Experimentation, collaboration, revelation. That’s the story of Oregon wine. In the 1850s, Peter Britt first planted Mission grapes in the Rogue Valley, but by the 1870s he had experimented with more than 200 American and European varieties. In the 1960s, David Lett and Charles Coury famously defied convention and began growing Pinot noir in the Willamette Valley; they also cultivated Pinot gris, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sylvaner and more. Today, Oregon’s winegrowers continue to experiment in search of the perfect match of grapes to place. It’s not about forcing the land to follow a trend; it’s about pairing soils, aspect and climate with grapes that will naturally thrive.
Though more than 50% of the wine grapes grown in Oregon are Pinot noir, more than 40% are not. Pinot gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Syrah are all gaining speed and many others are garnering attention from critics. With dozens of micro-climates and soil types throughout the state, Oregon’s grapes—from more than a thousand vineyards—are as distinct as the places from which they hail.