Oregon’s wine industry has been built on small wineries producing wines of impeccable quality. The state ranks third in the U.S. in number of wineries, but only fourth in wine production. Oregon winegrowers have identified a range of growing conditions within the state, which is a hotbed of AVA delineation with a steadily growing number of approved appellations, including the Willamette Valley (and its multiple sub-AVAs), Umpqua Valley, Rogue River Valley, Applegate Valley and small sections of Walla Walla and the Columbia Valley. Most of the state’s production is in the northern Willamette Valley, from vineyards on lush rolling hillsides in the foothills of the Coastal Range. In this cool environment, Pinot Noir has made the wine industry justly famous. Umpqua, south of the Willamette, is generally considered a cool-climate region, as Pacific breezes and rainfall nourish the land. Even further south, in the Rogue Valley, a mixture of climates exists. In its sub-AVA, the Applegate Valley, red Bordeaux varietals and Syrah ripen at higher elevations with high diurnal temperature variations, giving these varietals structure. With several more AVAs in the petition process, Oregon has become the leader of appellation consciousness in North America.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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is the Regional Correspondent for Oregon.