FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Beaverton, Oregon - OregonWines.com, the leading web site about Oregon wines, is pleased to announce the latest viticultural area in Oregon. The Columbia Gorge Viticultural Area has been registered as a new wine growing region in a ruling by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The ruling becomes final on July 10, 2004, and with it, Oregon residents will have a new place to call Wine Country.
The new viticultural area, or appellation, is located about 60 miles east of Portland along the Columbia Gorge, and lies in Hood River and Wasco Counties in Oregon State, and Skamania and Klickitat Counties in Washington State.
Appellations are important for the wine industry, as they signify distinct wine growing regions based on climate and soil conditions. Appellations make it possible for wineries to describe the regions where their grapes were grown, and help consumers identify differences in wines from one appellation to another.
"Oregon's many microclimates make for unique growing conditions throughout the State, and the newly designated Columbia Gorge appellation is further proof of this," says David Anderson of OregonWines.com.
Anderson adds, "Climatic and soil variations can affect the grapes. If you have two Pinot Noir wines, each made with grapes from different appellations, and you produced them using the exact same method, then all things being equal, the two wines would still have different flavors and qualities. Rainfall, amount of sun, average temperature, mineral and pH balance in the soil... each of these aspects vary throughout Oregon, and that is why appellations are so important for the wine industry".
"Additionally, each appellation is best suited for certain kinds of grapes, or varietals. Not all the same varietals are grown in each appellation," says Anderson. "Southern Oregon is becoming well-known for producing hearty Mediterranean varietals, including Merlot, Tempranillo, and Syrah, while the northern Oregon regions are best suited for 'softer' varietals, such as Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc. With the new Columbia Gorge appellation, you can look forward to a good balance of both hearty and soft varietals."
In addition to agricultural aspects, there is also an important tourism angle for the new appellation. Wineries can benefit from added business, simply because they are located in a particular wine growing region. As appellations become known for the particular wine varietals produced, they can draw crowds of wine enthusiasts eager to sample the local wines.
Wineries in the Columbia Gorge are aware of this, and are excited about the new designation. Bob Hodges, of Pheasant Valley Vineyard and Winery in Hood River, said they opened their tasting room to the public in April, and have enjoyed rave reviews for their picturesque setting and award winning wines. Scott and Gail Hagee, owners of Pheasant Valley, converted half of their organic pear orchard to vineyard and will continue to grow the grapes organically. So far, they have planted Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Gewurztraminer. They are also making wines from the organic d'Anjou and Bartlett pears grown on the property. Hodges says, "Hiring good winemakers has been key. Rich Cushman and Peter Rosback were responsible for gathering the 4 medals that Pheasant Valley wines won at the recent NW Wine Summit."
This year has already seen several new wineries start up in the Gorge, and with more to follow, the region is sure to become the next big destination for Portlanders wanting a taste of Wine Country. "We're just an hour from Portland, in one of the most scenic locations of the state", Hodges adds. "All of the Columbia Gorge wineries are sure to benefit from this new designation."
The new Columbia Gorge Viticultural Area joins Oregon's six other official appellations: Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley, Rogue Valley, Applegate Valley, Columbia Valley, and Walla Walla Valley. Additional viticultural areas in Oregon are under review, and could be added within the next two years.
Contact OregonWines.com at (503) 574-4277, or visit us online at www.OregonWines.com, for more information about the Columbia Gorge appellation, and all its great new wineries.