Umpqua Valley AVA
History: The Umpqua Valley’s winegrowing history began in the 1880s when German immigrants who had worked for the Beringer Bros., the oldest continuously operating vineyard in Napa, planted the first winegrape vineyard in the valley.
Richard Sommer established HillCrest Vineyard near Roseburg in 1961. It was the first post-Prohibition Vitis vinifera planted in Oregon. He planted Riesling and small amounts of other 30-plus varieties, including Pinot Noir, despite being told by his UC Davis friends that it was impossible to successfully grow winegrapes in Oregon.
During the ’70s, Henry Estate’s winemaker, Scott Henry, developed his eponymous world-famous trellis system.
Location: The AVA sits between the Coast and Cascades ranges, with the Willamette Valley to the north and the Rogue Valley to the south. The appellation stretches 65 miles from north to south, and is 25 miles wide.
Climate: The Umpqua Valley is comprised of three climatic zones: 1) The northern area enjoys a cool, marine-influenced climate and receives around 50 inches annual rainfall. Cool-climate varieties thrive here. 2) The central area has an intermediate climate where both cool and warm varieties do well. 3) The southern area is warmer and more arid, making irrigation a necessity. Warm-climate varieties do well here.
Soils: The soils are as varied and derived from a mix of metamorphic, sedimentary and volcanic rock; more than 150 soil types have been identified in the region.
Topography: The AVA’s topography is a result of the collision of three mountain ranges of varying age and structure: Klamath Mountains, Coast Range and Cascades. The area has been described as the “Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua” because it is made up of a series of interconnecting small mountain ranges.
UMPQUA VALLEY WINEGROWERS ASSOCIATION
Focus? Our focus is primarily promotional with efforts at improved winegrowing.
Identity? Extreme diversity. We grow more than 30 different grape varieties and make a large range of wine types and styles. The Umpqua is not truly a valley but is more correctly described as the “Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua,” with a collection of micro-climates. And while the region grows a lot of Pinot Noir, and is the original site of the variety in Oregon, our AVA has so much more to offer.
Varieties? We grow everything from Albariño to Zinfandel.
Collaboration? We are one of the tightest groups around, with near unanimous participation by all wineries. The Oregon Winery Association was started here back in the late ’60s. We have the longest running festival (Greatest of the Grape) in Oregon, at 42 years, and possibly on the whole West Coast.
Challenges? There are not that many people in this area, which leads to getting the word out about the wonderful wines being made in our area. We have good wine, just not enough folks know about us.
Marketing? Events, radio and TV ads, print ads, some social media. We are very much interested in social media and are in the process of gearing up on a much bigger push in this area.