Wines from the Northwest Coast have little in common
Climate makes the difference
This week we’ll look at a wine region whose wines are great with late summer grilling, and anytime enjoyjing….
Try a new wine this week!
Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir
To be so close to each other, the major wine regions of Washington and Oregon have little in common. Different climates have led to emphasis on different grape varieties, with a resulting diversity that adds a lot to a wine lovers trip to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Most of Oregon’s vineyards are on the cool, ocean side of the Cascade Mountains, along the Willamette River Valley in the northwestern part of the state. There, the most important and widely planted white wine grape variety is pinot gris, and the most widely planted red is pinot noir. Being members of the pinot family of grapes, they tend to grow best in this relatively cool climate.
Most of Washington’s vineyards are across the Cascade Mountains from the Pacific. This is the warm, dry side, just the opposite of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Instead of pinot gris and pinot noir, they grow more cabernet sauvignon and syrah.
It may seem a little odd that the ultimate cold-loving grape, riesling, was the grape that first put Washington wines on the map many years back. The second one, merlot, also likes cool weather. A combination of northerly latitude and diverse terrain combine to form cool microclimates. Also, dry air can cool quickly after dark.
Because of the dryness of south central Washington’s landscape, most vineyards are planted along the mighty Columbia River and its tributaries, notably the Yakima, for irrigation.
Oregon pinot noir producer, Left Coast Cellars, lies along the 45th degree of latitude, famous around the globe for great wines. Their “Cali’s Cuvee” named for the owners’ daughter, combines richness and depth with drinkability and a food-friendly style. Bursting with bright cherry flavors, it retails for around $30 a bottle.