COMMENTARY

Pinot Is King!

By Hilary Berg
OWP Editor

In these parts, Pinot Noir is king. If you own a winery, work at one or have ever visited a tasting room in the Willamette Valley, you have witnessed the success of this Burgundian varietal. 

While other varieties are grown and marketed in Oregon, out-of-state wine buffs are most likely to know, or at least have heard of, our Pinot — correctly pronouncing Oregon or Willamette Valley, not so likely.

Numbers support this assumption: According to the latest vineyard survey, approximately 29,890 tons of Pinot Noir were crushed in 2012, followed by Pinot Gris at 8,321.

The recent influx of big-name California and Washington wineries — see the latest acquisition — simply adds to the state’s Pinot prestige. They are not here for Cabs and Merlot — both have those covered — no, they want a piece of the Pinot pie.

As you read the cover story by Jade Helm, you’ll discover that Pinot Noir can be found across the state’s appellations, not only the Willamette.

Lest we not forget, Pinot Noir was first planted in Oregon by Richard Sommer in the Umpqua Valley in 1961. Although Southern Oregon is becoming better known for its warm-climate reds, the Pinots from this diverse region of varied micro-climates can rival many up north. The Gorge — and even Columbia and Walla Walla valleys — also claims Pinot, but in much smaller numbers. Again, the quality is high.

Of course, it takes a village of varieties to raise a wine region to world-class status. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Tempranillo, Syrah, Malbec, Cab Franc and many others are part of Oregon wine’s success story, but it’s the Burgundian noble red that reigns supreme.

Even if you are not a Pinot fan, you must give the variety its due respect, as it is the foundation of our thriving industry.

All hail Pinot! Long live the king!

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