|Wine Star trophies|
That little swath of excellence, however, has just earned Wine Enthusiast magazine's "2016 Wine Region of the Year" designation as part of its annual Wine Star awards.
The Willamette Valley's rapid evolution as an American Viniculture Area (AVA) has emerged from scratch over a scant 50-year period from when the first Pinot Noir grape vines were planted. It now has about 20,000 acres of grapes. The valley grows multiple other varietals as well, and major companies from outside the state, such as Jackson Family Wines of California and Louis Jadot of France, have been purchasing positions with Oregon wineries or buying them outright.
“Outside investment has accelerated,” Wine Enthusiast said in announcing its 17th annual Wine Star award winners, “propelled by the recognition that Willamette Valley Pinor Noir can challenge Burgundy [France] in its ability to capture the nuance and power of the grape.”
The Willamette Valley earned the award due to the “outstanding quality of its wines and the tectonic shift in wine investments these have engendered,” the magazine said.
David Beck, Oregon Wine Board chairman, said in a prepared statement that the state’s producers are primarily small- to mid-size farmers, more than half of whom produce fewer than 5,000 cases a year. “This award is the direct reflection of the attention and care given by Oregon’s grape growers and winemakers from vine to bottle.”
Go here for a complete slideshow list of the entire Wine Star award winners.