by Ian Kleine

Oregon has a good base in making wine, recognized by most of the country for its top quality wines, comparable to the quality of most French wines. Oregon has different regions divided and separated by soil quality, amount of sunlight received and the climate of the region. Additional areas cling at the borders of Oregon and Washington/Idaho. Wine making has been a very important part of the pioneer life, as it is the only source of alcohol and inebriation during those lonely times.

There are around 303 wineries in Oregon, all boasting unique tasting wines and a tourism industry worth your money. Much of the tours focus in the wineries themselves and private tasting rooms around Yamhill Valley, near southwest of Portland City. The state produces five distinct varieties that are nationally recognized: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Riesling.

Others that are lesser known but are still significantly produced are Cabernet Sauvingnon, Gewurtraminer, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and Syrah. Lesser known wines produced in small quantities are Zinfandel, Viognier, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Petite Syrah, Nebbiolo, Muscat, Malbec, MArechal Foch, Grenache, Gamay Noir, Dolcetto, Arneis, Baco noir, Cabernet franc, and Chenin blanc.

Pinot noir is wine made with the red wine grape species Vitis vinifera. Otherwise known as Pinot noir grapes. Pinot and noir means ‘pine’ and ‘black’ respectiviely, and indeed, it is compacted like the nuts of a pine cone and the blackest of black grapes. Pinot noir grapes grow best in the cooler regions of Oregon, but the grape is more profilic in the Burgundy grapevines of France.

The grapes of Pinot noir variety produce some of the most excellent wines, though it is hard to cultivate and maintain. Pinot noir fetches a high price in the market, with Robert Parker, an expert in wine remarks “When it’s great, Pinot noir produces the most complex, hedonistic, and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world…”

To be continued…

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