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Oregon Pinot Not Exclusive to the Willamette Valley

Most of Oregon’s Pinot Noir vineyards and producers are located in the Willamette Valley region. However, small pockets of appropriate microclimates for Pinot Noir have been established and are still being discovered and exploited in the Columbia River Gorge region in the northern reaches at the Oregon and Washington border and the Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley in the southern part of coastal Oregon. The Rogue Valley is tucked into the southwest corner of Oregon and the appellation is defined by three mountain ranges: the Klamath Mountains to the west, the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Siskiyou Mountains in between. The region is perhaps best known for the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland and whitewater rafting on the Rogue River that courses through the appellation.

There are multiple varietals grown in the varied terroirs of the Rogue region. Pinot Noir is most successfully grown in the cooler Illinois Valley which is similar in climate to the Willamette Valley. The most visible wineries are Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery which dates to 1986 and is Oregon’s larger wine producer and Foris Vineyards Winery with plantings dating to 1975.

Del Rio Vineyards and Winery is a newer Rogue producer located along the Rogue River in Gold Hill between Grants Pass and Medford. Del Rio began as a small homesteaded community known as Rock Point, founded by J.B. White in the 1850s. He subsequently sold the property to L.J. White who built the Rock Point Hotel which was used as a stagecoach stop. By the turn of the century, the hotel had closed. F.K. Deuel and others bought the hotel and surrounding land and developed an 800-acre orchard known as Del Rio Orchards. The Rogue Valley became well known for pears grown at Del Rio Orchards. In 1997, Californians Lee and Margaret Traynham bought the land and resurrected the property including the hotel which is one of the oldest structures in Southern Oregon. They transformed the pear orchard into wine grape vineyards and now have over 200,000 vines, twelve varietals and 17 clones. Del Rio currently supplies premium wine grapes to over twenty vintners in Oregon and California.

2007 Del Rio Vineyards Rogue Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., $28. Dijon clone 777 on 3309 rootstock at 1,089 vines per acre. The winemaker is Frenchman Jean-Michel Jussiaume. Premier release of own label Pinot Noir after growing grapes for others for years. · Appealing aromas of cherries, berries, vanillin, sawn oak and wet earth which are repeated in the medium weighted flavors. Nicely composed, smooth in the mouth and elegant with a ripe fruit aromatic finish that leaves a bit of oak in its wake.

Del Rio wines are sold on the website at The Del Rio winery is located inside the historic Del Rio Orchard packing house. The restored Rock Point Hotel and Stage Stop serves as Del Rio’s tasting room which is daily open year-round. 541-855-0122. Multiple wines are produced including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Viognier.

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