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Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009

Oregon: Eola-Amity Hills

This important region stretches from the town of Amity in the north to the capital city of Salem in the southeast. It is 37,900 acres in size and has 1,300 acres planted. It was established in 2006.

Notable Eola-Amity Hill vineyards

Temperance Hill Vineyard: One of the real gems in the northern Willamette Valley is the Eola-Amity Hills, a landmass that is northwest of the capital city of Salem. Some of Oregon’s finest wineries (Bethel Heights, Cristom and Witness Tree) are in the AVA, and winemakers from farther north in the Dundee area rely on Eola-Amity Hills for great Pinot Noir. Temperance Hill is arguably the most famous vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. Its 100 acres are dedicated primarily to Pinot Noir, which goes to such about 25 wineries, including St. Innocent, Panther Creek, Torii Mor and Lumos, a label owned by vineyard manager Dai Crisp. One of the unique aspects of Temperance Hill and other Eola-Amity vineyards is the Van Duzer Corridor, a gap in the nearby Coast Range that allows winds to come in during summer afternoons from the Pacific Ocean, some 30 miles to the west. This provides cooler temperatures during the heat of summer and gives the pinot noir brighter acidity. The shallow nekia soils are ancient exposed basalt, resulting in darker fruit aromas and flavors.

Seven Springs Vineyard: Planted in the late '80s, Seven Springs Vineyard has been a favorite among Oregon Pinot Noir producers for years. Its grapes are harvested a bit later than many northern Willamette Valley vineyards, thanks to the cooling effects of the Van Duzer Corridor. the ancient volcanic soils provide darker aromas and flavors, typical of the Eola-Amity Hills. Resulting wines can be tightly wound in their youth but evolve into complex layers of aromas and flavors with a bit of cellar aging.

Elton Vineyard: Planted in 1983, Elton is a 60-acre vineyard on the eastern side of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, 42 acres of which are planted to Pinot Noir. Unlike much of the rest of the appellation, which has marine sedimentary soil, Elton is planted on fractured basalt, the volcanic soil similar to the Dundee Hills. It is owned and operated by Dick and Betty O’Brien.