Mount Pisgah Is Oregon's Newest Wine Appellation

U.S. government approves new American Viticultural Area in southern Willamette Valley, a prime spot for Pinot Noir planted in volcanic soils

Mount Pisgah Is Oregon's Newest Wine Appellation
Illahe Vineyards and Winery enjoys a prime spot in the new appellation, and owner Brad Ford made a big push for the designation. (Courtesy Illahe Vineyards)
Jul 11, 2022

Oregon Pinot Noir country has a new wine appellation. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved the Mount Pisgah American Viticultural Area (AVA) on June 3, and the designation went into effect July 5. The approval brings the total number of appellations in the Beaver State to 23.

Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon—the AVA's official full name—is the second-most southern subappellation within the Willamette Valley, next to Lower Long Tom, which was approved in November 2021. Mount Pisgah is southwest of Eola-Amity Hills and Salem, the state capital. (The long name is meant to avoid confusion with another Mount Pisgah in a different county.)

Encompassing 5,530 acres, Mount Pisgah is the second-smallest AVA in Willamette Valley, but with 584 acres of vines, it is one of the most densely planted. The region includes three existing wineries and 10 vineyards, including the highly regarded Freedom Hill, which is bottled as a single-vineyard wine by Ken Wright, Patricia Green, St. Innocent and other wineries.

Brad Ford of Illahe Vineyards and Winery petitioned the TTB for the appellation more than five years ago, noting that it has a distinct climate, warmed by the Willamette River and cooled by Van Duzer Corridor winds and the rain shadow of nearby Laurel Mountain. Mount Pisgah was formed 65 million years ago as a volcano on the floor of an inland sea and it has shallow soils that are rich with marine sediment.

Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes in the region. "Recognition of Mount Pisgah, Polk County, shows again how we continue to learn about and appreciate new areas of viticultural distinction in Oregon," said Tom Danowski, president of the Oregon Wine Board.

Oregon appellations]
The new appellation sits south of Salem and the Eola-Amity Hills in the heart of Willamette Valley. (Courtesy Oregon Wine Board)

Where can you order wine from? Check out Wine Spectator's comprehensive guide to state shipping laws.

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