PORTLAND, OR, (January 16, 2019) – Oregon wine lovers now have 19 reasons to celebrate Oregon’s acclaimed viticultural bio-regions. Now with the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) having approved the Van Duzer Corridor as an official AVA, or American Viticultural Area, Oregon has 19 winemaking regions—second only to California—with sufficient distinct features to be declared their own unique areas. The Van Duzer Corridor AVA and 18 others are showcased on the Oregon Wine Board’s trade site, each paying homage to their distinctive characteristics, and the Van Duzer Corridor has joined the Willamette Valley’s other six embedded AVAs listed on the Willamette Valley Wineries Association (WVWA) site.
Now that the federal government has approved the AVA, on January 14 bottles with “Van Duzer Corridor AVA” may be printed on labels from the AVA’s seven wineries nested within the Willamette Valley.
There are more than 240 AVAs in the US, yet the complex process in place to approve a new AVA is a mystery to many wine aficionados.
People who live in Oregon, the state with the second highest number of AVAs behind California, can be proud that their region is wonderfully geographically diverse, boasting a unique patchwork of soils and features thanks to volcanic activity, glaciers and ice-age floods.
Having an AVA tells the world that your region—be it tiny or massive—is acknowledged as a special place to make wine. Said Sally Murdoch, communications manager of the Oregon Wine Board, “This AVA, in the context of OR’s overall momentum in the market, shows how globally recognized our region is for superior quality. This new AVA reinforces the continued discovery of new and distinct viticultural characteristics of Oregon.”
“AVA designations take years to achieve as standards are rigorous for proving a region is clearly differentiated and capable of producing grapes of distinction,” she continued. “Each Oregon AVA reinforces the reality that Oregon is a collection of superior grape growing zones,” continued Murdoch.
It also means your soil or sedimentary qualities and naturally shaped landmarks are unique within the winegrowing world. The Van Duzer Corridor winds blow in from the Pacific Ocean to cool off this section of the Willamette Valley and moderate temperatures during the growing season.
“Throughout the anomaly in the Coast Range known as the Van Duzer Corridor, buffering winds
create the perfect paradigm to produce world-class Pinot noir wines that showcase mouthwatering acidity and tension in their tannin expression,” explains winemaker Florent-Pierre Merlier of Van Duzer Vineyards. “These winds also support our desire of sustainability by significantly reducing disease pressure in the vineyard.”
By introducing a cooling influence to flow through the Coast Range, this allows the production of world-class wines in the Willamette Valley and specifically within the 35.9 square-mile triangle that constitutes the new AVA.
For winemakers within the Van Duzer Corridor AVA, they’ll be able to market their wines with their AVA name as a unique sub-brand within a brand. Already known for its premium quality wines, Oregon wine lovers who study up on all seven of the sub-AVAs within the Willamette Valley will now be able to taste the distinct terroir within this special region.
“The approval of this exciting new sub-AVA reflects the hard work of Van Duzer-area winemakers and grape growers and the increasing recognition worldwide for our region’s diversity and unique features,” says Morgen McLaughlin, executive director of the WVWA. “We are excited and proud to share this historical moment for the Willamette Valley.”
Legislative Support of AVAs
The Oregon wine community has long been at the forefront of protecting its wine regions and promoting truth-in-labeling. In 1977 the state approved stricter wine labeling standards than required by the federal government at the industry’s request, among them a requirement that 100% of wine grapes must come from Oregon (vs. 75% federally), 95% from the named AVA (vs. 85% federally), 90% from the named variety except 18 grapes traditionally used in blends (vs. 75% federally). This effort has played a critical role in building Oregon’s reputation for producing exceptional wines that are highly sought after in the marketplace. While the effort to protect Oregon’s appellations of origin has gained more momentum recently, the OWA has worked with wine regions around the world for years to protect wine place names and to promote truth-in-labeling.
In September, under U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-Oregon) leadership, the Senate passed a resolution recognizing the uniqueness and economic value of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and U.S. winegrowing regions. This is a prime example of keeping Oregon’s sense of place intact as it relates to winemaking, but lighting a fire under the TTB was also necessary to get this AVA approved; Oregon’s Congressional Delegation, led by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, played a crucial role in TTB’s approval of Oregon’s 19th federally-recognized winegrowing region after years of delay.
More accolades and AVAs for Oregon’s future
While Oregon is a small grape growing region, responsible for less than 1% of the world’s wine grape acreage, the state’s wines net numerous awards, most recently setting a new record with the Wine Spectator with six wines in its 2018 Top 100 list of wines from all over the globe.
First brought to the TTB almost eight years ago by Jeff Havlin, owner of Fender’s Rest Vineyard, the Van Duzer Corridor AVA covers 59,871 acres and is located 20 miles northwest of Salem. Its nine brands are: Johan Vineyards, Chateau Bianca, Namasté Vineyards, Firesteed Cellars, Andante Vineyard, Left Coast Cellars, Holmes Gap Vineyard, Havlin Vineyard and Van Duzer Vineyards. The AVA also has 18 commercial vineyards, with 1,000 acres of grapes planted.
There are four additional AVAs in the TTB pipeline in the Willamette Valley: Laurelwood District in the Chehalem Mountain AVA; Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon; Tualatin Hills and Lower Long Tom in Benton and Lane counties.
About the Oregon Wine Board
The Oregon Wine Board 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. Visit oregonwine.org.
About the Willamette Valley Wineries Association
The WVWA is a nonprofit industry association dedicated to achieving recognition for Oregon’s acclaimed Willamette Valley as a premium Pinot noir–producing region. The WVWA has more than 230 members representing wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley. Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country and Wine Country Thanksgiving are the two oldest WVWA– sponsored touring events in Oregon. The organization also hosts Willamette: the Pinot Noir Auction, an annual, trade-only wine auction in April. Visit www.willamettewines.com for more info.