Chehalem Mountains has been given its own AVA (American Viticultural Area), making it Oregon's 15th delineated viticultural area.
Part of the greater Willamette Valley, the Chehalem Mountains fall just outside of Portland’s southwestern suburbs. The new AVA hosts 31 wineries and growers with 1,600 acres of vines on mostly south-facing slopes.
The mountains are a single landmass with several peaks and ridges forming the highest points within the Willamette Valley.
‘We don’t yet have quantification to back up our empirical suspicions, but daily shifts [in temperature] are greater on the hillsides than on the valley floor,’ said local winemaker David Adelsheim.
Due to these cooler, more stressful conditions, ripening generally takes place three weeks later on the higher hillsides than on the valley floor with most grapes at 200-1000 feet in elevation.
Adelsheim, who was also a driving force behind the grower initiative to obtain an AVA for the region said, ‘it’s an important step in educating consumers on our exceptional region and the characteristics suggested in a wine from the Chehalem Mountains.’
Chehalem growers believe that, like much of the WIllamette Valley, Pinot Noir holds the most potential for quality wines, as well as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
Written by David Furer