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Why Is Oregon Pinot Noir So Expensive?

Pinot Noir Grapes Bunch

The Willamette Valley in Oregon is widely considered to be one of the best places in the world for growing Pinot Noir grapes. As a result, Pinot Noir from the region is often quite expensive. In fact, the question we get asked most often is, “Why is Pinot so expensive?” In this post, we will explore some of the factors that contribute to the high cost of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

  1. Land and Labor Costs

One reason for the high cost of Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley is the cost of land and labor in the region. The valley’s fertile soil and ideal climate for grape growing make it a desirable location for wineries and vineyards, driving up the price of land. Additionally due to the state’s minimum wage laws and the high cost of living in the region, labor costs in the valley are relatively high compared to other wine-growing regions. 

  1. Small-Scale Production

Many wineries in the Willamette Valley are small, family-owned operations that produce only a few thousand cases of wine each year. This small-scale production limits the availability of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and drives up the price. According to a 2019 report by Wine Enthusiast, the average price for a bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is $50+, much higher than the average price for Pinot Noir from other regions like California and New Zealand.

  1. High-Quality Standards

Winemakers in the Willamette Valley place a strong emphasis on quality, and many use traditional winemaking techniques that require more time and attention to detail than modern winemaking methods. For example, many winemakers in the region use wild yeasts and age their wines in expensive French oak barrels. These high-quality standards help to create wines that are complex, flavorful, and unique but also contribute to the high cost of production and ultimately, the high cost of the wine.

Bergström Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot_noir in article on why pinot is expensive
Rich flavors of Bergström Winery’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, beautifully bottled to showcase its exquisite taste and aroma.
  1. Climate and Soil

The cool, rainy climate of the Willamette Valley is well-suited for Pinot Noir grapes, which requires a long growing season with moderate temperatures. Additionally, the region’s soil is rich in nutrients and minerals that contribute to the complexity and depth of the wine. However, these ideal growing conditions also require a high level of attention and care from the vineyard managers and winemakers, driving up the cost of production.

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References:

Oregon Wine Board. “Willamette Valley AVA.” Accessed April 19, 2023. https://industry.oregonwine.org/ava-terroir/willamette-valley-ava/.

Wine Enthusiast. “Exploring Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wine Country.” February 7, 2019. https://www.winemag.com/2019/02/07/exploring-oregons-willamette-valley-wine-country/.

Wine Spectator. “Willamette Valley: A Diverse and Dynamic Region.” May 7, 2020. https://www.winespectator.com/articles/willamette-valley-a-diverse-and-dynamic-region.

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