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Thursday, Mar. 13, 2008

Pinot Noir

The noble red grape of France’s Burgundy region also is Oregon’s most important variety. The cool Willamette Valley seems to be a great region for growing the grape.

Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle grape that can be difficult in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. It is an early ripening variety, which works well for Western Oregon’s climate. A number of Oregon wineries have moved to “gravity-flow” operations that allow the wine to be moved from harvest to fermentation to barrel aging to bottling using primarily gravity rather than pumps. This allows gentle handling of the wine, thus a better product.

British Columbia is emerging as Pinot Noir country, with most of the grapes grown in the arid Okanagan Valley in the province’s interior. The quality is improving dramatically as the industry develops.

Little Pinot Noir is grown in Washington, with most of the acreage west of Cascades. Idaho also grows a bit of Pinot Noir.