Willamette Valley named 2016 wine region of the year

 

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By Michael Russell | The Oregonian/OregonLive ; photo credit David Krug

America at large is starting to pick up on something Oregonians have known for years.

Earlier this month, Wine Enthusiast magazine named the Willamette Valley its 2016 wine region of the year, noting the valley’s impressive outside investment while praising its Burgundian-quality pinot noir.

In a twist for Oregon, the magazine’s award focuses on the Willamette Valley’s history, starting with the first Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris plantings from Eyrie Vineyards’ David Lett, then retelling the tale of Eyrie’s South Block Pinot Noir placing in the top three at 1979’s prestigious Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiad. As for the present, the magazine references the glut of money to flood the region, first from France, and more recently from California.

“No producer has jumped in more aggressively than Jackson Family Wines. Beginning with its 2013 purchase of 1,385 acres of established vineyards, the company has quickly built a portfolio, purchasing Penner-Ash and WillaKenzie. Jackson Family Wines also bought Solena’s winemaking facility and vineyard (though brand ownership remains with Laurent Montalieu) and is now developing Oregon headquarters and winemaking facility in McMinnville.”

Earlier this month, The Oregonian/OregonLive toured the Willamette Valley, offering this guide to where to stay, eat and drink in advance of the many winery open houses over Thanksgiving weekend.