It has been several years since Willamette Valley vintners finally agreed on a set of six sub-appellations that would give the region's Pinot Noir producers a framework not too unlike that of Burgundy.
Two of the proposed American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) ran into problems with existing wineries, who didn't like the idea of the AVA name being too close to theirs. One was Chehalem Mountains, which was j-u-u-st a bit too close to a winery's name (Chehalem Wines) for comfort. That one is still in limbo.
But now comes word that Eola Hills is a done deal. A name change to Eola-Amity Hills seems to have satisfied Eola Hills Wine Cellars that the new AVA would not be a problem. According to winery sources in the area, the Federal Register should publish the AVA within a week, and the wineries can start using it a month later.
Eola-Amity Hills joins Dundee Hills, McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton and Ribbon Ridge as Willamette Valley sub-districts. Some vintners in the area pooh-pooh the whole idea of AVAs, and don't care for the new sub-districts. They have the right not to use them on their wine labels, but I like the idea.
Winds channeled off the Pacific Ocean through the Van Duzer Corridor make it significantly cooler in Eola Hills than it is in in Dundee Hills or Yamhill-Carlton. Amity Hills is right next to Eola Hills, in an area north and west of Salem. The vintners successfully made the case that Eola and Amity share a similar enough geography and climate.
I find that the wines from the area have a crispness and a sturdiness that isn't so common in other parts of the Willamette Valley.
Once all the pieces are in place and the vintners have a few vintages under their belts using the system, we can make a more intelligent judgment about whether Eola-Amity as an area has enough characteristics in common and is different enough from the other areas to matter. In the meantime, I like having a specific indication on the bottle of where the wine came from.
But I wonder. Is it too confusing to have some wines labeled Oregon, others Willamette Valley, and still others more specific indicators, such as Dundee Hills or Eola-Amity? Some people find Burgundy too complicated. Will the same thing happen to Oregon?
What do you think?
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 16, 2006 3:19am ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 16, 2006 3:22am ET
D Fredman — Malibu, CA — July 17, 2006 11:40am ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 17, 2006 4:55pm ET
Brad Coelho — New York City — July 17, 2006 5:47pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — July 17, 2006 10:53pm ET
John Felty — Ashaway, RI — July 18, 2006 7:11am ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, Maine — July 18, 2006 9:41am ET
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