Willamette Valley Wines: What you need to know and what bottles to try

California, beware: Wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley are enjoying a boom in popularity over the past 20 years. This region, which is Burgundy-like, is producing some of the best West Coast wines today. It’s known for its high altitudes and unique Jory soils. This region is a favourite for those who like their wines more earthy and reserved. It is important to know a little bit about the history of this region and which producers you should buy from. Here’s what you need to know about this region and seven great bottles to try.

What Subregions and Where is the Willamette Valley?

The Willamette Valley can be found in Oregon’s northwestern region. It is 150 miles long and borders Calapooya Mountains, Oregon Coast Range, Cascade Range and Calapooya Mountains. There are nine smaller AVAs: Eola Amity Hills, McMinnville and Ribbon Ridge, Tualatin Hills and Van Duzer Corridor.

How Is Willamette Valley Wine Made?

Willamette Valley wines come in many styles, sparkling and still and in different colours (reds, whites, and roses). Producers pick their fruit at the optimal ripening stage without sacrificing acidity. Oak is generally neutral and restrained.

What Grapes are used in Willamette Valley Wines?

There are many grapes grown in Willamette Valley. However, pinot noir is undoubtedly its most famous. Chardonnay, pinot gris and other varieties are making a name in the region. These three grapes make up more than 90% of all Valley plantings. Also, Gamay is on the rise as well as riesling.

What does Willamette Valley wine taste like?

Wines from the Willamette Valley have a different flavour profile depending on the producer. However, they are generally known for their bright acidity and soft tannins in red wines.

What foods should I pair with Willamette Valley Wine wine?

Wines from the Willamette Valley are versatile and food-friendly due to their fruit-driven nature and brisk acidity. Pairing Willamette Valley pinot gris with roasted vegetables, grilled meats or charcuterie board is a match for heaven. On the other hand, Chardonnay shines with chicken, seared fish and lobster rolls. Willamette Pinot Gris pairs well with salmon and foie gras, while a bottle of Willamette bubbly will delight you alongside any fried food.

These are just a few bottles you should try.

Archery Summit Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

Archery Summit’s cuvée is a stunning expression of pinot noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills. Ian Burch, the winemaker, crafts this wine with great care. The unique fruit of this corner of the globe shines through every glass. You will find flavours of raspberry jam, crushed strawberries, graphite, and a hint of smoke that lead to a long, baking spice-tinged finish. This bottle is perfect for drinking right now or lying in the cellar.

Brick House Pinot Noir Les Dijonnais

Brick House Wines is located in Ribbon Ridge AVA, Yamhill County. The winery’s first block of vines was certified organic in 1990. It has been a leader in responsible farming over the past three decades. The Les Dijonnais Cuvee has floral and slightly spicy notes on the palate. It also contains tangerine, cranberries and dried herbs. The wine is rich and fleshy and finishes bright and aromatic. The wine is perfect now but could be stored in the cellar for a few more years.

Brooks Wines Riesling Willamette Valley

Be sceptical, Riesling fans: This dry, bone-dry expression will captivate your tastebuds from the first sip. This wine is made from fruit harvested from more than 20 years old vines. It is fermented in steel with native yeasts before six months of ageing. The wine is bright and floral with notes of lemon rind, pear skin, lemon peel, and crushed shells.


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