Willamette Valley, Oregon
Our passion at Portlandia is to bring you the best of what Oregon’s Willamette Valley has to offer in both wine and lifestyle. We start with some natural advantages. The cool climate and coastal influences make Oregon’s pinot noir and pinot gris some of the best in the world. But producing good wine in this climate still requires an enormous effort made possible only by a very creative and talented team. We’re very fortunate to have found a partner in Dundee, Oregon that offered us space and a long-term production agreement. We are so grateful for the team and we look forward to bringing you incredible wines for many years to come.
Maiden Voyage. I first visited the Willamette Valley in 2005. Having grown up in a restaurant family back east, I must admit it was mesmerizing. It was some of the most beautiful ag-land I had ever seen. Mountain walls on two sides, soil as black as coal, valley and hills covered in lush green growth… how could you not be inspired to cook or try your hand at beer or cider or wine. Regardless of the season, I’m still stunned every visit.
Producing our own wine from Oregon has been a dream since those early visits. I am so grateful we are finally there with Portlandia. It represents the best of Oregon’s Willamette Valley: pinot noir and pinot gris. It not only captures the spirit of Oregon’s great wines but it also reflects a sense of the people that make Portland and the Willamette Valley so special. It took relentless optimists to bring pinot noir and pinot gris to Oregon.
Pinot Pioneers. In 1961, Richard Sommer, an ag-student from UC Davis, took a leap of faith. His professors told him Oregon would never be good wine country. Sommer ignored them. After scouring Southern Oregon for a suitable site, he chose a Melrose farm where he planted pinot noir (HillCrest Vineyard in Umpqua Valley). Four years later, another UC Davis ag-student, David Lett, also acting against the advice of professors, brought 3,000 vine cuttings including, “160 cuttings of pinot gris taken from the only four vines they had at UC Davis” to the Willamette Valley. His were the first commercial plantings (Eyrie Vineyard) and he pioneered domestic pinot gris in Oregon (the first production in the US). His theory? The best wines come from places where grapes struggle to ripen. And pinot noir and pinot gris fit the theory of planting early-ripening varieties in the Willamette Valley. “Oregon had the cool growing season; the idea was to adapt the grapes to the climate.”
This fearless pursuit and determination proved what we all now know. The climate of this valley between Oregon’s Willamette River and the Coast Range produces some of the world’s best pinot noir and pinot gris wines. We believe portlandia represents the area well. And we hope you enjoy as much as we do.
– Damian Davis, vintner