The AVAs and subzones of the Willamette Valley

As Jancis’s recent article What will fill red burgundy’s place? indicated, the need to find more affordable but still high quality Pinot Noir has greatly increased. Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become one of the go-to regions for Pinot Noir, its reputation being almost entirely defined by the variety. Recent posts on our Members’ forum have commended wines of the area and led to interest in specific recommendations. With these things in mind, I’ve decided to go a little deeper to offer insight on what distinguishes each of the six recognised AVAs within the larger Willamette Valley AVA. Much of what follows concerns the unique growing conditions within these appellations, which lead to insights into what we can expect to find from the wines.

As understanding of the region has increased, unique subzones that are not yet recognised as AVAs have been discovered. Some of those are already in the process of seeking recognition from the TTB; others are still in the development phase. They are discussed at the end of the following guide.

In the section that follows on the six nested AVAs within the Willamette Valley AVA, I have not listed well-known wineries as these can readily be found online via any of the AVA websites, but these emerging subzones do not have websites and are not named on labels, so I have listed some of the key wineries in emerging subzones not yet recognised as AVAs so as to …

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