Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Oregon, one of the united states known by wine lovers for its pinots and part of the pacific northwest. Oregon lies between california and washington state but is markedly different from both. Its propensity for ripening grapes is the most marginal of the three, significant to those who hold that grapes which struggle to ripen achieve greater complexity, and fundamental therefore to the view that it may be from the Northwest—and Oregon in particular—that the best wines of the US will ultimately emerge. While Oregonian viticulture can be traced back for five generations, the growth of its wine industry has been a much more discreet affair than that of California and is only just maturing. Underfunded and somewhat shy by instinct, the Oregon wine industry was slow to find a native, high-profile spokesperson to project it on the wide international screen, although that may be changing. Oregon historically cultivated an image of rustic charm and natural simplicity as opposed to glamour or sophistication, although its producers are stubborn individualists rather than simple peasants. However, the lure of winemaking in the state has attracted increasingly moneyed producers (including drouhin and jadot from Burgundy, jackson family wines from California, and the relatively vast King Estate, as well as the lifestyle seekers with their bags of gold).