The Willamette Valley is home to several distinct growing regions—most commonly called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Each of these regions boast unique characteristics—whether due to climate, soil content, or other factors—that impart different flavors on the grapes grown in that area. So that’s why a pinot noir produced in the sediment-rich Chehalem Mountains AVA, for instance, may taste different than a pinot noir produced in the cooler, milder Van Duzer Corridor AVA.
So with the Willamette Valley AVA covering our entire region—and seven smaller AVAs within the Willamette Valley—we wanted to introduce you to our unique wine-growing areas. Here’s a bit of background on how our wine is grown, what that means, and where to learn more.
Willamette Valley AVA
The region’s largest AVA—spanning nearly 3.5 million acres between Portland and Eugene—hosts a variety of growing regions and microclimates rich with volcanic soils, wide-open hillsides, lush valleys, and more.
Chehalem Mountains AVA
The 20-mile-long Chehalem Mountains AVA sits at the northern edge of the Willamette Valley. In its ridges, hillsides, and spurs reside three important soil types (basaltic, ocean sedimentary and blown lakebed sediment) for growing grapes in roughly 180 vineyards.
Dundee Hills AVA
The Willamette Valley’s first wine grapes were planted in the Dundee Hills AVA, which remains the most densely planted region in Oregon. Sandwiched between the Willamette River to the south and the Chehalem Valley to the north, the Dundee Hills’ sediment-rich soils are especially known for their pinot noir output.
Eola-Amity Hills AVA
Sitting alongside the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA is known for its shallow, basalt-rich soils—ideal for growing small, sugary grapes. Pinot noir is the region’s dominant grape, but chardonnay and pinot gris are also present.
The McMinnville AVA ranges from the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range in the west to rolling hillsides in the east. Its shallow soils, protected from heavy rainfalls, are well suited to growing pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot blanc grapes.
Ribbon Ridge AVA
Surrounded on three sides by other AVAs, Ribbon Ridge hosts roughly 20 vineyards spread across 500 acres. Its ocean sedimentary soils are protected from marine air and heavy rains, so Ribbon Ridge is known for its pinot noir, chardonnay, and gamay noir grapes.
Van Duzer Corridor AVA
The Van Duzer Corridor AVA sits where marine winds blow into the Willamette Valley, creating a cooler, milder climate than AVAs further north. The windy nature of the AVA means growers can use fewer sprays, which makes it easier to craft organic and biodynamic wines from pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling, and sauvignon blanc grapes.
The 57,000-acre Yamhill-Carlton AVA is home a variety of landscapes—including Oregon Coast Range foothills, low ridges, and the North Yamhill River. The pastoral settings are home to some of the oldest, fastest-drying soils in the Willamette Valley—and have given rise to pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, and other wine grapes.