winery on rolling hills with a farm house in the back ground
winery on rolling hills with a farm house in the back ground
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Tualatin Valley’s wine country–the closest to Portland–is located in the northwestern corner of the famed Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Willamette Valley AVA was granted official status as an AVA 40 years ago, in January 1984. The Willamette Valley AVA is one of the largest in the U.S., totaling nearly 3.5 million acres, with more than 30,000 acres of wine grapes planted–the lion’s share of which is Pinot Noir–and 1,016 vineyards.

Nested in the Willamette Valley AVA is the Chehalem Mountains, totaling 62,500 acres (2,660 acres of planted grapes). Several Tualatin Valley’s wineries also produce wine made from grapes grown in the Chehalem Mountains AVA.

What is an AVA, anyway?

An AVA is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown. Using an AVA designation on a wine label allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers identify wines they may purchase.

AVAs of Tualatin Valley: Laurelwood District and Tualatin Hills

Tualatin Valley is home to 60 estate wineries and tasting rooms. Located within the greater Willamette Valley AVA, Tualatin Valley is home to not one, but two new AVAs: Tualatin Hills and Laurelwood District. These two AVAs are “nested” within the Willamette Valley AVA. A nested AVA is an appellation, used to identify where the grapes grown in the production of wine, located inside the boundaries of a larger AVA.

The 33,600-acre Laurelwood District AVA covers the northern slopes of the Chehalem Mountains AVA, including Cornelius, Scholls and Sherwood. This AVA is differentiated by its Laurelwood soils, iron-rich Missoula Flood loess soil contributing to the unique flavor of the wines.

The 144,000-acre Tualatin Hills AVA aligns with the watershed of the Tualatin River and is north of the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Tualatin Valley also is defined by its Laurelwood soil. However, unlike its neighboring Laurelwood District AVA, the Tualatin Hills has slightly higher temperatures.

We invite you to visit and taste for yourselves why these soils are worthy of special AVA designation.