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Home Wine Regions USA Wine Regions USA Wine Regions - Oregon

USA Wine Regions -  Oregon


Those familiar with typical wine growing techniques are astounded at the qualities of the wines that come from Oregon when they experience the Oregonian climate. Most of Oregon has an atypical grape growing climate. The main growing regions of Oregon are found in Willamette Valley, Walla Walla, Umpqua, Rogue, Illinois Valleys, and Columbia Gorge. In truth, the rainy, cold weather that dominates Oregon makes growing grapes that are ideal for wine making a real challenge.

Even variations in weather that can take place from one year to the next here make it very difficult to adjust growing habits to the area. This means that some years produce great wines and others produce bade wines. Most years produce something in the middle.

The Pinot Noir produced in the Oregon wine region has managed through all of this to attain a reputation for greatness. It is produced mainly in the Williamette Valley. It is ideal for Oregon as the grape ripens quickly. Even in the early wine days of Oregon, this drink was placing high in the Burgundy Pinot Noir in the French Olympiad.

Building on the acclaim of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris has gained quick acceptance among wine enthusiasts. This shows that both red and white grapes from this region are being used to make great wines.

More sensitive wine grapes can be grown in Walla Walla or Rogue Valley. These areas have more sunshine, less rain, and better soil drainage than is typical in the rest of Oregon. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel come from these regions.

If you go to the more southern wine grape growing areas, you will find Syrah taking root. As local growers gain experience, the Syrah is ever improving. To the surprise of many, Syrah production has really picked up along the Columbia River.

Growers are trying to find ways to improve diversity. It is a learning process to grow classic Mediterranean wine grapes in an Oregon climate. Currently vineyards are being grown to produce Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Muller-Thurgau, Grenache, Lemberger, Sangiovese, and Nebbiolo. Given past successes, it should only be a matter of years before these are in heavy production.


Just a generation ago the Oregon wine region had less than four dozen wineries. It now has over $200,000 of production annually. This comes from more than 300 wineries and 500 vineyards on only 13,000 acres of land. The future is looking bright for the Oregon wine region.