Willamette Valley

Definition - What does Willamette Valley mean?

The Willamette Valley is a wine growing region located in Oregon in the United States. Known as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), the Willamette Valley includes the drainage basin of the Willamette River, and it extends from the Columbia River to the north to just south of Eugene Oregon where the Willamette Valley ends and from the Cascade mountains in the east to the Oregon Coast Range in the west. The Willamette Valley region is approximately 5,200 square miles (13,467.94 Kilometers) and is the largest AVA in the state of Oregon with the state’s highest density of wineries.

WineFrog explains Willamette Valley

Well known for its production of Pinot Noir, the Willamette Valley is characterized with a cool, moist climate that is moderate all year round. Although the region is so large, not every section of terrain is suitable for wine grape growing. Vineyards are concentrated on the western shore of the Willamette River on the leeward slopes, the coast range and along the river in valley streams created by tributaries of the Willamette River. The soil in the Valley is noted to be exceptionally rich due to the Missoula Floods during the Ice Age which deposited nearly 200 feet of nutrient-rich soil on the valley floor and the hillsides.

The Willamette Valley is divided into six distinct AVA sub-regions that are characterized by differences in climate, soil and elevation:

  • Chehalem Mountains
  • Dundee Hills
  • Eola-Amity Hills
  • McMinnville
  • Ribbon Ridge
  • Yamhill-Carlton

Popular wines produced in the Willamette Valley include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.

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