Willamette: Articles on Willamette Wine & Wine Regions

Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley: Foods to Pair With, and Meals that Call for, Willamette Valley Pinot

Great Pinot Noir—the Holy Grail of winemakers from France to Australia and the US, and one of the most notoriously difficult grapes to grow. The thin-skinned varietal is susceptible to rot, viruses and diseases and needs a perfectly cool climate and exacting vineyard management to thrive. After the grapes are harvested the winemaker has plenty of decisions to make, including whether or not to fine and filter the wine, how much tannin the final product should have and choosing a precise regimen of oak aging, since Pinot’s delicate flavors can easily be masked by the flavors of wood. It’s easy to make a disappointing, thin-tasting wine from this grape, but really fine Pinot is the stuff of the gods and the combination of ripe fruit and spice flavors, low tannin and high acid make Pinot Noir one of the most food friendly wines in the world.

Willamette Valley: Oregon's Pinot Noir Capital

For many wine lovers, Oregon's Willamette Valley is synonymous with pinot noir, and only pinot noir.  The climate of the mountain-shielded valley is perfect for this famous grape from Burgundy.  Pinot noir not only gave the Willamette Valley its start, it catapulted the region to stardom when a pinot noir from The Eyrie Vineyards took first place in Gault-Millau's 1979 Paris wine tasting.  And, as they say, the rest was history – or is history, for the Willamette Valley is still evolving as a wine region.

Pinot Gris: Oregon’s Second Wine

The southern Willamette south of Eugene has a special place in my heart.

My first visit was in 1992 when I house-sat for friends on the mid-Oregon coast in Florence. I took a day trip inland and just for fun decided to drop down south and check out the wineries. My expectations were not high. At that point, I was still a bit of a California snob.

Picking Your Pinot

Living here in Seattle, I admit I’m among the many that are proud of our famous wine regions and wines. Since I love to vacation on the Oregon coast, I find myself in the upper Willamette/Yamhill AVA a couple of times a year. This area is conveniently located along Route 18, the road leading from Portland to the coast, and it’s easy to hop on and off the freeway to visit a variety of wineries.
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