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10 things we love about Oregon wine country

Jacqueline Kirby Zonkowski
Lifestyle grey Dot Wine in Life grey Dot

Oregon wine country is an Adventureland

There are many exciting things to do and learn about Oregon wine country without even sipping wine. Okay, who are we kidding? Pour a glass while taking yourself on an adventure through the Oregon Trail.

1. Hazelnuts and Oregon sparkling wine

One food and wine pairing that is often overlooked is wine and nuts. Many wines, such as Champagne-style sparkling wines, which are often found in Oregon, can have aromatics and flavor notes of almond and hazelnuts. The Willamette Valley is home to many of these sparkling wines, but it is also the largest producer of hazelnuts in the United States. So, make sure to pack some Oregon hazelnuts in your next picnic basket with a bottle of bubbles. 

2. Goats and Oregon Pinot Noir

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine the tranquility of yoga in a picturesque vineyard. Now imagine there are adorable, loving little goats wandering around the class, easing the last bit of stress and anxiety from your body. After your goat yoga class, you can then help yourself to a delightful glass of vino, ensuring that your body and mind are at peace with the world around you. Well, good news. You can do all those things at Troon Vineyard in the Applegate Valley. You can even complete the tranquil experience by staying on-premises in their vineyard VRBO. 

3. Quality wine over quantity

The secret about Oregon wines is out, and people are taking notice. However, Oregon is not mass-producing wines the way many regions worldwide are. In fact, 75% of Oregon wineries produce fewer than 5,000 cases per year. This means Oregon wine producers are primarily family-owned wineries focusing on small-batch, or boutique, wine production. For example, Andrew Brown, head winemaker of Watermill Winery, is a second-generation farmer/winemaker in the Walla Walla Valley. The Brown family has been farming apples in the valley for generations and has expanded their scope to producing fine wines and ciders. 

4. Similarities to France

Oregon’s terroir shares many similarities with France, more specifically, the region of Burgundy where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are found in abundance. Both wine regions sit on the 45th Parallel, equidistant between North Pole & Equator, and share similar maritime weather. The combination of a perfect terroir and some of the most incredible winemakers in the world is why Oregon has been so successful in producing some of the best wines in the world utilizing the same varieties.

5. Strict wine regulations

One of the major distinctions between Old-World and New-World wines is the strict regulations that many Old-World regions must go through to be recognized as producers of a specific varietal and region. Champagne can only be considered Champagne if grown, harvested, and produced in a specific region while adhering to strict guidelines throughout the process. Many New-World countries and regions do not have as strict a governing body to ensure that varietals and growing regions are protected and that the consumer is not misled. That is not the case, however, in Oregon. Oregon has strict labeling laws to ensure the consumer knows what varieties(s) are present in a particular wine and the vineyard, state, county, and AVA in which that bottle was produced and must contain 100% Oregon grapes. When it comes to Oregon wines, you know exactly what you are getting.

6. Sustainable wines

Oregon wine country is a place where winemakers are pioneering the future of sustainable wine production. In 1997, Oregon wine producers joined forces to create the eco-certification LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology), one of the most authoritative sustainability accreditations in the wine world. LIVE is certified internationally by the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), which sets an international standard for sustainable farming practices. There are 13,170 vineyard acres (about 48% of Oregon’s planted vineyard acreage) that are certified sustainably farmed by one of several independent third-party certifying organizations.

7. Exciting wine history

Though considered one of the newest emerging wine regions in the world, Oregon has been producing wine for more than 100 years. While the ’20s may have been roaring in cities like New York and San Francisco, prohibition had a devastating effect on the Oregon wine industry. By the 1960s, there were only a few family-owned vineyards left in Oregon, but that was not to deter the vintners from continuing their proud traditions. Fortunately for wine lovers everywhere, the Willamette Valley and Oregon winemakers are resilient and now boast some of the world’s most complex and well-balanced wines.

8. The grapes

While Pinot Noir accounts for 60% of plantings in Oregon, there are, in fact, over 100 grape varieties that can be found growing in the state. While Oregon’s moderate maritime climate allows for ideal conditions for the Pinot Noir grape to reach its full potential, the cool, wet climate is ideal for many red and even delicate white fruit such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris.

9. Food-friendly wines

Wine and cheese is a pairing that never gets overlooked, and rightfully so. You don’t have to look very far to find wonderful fromage and vino pairings, especially in Oregon. It’s often said throughout Europe that things that are produced and harvested in the same region should be enjoyed together. That holds true for wine and cheesemakers in Oregon, such as Rouge Creamery, who is making incredible Organic cheeses perfect for any wine tasting.

You’ll find that many Oregon wines are food-friendly. We’ve created delicious recipes to pair with some of our favorite wines from Oregon. Try the lemon risotto paired with a rich, lemon-flecked Chardonnay that beautifully accents the flavors of both the dish, and the wine. For an Oregon red wine pairing, our coq au vin will certainly please any crowd. It is the quintessential dish of Bourgogne, Oregon’s old world counterpart, and pairs naturally with the fruity, earthy characteristics of Pinot Noir.

10. Diversity in wine

Oregon winemakers are pioneers, much like the settlers who first planted grapevines on the land in the 1800s. Winemakers in the Beaver State are pioneers in organic wine production, biodiversity, sustainable farming practices, and equal opportunities for winemakers to express themselves regardless of race or gender. There are more female winemakers in Oregon than in the entire state of California despite having only one twenty sevenths of the grape acreage of the Golden State. Isabella Meunier is among the women leading the charge for female winemakers at Aubaine in the Willamette Valley. Meunier was trained in winemaking in Burgundy, France, and is now putting her skills and knowledge to work in Oregon; and is turning out some delicious and highly noted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

 

Learn more about Oregon wines

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About Jacqueline Kirby Zonkowski

As an avid traveler, Jacqueline started finding herself in popular wine regions around the world, fueling her passion for food and wine. When she isn't traveling you will find her at home with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on her face while tasting new recipes with her Chef husband. She received her WSET Level II Certification with Distinction, Argentina Wine Specialist, and Oregon Wine Expert certifications. Jacqueline has worked in the wine marketing and hospitality industry for many years. She continues to increase her wine knowledge and looks forward to creating her own wine one day.

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