Willamette Valley Region Grabs Wine Star Award

By Xyla Joelle L. Fernandez

Nov 12, 2016 06:00 AM EST

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, an esteemed, internationally-recognized wine publication for oenophiles, announced Oregon's Willamette Valley as its 2016 Wine Region of the Year for its annual Wine Star Awards. 

This award validates all of the hard work of each and every winemaker in the Willamette Valley over the course of our 50-year history.  Our region is now the epicenter of Oregon's $3.35 billion dollar per year wine industry with more than 500 wineries.  And in many ways, it's just getting started," said Sue Horstmann, the executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Just over fifty years ago, David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards, planted the Willamette Valley's first Pinot noir.  Others soon joined the quest, giving rise to an entire wine industry known for its world-class Pinot noir and inviting hospitality.

The Willamette Valley finds itself in good international company in the Region of the Year category with previous years' recipients including Lodi, New York State, Pas Robles, Ribera del Duero, Colchagua Valley, Mendoza, Alexander Valley, Rioja, and the Rhone Valley.

The Willamette Valley, Oregon's leading wine region, has over two-thirds of the state's wineries and vineyards and is home to more than 500 wineries.  It is recognized as one of the finest Pinot noir producing areas in the world.  Other cool-climate varieties such as Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürtztraminer are equally at home in the valley.

Nestled between Oregon's Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, Willamette Valley's terrain is varied and huge - more than 100 miles long and spanning 60 miles at its widest point.  The climate boasts a long and gentle growing season, perfect conditions for growing the coll-climate grape varieties for which Oregon is best known.  In fact, the finicky Willamette Valley climate and its soils make it the ideal location for Pinot noir.  So, it's no surprise that more than 80% of Oregon's Pinot noir is produced in the Willamette Valley.

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