Dundee Hills Vineyard in AutumnGrowing grapes at 45th latitude north, which is about the mid-point of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, has much in common with Burgundy, France. 

Pinot Noir has been successfully grown in the northern Willamette Valley since the 1970’s.  The Willamette Valley extends for over 100 miles south from Portland to Eugene.  There are more grapes planted in the Willamette Valley than any other area of Oregon. 

Most vineyards are planted on south facing hillsides, from 200-700 feet in elevation, where the soil is less fertile and the vineyards can capture the hot afternoon summer sun which is needed to fully ripen the grapes.

  Sims Estate Vineyard in the 45th latitude North
  An unusual winter day in the Dundee Hills

The Pacific Ocean, about 60 miles west, is the most important factor influencing the valley’s temperate climate. Temperatures are moderated by the marine ocean air.  Summer daytime temperatures range from 80-100 degrees with little rainfall. Winter temperatures rarely drop below freezing.  Spring frosts are infrequent.

Rainfall averages 35-50 inches a year, more than enough for growing grapes.  Most vineyards do not irrigate during the summer.  The Pinot Noir grape likes this climate, but viticulturists struggle each year to produce grapes that are fully ripened, which make the most flavorful wine.