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New Oregon wine appellation ‘Mount Pisgah’ is created

Oregon wine fans officially have a new ‘appellation' to explore after US authorities approved the state's latest American Viticultural Area (AVA), with a focus on Pinot Noir.

Oregon has got a 23rd AVA after ‘Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon’ was created this month following approval from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Lying around 15 miles west of Salem, the new appellation zone sits within the broader Willamette Valley AVA.

Its lengthy official name was created to prevent confusion with another Mount Pisgah, in Lane County.

Morgen McLaughlin, executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, said it was an exciting development: ‘The region’s kingpin variety, Pinot Noir, is such an expressive grape: it insists on telling you where it’s from, he said.

‘Both the industry and consumers who look to Oregon for its one-of-a-kind appellations and the sense of place in Oregon’s wines can celebrate the addition of Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon.’

Alongside Pinot Noir, the most common grape varieties in the new AVA are Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Tempranillo. There are around 236 hectares (584 acres) planted to vines.

It’s more than five years since Brad Ford, of Illahe Vineyards and Winery, petitioned the TTB to create the new Mount Pisgah appellation.

Illahe is one of the AVA’s three current wineries, along with Open Claim Vineyards and Amelie Robert Estate, according to Willamette Valley Wineries Association and the Oregon Wine Board.

They also listed 10 vineyards, including the estate vineyards of the three wineries above and also encompassing:

  • Ash Creek Vineyards
  • Erratic Oaks Vineyard
  • Freedom Hill Vineyard
  • Croft Vineyards
  • Fern Creek
  • Mistletoe Vineyards
  • Cooper Hollow.

The new AVA ‘is characterised by the warmth of the nearby Willamette River, the mild influence of the Van Duzer winds, and the rain shadow of Laurel Mountain to the west’, said the Oregon Wine Board and Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

Mount Pisgah was formed 65 million years ago as a sea floor volcano and the new AVA is known for its ‘marine sedimentary’ soil, the organisations said.

Ford said, ‘Thanks to an excellent group of growers who helped identify the most important aspects of our little mountain, I have no doubt we will continue to work together to build a beautiful destination for people willing to go the extra mile.’

Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon AVA follows the creation late last year of Lower Long Tom AVA, which also sits within the broader Willamette Valley appellation.

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