Portland, Ore. (November 10, 2016) Today, 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.

The Wine Star Awards are viewed as some of the most influential in the wine industry. Each year since 2000, the editors of Wine Enthusiast recognize and celebrate 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.”

“This award is the direct reflection of the attention and care given by Oregon’s grapegrowers and winemakers from vine to bottle,” said David Beck, chairman of the Oregon Wine Board. “Oregon’s wine industry is largely comprised of small to mid-sized family farmers, more than half of who produce fewer than 5,000 cases of wine per year, who pour countless hours into honing their craft and tending to their farm to ensure every grape is of the highest quality.”

Just over fifty years ago, David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards, planted the Willamette Valley’s first Pinot noir. Others soon joined the quest, giving rise to an entire wine industry known for its world-class Pinot noir and inviting hospitality.

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 Jan. 30 in Miami, FL. The region will also be featured in Wine Enthusiast’s December 2016 issue.

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 500 wineries. 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 – more than 100 miles long and spanning 60 miles 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.

About the Willamette Valley Wineries Association: The WVWA is a non-profit industry association dedicated to achieving recognition for Oregon’s acclaimed Willamette Valley as a premier Pinot noir-producing region. Currently, the WVWA has more than 225 members representing wineries and tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley region from Portland to Eugene. The association organizes Memorial Day Weekend and Wine Country Thanksgiving, the two largest wine touring events in the region each year, as well as the popular Pinot in the City road show series. The WVWA also publishes an annual guide to wineries with a touring map. For more information, please visit www.willamettewines.com, call 503.646.2985, or follow on Twitter @wvwines and on Facebook.

 About the Oregon Wine Board:

The Oregon Wine Board (OWB) is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. To learn more, visit www.oregonwine.org.