The Oregon Wine Region
The Oregon Wine Region
In The Beginning
In the mid-1960s when the first vineyards of Pinot Noir were planted in the Willamette Valley, there were virtually no wineries producing vinifera wines in the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Although Oregon made wine in the early 19th century, Prohibition effectively wiped out its wine industry. The Oregon wine pioneers of the Sixties were an iconoclastic crew, fascinated by the challenges of the climate, and the prospect of taming a new wine frontier. Temperamental Pinot Noir was the daring choice. The grape, its growers and winemakers work hard for their money, but it shows to their advantage in the wines. The distinguished white varietal of Oregon is elegant, spicy, crisp Pinot Gris.
Oregon's climate is defined by two conditions: cool growing season and plenty of rain. Uneven ripening is the rule; picking can begin as early as September or as late as November. The Pacific Ocean keeps frost at bay; but can bring lots of rain, fog and wind into the wine-growing regions which lie west of the Cascade Mountains. As a result, growers have to be discerning where they plant. You won't see the wide vineyards tracts that are the rule in California. Oregon vineyards are dotted in pockets here and there to take advantage of the best conditions.
Although the relatively warm Umpqua Valley south of Portland was the site of the very first winery of the resurgence, early growers concentrated their efforts on the cooler Willamette Valley, to the southwest. The Pinot Noirs of the Willamette Valley have consistently shown well in comparative tastings with the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy; so much so that there is now considerable French investment in the region. Pinot Gris is another successful variety, producing fresh, crisp wines that are excellent with seafood. Chardonnay was disappointing for a time, with climate-related leaness and acidity, but has dramatically improved with the introduction of Dijon clones. Plantings of Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Blanc produce fine examples of these less commercially popular, but delicious varieties.
Rogue River Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have found a good home in the much warmer Rogue Valley. Yields will always be small, so consumers who are interested in exploring these wines should be prepared for high quality/limited availability.
These locations have a unique culture, which is something we at The Tipsy Grape value. After you've visited these Oregon wine regions, consider The Tipsy Grape for a set of personalized wine glasses to forever commemorate the long lasting memories you've made. We are proud to create one-of-a-kind engraved wine glasses that are as special to us as they are to the receiver of these beautiful gifts. From restaurants to wineries we offer the best prices or wholesale glasses, so order some today!