Oregon Wine Production History
The state of Oregon in the United States has established an international reputation for its production of wine, ranking fourth in the country behind California, Washington, and New York. Oregon has several different growing regions within the state’s borders that are well-suited to the cultivation of grapes; additional regions straddle the border between Oregon and the states of Washington and Idaho. Wine making dates back to pioneer times in the 1840s, with commercial production beginning in the 1960s.
With 725 wineries in Oregon, a tourism industry has developed around wine tasting.
Varieties of wine
Like other wines produced in the United States, Oregon wines are marketed as varietals. Oregon law requires that wines produced in the state must be identified by the grape variety from which it was made, and for most varietals it must contain at least 90% of that variety. The exceptions to the 90% law are the following varietals: Red and White Bordeaux varietals, Red and White Rhône varietals, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel and Tannat. For these wines, they follow the Federal guidelines of 75%. Oregon law has long forbidden use of place names, except as appellations of origin. Oregon is most famous for its Pinot noir, which is produced throughout the state. Pinot noirs from the Willamette Valley have received much critical acclaim from wine connoisseurs and critics, and Oregon is regarded as one of the premier Pinot-producing regions in the world.
In 2016 the top five varieties produced in Oregon were:
Pinot noir 17,744 acres (7,181 ha), 45,851 short tons (41,595 t)
Pinot gris 3,705 acres (1,499 ha), 13,601 short tons (12,339 t)
Chardonnay 1,482 acres (600 ha), 4,359 short tons (3,954 t)
Riesling 713 acres (289 ha), 3,095 short tons (2,808 t)
Cabernet Sauvignon 626 acres (253 ha), 1,652 short tons (1,499 t)
With the continuing improvement in the region’s winemaking reputation, ecotourism in Oregon has become a significant industry in its own right. On-site sales are becoming an increasingly important part of the business of Oregon winemaking, and other businesses that cater to wine tourists, such as lodging, fine restaurants, art galleries, have been appearing in places like Dundee, many of which have long been rural farming communities. Wine festivals and tastings are commonplace. It is estimated that ecotourism contributed USD $207.5 million to the state economy in 2013 excluding sales at wineries and tasting rooms. There are approximately 1.8 million visits to Oregon wineries each year, 59% by Oregonians and 41% from out of state visitors. Major events drawing significant numbers of tourists to wine country include the International Pinot Noir Celebration which is held the last weekend of July every year since 1987 and the more recent Oregon Chardonnay Celebration.
Since wine themed events are a significant driver of tourism new ones are launched each year.
Memorial Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend (since 1983) feature open house events at most wineries across the entire state.
¡Salud! is a wine fundraising organization which has held annual November auctions since 1991
The Oregon Wine Experience is in its 14th year.