Wine often expresses a sense of place. Place is attributed to by a number of different factors: layers of mineral deposits and sediments left after millions of years of geologic activity that contribute to different flavor profiles; climatic factors like temperature patterns & annual precipitation that have an effect on vine growth and, therefore, trellising practices and ultimately acidity levels (among other things) of a wine; wind even has an impact on the end product and contributes greatly to how a grapevine develops and maturates in the growing season.
The Van Duzer Corridor is the single-most prominent feature of the Willamette Valley that causes the often brisk afternoon breezes that whisk eastward through the Eola-Amity Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA) outside of Salem, OR. The Corridor serves as the only sustained East/West low point in Oregon’s Coastal Mountain Range and allows maritime wind activity to float through the 60+ vineyards included in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.
The Willamette Valley has a relatively mild climate – there aren’t a lot of high highs and low lows throughout the year and while the annual precipitation is fairly vigorous at 40 inches, most of it falls outside the primetime growing seasons, leaving the summer and early fall warm and beautiful. The Van Duzer breezes cool off the vineyards during the summer months and facilitate air circulation among the vines, thus reducing the potential of mildew or rot, in the case of rain.
Hiking through the vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA is a real treat – the rolling hills are dotted with agriculture and filled with 2,400+ acres planted in vitis vinifera. Many of Oregon’s heritage wineries and vineyards are located within the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.
The majority of the vineyard sites in the AVA are located between 250-700 feet in elevation. Temperance Hill Vineyard is one exception: its elevation ranges from 660-860′. It is considered a “cool” site and not just because wines made from Temperance Hill grapes are so fashionable…literally, the temperatures at Temperance Hill are lower than the vineyards planted below it. As a result, the grapes mature a bit later than others in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. You breath hard getting up to the top of Temperance Hill but the views are absolutely stunning – one can see many peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range to the east, the Van Duzer Corridor to the west, and all the wine landscape below.
Temperance Hill Vineyard is a 100-acre certified organic vineyard made up of roughly 20 different blocks of wine grapes. 80% of Temperance Hill is planted in Pinot Noir and19 different winery clients are lucky enough to obtain grapes grown at Temperance Hill. Dai Crisp has been the vineyard manager since 1999. He characterizes the flavor profile of the grapes from Temperance Hill as:
“When the fruit is ripe, I see black fruits…dark fruit. We get some nuanced, complex flavors that come through.”
Even if you don’t make it to the top of Temperance Hill on a visit to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, the walk through the vineyards at the lower elevations is worth putting on your hiking shoes for. There is something …. contemplative, almost mesmerizing, about being amongst the vines and seeing all the verdant growth happening during the summer season. Blackberry bushes surround many vineyards and it’s hard not to dream of sinking your teeth into a blackberry, hazelnut cobbler after a day of hiking through the vineyards on an Oregon adventure. The hazelnut (aka filbert) is Oregon’s official state nut and is one of several food products that make Oregon’s landscape so special.
The Eola-Amity Hills AVA and cool breezes from the Van Duzer Corridor await your arrival!