willamette Valley.

The view from Johan Vineyards towards the Eola Amity Hills

“We’re currently working on creating our own AVA,” confirmed Norwegian-born Dag Johan Sundby, who set up Johan Vineyards in 2002 in a hilly outcrop which looks towards the Eola-Amity Hills. At present, his wines fall under the larger scale Willamette Valley AVA.

For the moment, he admitted, “we’re not sure what we’re going to call it,” but a 12-strong group of wineries is busy gathering weather data and soil analysis to support their belief in the region’s distinct character.

In particular Sundby pointed to the cooling impact of the Van Duzer corridor through the Coastal Range, as well as the area’s granitic, shallow soil brought in by the Missoula Flood at the end of the last ice age.

Although the Oregon wine industry began to establish itself in the 1960s, the Willamette Valley, where the majority of the state’s wine is produced, only applied for official appellations 10 years ago.

Explaining why it took until 2002 for the first applications to be submitted, Harry Peterson-Nedry, owner of Chehalem and the first to plant vines in what is now the Ribbon Ridge AVA, explained: “People thought that trying to define AVAs might become divisive; we pride ourselves on being a family.”

In the end, each region agreed to send off their application forms together, with approval coming back in 2005 and, reported Peterson-Nedry, “We’ve found since then that we all still work very well together.”

This evolution marked an important phase in Oregon’s ongoing work to define an identity for its wines, especially the Pinot Noir on which the state’s reputation is founded.

“Until we have quantitative data this quickly devolves to a marketing conversation,” observed David Adelsheim, co-owner of Adelsheim Vineyards, who highlighted the value of events such as the trade’s annual Oregon Pinot Camp for advancing this discussion.

This year saw a further boost to Oregon’s refinement of its identity with the arrival at Oregon State University of Dr Elisabeth Tomasino, who has previously carried out research into the sensory differences of regional New Zealand Pinot Noir.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Retail Manager

Friarwood Fine Wines
SW London, UK

Assistant Manager

Seven Cellars
Brighton, UK

Key Account Manager

MMI Dubai
Dubai, UAE

Head of Supply Chain

Lanson International UK Ltd
London W1, UK

National Account Executive

Home Based working in Central Belt. Glasgow/Edinburgh, UK

Global Brand Manager - Ableforth’s (Bathtub Gin etc)

ATOM Supplies
Tunbridge Wells, UK

Trade Sales Manager

Wine Source Group
Central London, UK

Prowein 2018

18th Mar 2018

The City Wine Show

London,United Kingdom
13th Apr 2018

Prosecco Springs

London,United Kingdom
26th Apr 2018
Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2018

Deadline : 19th March 2018

The Prosecco Masters 2018

Deadline : 19th March 2018

Click to view more

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

the drinks business is proud to announce the inaugural Global Malbec Masters 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters.

Click to view more