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Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009

Oregon: Rogue Valley

The Northwest's southern-most appellation surrounds the cities of Medford and Ashland, just north of the California border. It is known for its warm growing conditions. It was established in 2000.

Notable Rogue Valley vineyards

Del Rio Vineyards: In less than a decade, Del Rio Vineyards has become one of Oregon’s most important vineyards. And it has very little Pinot Noir. Rob Wallace manages Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill, a community 15 miles north of the city of Medford along Interstate 5 in southern Oregon. The 185-acre vineyard grows 14 different grapes, primarily warm-climate varieties, the most famous of which is syrah with 40 acres in the soil. The vineyard was planted in 1998. The south-facing slopes are about 1,000 feet above sea level, so the warm days and cool nights ensure good ripeness balanced with all-important acidity. About 40 wineries in Oregon, California and Washington purchase grapes from Wallace, who also holds back some for the estate label, Del Rio Vineyards & Winery. Some of Oregon’s top Pinot Noir producers buy Del Rio fruit, including Ken Wright, Penner-Ash and Domaine Serene. Wallace, a former row-crop farmer in the Sacramento Valley, grows a little Pinot Noir, primarily for Willamette Valley vintners who want insurance in case of rainy autumns to the north.