Wine Enthusiast Magazine, an esteemed, internationally-recognized wine publication for oenophiles, announced Oregon’s Willamette Valley as its 2016 Wine Region of the Year for its annual Wine Star Awards on November 10.
The Wine Star Awards are some of the most influential in the wine industry, recognizing and celebrating individuals, companies and regions that have made exceptional achievements and contributions in the wine world. Other 2016 nominees for Wine Region of the Year included Champagne, France; Crete, Greece; Sonoma County, California and Provence, France.
“We are humbled by this award, especially as we also acknowledge the great regions who were also nominated for Wine Region of the Year,” said Sue Horstmann, executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. “This award validates all of the hard work of each and every winemaker in the Willamette Valley over the course of our 50-year history. Our region is now the epicenter of Oregon’s $3.35 billion dollar per year wine industry with more than 500 wineries. And in many ways, it’s just getting started.”
“Oregon’s wine industry is largely comprised of small to mid-sized family farms, more than half of which produce fewer than 5,000 cases of wine per year. Winegrowers pour countless hours into honing their craft and tending to their vines to ensure every grape is of the highest quality,” said David Beck, chairman of the Oregon Wine Board.
The Willamette Valley finds itself in good international company in the Region of the Year category with previous years’ recipients including Lodi, New York State, Paso Robles, Ribera del Duero, Colchagua Valley, Mendoza, Alexander Valley, Rioja, and the Rhône Valley.
The magazine will officially award the region at the Wine Star Awards gala on January 30, 2017, in Miami, FL. The region will also be featured in Wine Enthusiast’s December 2016 issue.
The Willamette Valley is also home to two other nominees recognized for their achievements in the wine industry: Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards earned a nomination for Person of the Year, and King Estate, located in the southern-most part of the Willamette Valley, was nominated for American Winery of the Year.
Explore Your Way Around the Willamette Valley
Here’s how to make the most of a visit to the award-winning Willamette Valley with the best upcoming wine events and wine trails to quench your thirst:
Upcoming Oregon Wine Events
Oregon Wine Country Thanksgiving – November 25-27, 2016: Every Thanksgiving weekend, Oregon winemakers invite guests in for a weekend of special tastings and celebrations at the end of the harvest season. 150+ wineries offer special tastings, food pairings, live music, holiday discounts and more.
Oregon Wine Month – May 2017: A whole month of special activities, tastings and promotions take place in the Willamette Valley and all across the state, culminating in the Memorial Weekend event (May 27-29, 2017), one of the region’s longest-running events where more than 150 wineries and tasting rooms will host special events. Taste new wines from your favorite labels, sample from the barrel with winemakers, or savor specialty food pairings and live music. This is a chance to visit some of the region’s smallest producers that are rarely open to the public.
International Pinot Noir Celebration – July 28-30, 2017: This annual summer celebration is famous around the globe as a mecca for lovers of Pinot noir and northwest cuisine. Featuring world-renowned wine makers, chefs, esteemed media, epicures and wine lovers, 2017’s celebration in McMinnville, Oregon, will be bigger and better than ever.
For more events check out the Willamette Valley wine calendar.
Willamette Valley Wine Trails
MountNbarreL: Bringing together two Gorge favourites—cycling and wineries— MountNbarreL is Hood River’s first wine country bike tour company, offering all-inclusive wine-tasting tours. The full tour includes stops for u-pick lavender, berries, vegetables and flowers depending on the season. Owner Ali McLaughlin also offers custom bike tours of the Hood River Valley for up to 17 participants.
Pinot Bingo: Pinot Bingo is a fun, interactive way to tour the South Willamette Valley. Get your bingo card stamped at tasting rooms across the valley. When you complete a row in any direction you’ll receive a signed print from local artist Robert Canaga. Complete the whole card to be entered into a grand prize draw!
East of Eden: The East of Eden wine trail takes you through the boutique wineries and stunning gardens of the eastern side of the Willamette Valley. It’s a perfect trip for those who like the road less travelled.
Pedaling for Pinot: Cyclists or those who like scenic drives will enjoy the Pedaling for Pinot trail in the South Willamette Valley, which takes you to wineries both large and small, located on beautiful country roads. The wineries of the south valley range from large and elegant to small and intimate, and all of them make amazing Pinot noir.
Vintage + Vineyards: Explore Oregon history while you taste your way along the Vintage and Vineyards wine trail. You’ll discover historic places, taste locally grown foods and sip delicious Oregon wines. Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, it’s a trip full of delicious surprises.
7 Beautiful Vineyards Views: Bring your cameras and experience stunning landscapes along with great wine on the Seven Beautiful Vineyards Views trip. You’ll explore wineries from one end of the valley to another on this breathtaking trip.
About the Willamette Valley:
The Willamette Valley, Oregon’s leading wine region, has over two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards and is home to more than 530 wineries and 715 vineyards. It is recognized as one of the finest Pinot noir producing areas in the world. Other cool-climate varieties such as Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are equally at home in the valley.
Nestled between Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, Willamette Valley’s terrain is varied and huge – 150 miles long and 60 miles wide at its widest point. The climate boasts a long and gentle growing season, perfect conditions for growing the cool-climate grape varieties for which Oregon is best known. In fact, the finicky Willamette Valley climate and its soils make it the ideal location for Pinot noir. So, it’s no surprise that more than 80% of Oregon’s Pinot noir is produced in the Willamette Valley. Nearly half of all Willamette Valley vineyards are certified sustainable, making the valley the most sustainable wine region in the world.
For more information about the Willamette Valley head to www.willamettewines.com where you’ll find:
- A map of wineries, accommodations, restaurants, activities and shopping destinations.
- Tasting routes to inspire your next visit
- A list of wineries to explore throughout the region
For more information, interviews and/or high-resolution images please contact: