wine history tours logo
Search
Book Now

Overview of Eola-Amity Hills AVA Wine Region

Eola-Amity Hill

Eola-Amity Hills AVA

Just one hour southwest of Portland, the Eola-Amity Hills are a haven for vintners, vintners-to-be, and wine enthusiasts. This region has all wine country has to offer, from the rough to the sophisticated, and is renowned for its various plantings, premium wine choices, and innovative and opulent tasting facilities.

Overview

The Eola-Amity Hills AVA is located in Northwest of Salem, which is a part of the Willamette Valley AVA. The Eola Hills’ main ridge, running north-south, is flanked by many lateral ridges that run east-west on both sides. The majority of the vineyards in the area are located between 250 and 700 feet (75-215 m) above sea level. The Eola-Amity Hills’ location just east of the Van Duzer Corridor, which creates a break in the Coast Range and allows cold Pacific Ocean air to pass through, has a significant impact on the region’s temperature. This causes a sharp drop in local temperatures, especially in the late summer afternoons that help grapes maintain their acidity as they ripen.

Most of the volcanic basalt in the soils here comes from the Columbia River. Lower elevations of the ridge contain marine sedimentary rocks, alluvial deposits, and basalt flows that date back more than 14 million years. Because of this, the soils are rather shallow, rocky, and well-drained, and they frequently yield petite grapes with intense flavor. High acidity, strong structure, and a darker, edgier form are all characteristics of the wines made in this area.

Rich history of the region

Although this region near Salem has a long agricultural history, it was not until the 1970s that winemakers began to realize that the region had the best growing conditions for high-quality wine grapes. Around this period, a scattering of vineyards were planted in the Eola-Amity Hills by a few contemporary pioneers, including Don Byard of Hidden Springs[1]. Other early settlers soon followed suit, and now this region is known for its top-notch, handcrafted cool-climate varietals.

In 2006 Eola-Amity Hills AVA was officially established[2]. The two counties of Polk and Yamhill, as well as the cities of Amity on the north and Salem on the south, are all included in the AVA, which was named after Aeolus, the Greek wind god.

Let’s look at the popular grape varieties grown in the region

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling do well in this region’s chilly climate. The Eola-Amity Hills AVA differs from the neighboring Willamette Valley viticultural region because of its own terroir. The hills were formed by ancient lava flows and tectonic movement, and the weathered basalt soils here have proven ideal for the grape varieties.

Eola-Amity Hills AVA’s Best vineyards

Several well-known vineyards that have long supplied wineries in other Oregon AVAs with grapes are located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVAs. Bethel Heights Vineyards, located in northwest Salem, is one of the first in the region. It was planted by pioneer grape grower, Victor Winguist in 1977 and since then it has become among the most popular in Oregon.

Bethel Heights
Bethel Heights | source

Other Eola-Amity Hills’ vineyards that are likely to appear on Vineyard designated wines include: Temperance Hill Vineyard, located northwest of Salem, with 100 acres; Zenith Vineyard that was first planted in 1982; Zena Crown, located centrally in the Eola-Amity Hills, with 83.5 acres that was first planted in 2003. Apart from these, the region has over 100 vineyards and 33 wineries with 26 tasting rooms[3].

Key Facts:

  • The Eola-Amity Hills AVA was established in August 16, 2006.
  • The AVA’s total area is 39,200 acres (15,900 ha).
  • Area planted is 3,040 acres (1,230 ha).
  • Tasting Rooms: 26
  • Vineyards: 125
  • Predominant Varieties in the region are Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gamay noir.
  • Predominant Soils is Marine sedimentary and volcanic.

This Day in History:

  • August 16, 2006: On this day, Eola-Amity Hills AVA was officially established.
  • In 1971, Jerry and Anne Preston planted Amity Vineyards, bringing vinifera grapes to the Eola-Amity Hills.

Read More:

https://thisdayinwinehistory.com/oregon-tribes-history-and-wine-regions/

https://thisdayinwinehistory.com/this-day-in-oregon-wine-history/

References

[1] Eola-Amity Hills Winegrowers, “EOLA-AMITY HILLS: OUR HISTORY,” https://eolaamityhills.com/our-history/

[2]https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2006/07/17/E6-11077/establishment-of-the-eola-amity-hills-viticultural-area-2002r-216p

[3]https://www.willamettewines.com/about-the-valley/ava-overviews/eola-amity-hills/

Want to read more? Try these books!

Bursting Bubbles- A Secret History of Champagne and the Rise of the Great Growers Vino- The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine

Book Now

Share:

Hot Topics

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.
On Trend

Most Popular Stories

Dick Erath's wine

Dick Erath: An Oregon Legend

Willamette Valley’s Dick Erath Dick Erath’s contributions to the Oregon wine industry were numerous and profound. In the 1960s, he was  actually working in the