Lying to the east and in the shelter of the coastal Cascade Mountains, the region enjoys a dry, distinctively continental climate, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends can reach great heights on the sandy gravely loam soils; Semillon and Riesling are the most promising white wines.
While similarities might be drawn between Califonia & Bordeaux, Oregon is very much the American equivalent to Burgundy; planted with only 5,500 ha in 2004, approximately the 3% of California. Since the 1960s a plethora of small growers have shunned the sun further south for the often damp, cool climate west of the Cascade Mountains, seeking out propitious sites to plant their beloved Pinot Noir among the 150 mile Willamette Valley AVA.
Pinot Gris has also taken hold to this corner of the Pacific Northwest; Chardonnay has been less successful due to inappropriate clonal selection."Domaine Drouhin Oregon" is arguably the region's top producer. Most of the wine is swallowed up by the thirsty North American market.