Northern end of Willamette Valley earns wine designation


Tualatin Hills Viticultural Area a new designation

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It may not mean much to casual wine drinkers, but 144,000 acres of land in the northern end of the Willamette Valley have earned a special designation in the wine world.

Viticultural areas are not household phrases. But if you’re into wine, you know their significance.

The Tualatin Hills viticultural area is land with uniform geographical or climactic attributes. That means the land within the area is similar enough to refer to it as a single grape growing area. Pinot Noir is still Oregon’s king of wines — a lot of them growing within this newly designated viticultural area.

It is special recognition, a nod from the overlords of the wine world that these 144,000 acres of land in the Tualatin Hills viticultural area impart specific climate traits into the grapes grown here.

When it comes to wine grapes and the taste they give off, even a couple miles can make a subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle difference in the taste of wine.

“Some wine grapes really show that and Pinot Noir is one of those wine grapes that is so site-specific that you could taste the difference,” said Alfredo Apolloni with the Apolloni Vineyards.

It gives grape growers a sense of being someplace special. It provides consumers of wine a way to guide them to the flavor profiles they prefer.

There are 21 such grape-growing areas in Oregon — now 9 in the Willamette Valley — each one of them designated because of a unique feature of their microclimate.

“For us, we’re right in the foothills of the coastal range,” Apolloni said. “Those peaks are pretty big. They’re about 4000 feet and that changes our climate here — a little drier, a little more temperate, particularly around harvest time. And those are very important parameters for the grape harvest.”

It’s not much to concern yourself with if you’re a casual wine drinker.

But in the wine world it is one more way to identify the area on a map responsible for growing grapes going into the king category of Oregon wines: Pinot noir — a grown in Oregon product reaching out to consumers around the world.

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