Last month saw the release of our Lot 627 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir, a sub appellation of the Willamette Valley in the northwestern reaches of the region. As always, Cam’s notes will speak well towards the wine, but let’s look deeper into the region itself.
While Papa Pinot established the Dundee Hills area in the early to mid 60’s, northwest of his property, Dick Erath was setting up in Yamhill County around 1968. Much like Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountains wasn’t officially recognized as a sub appellation until 2006. By that point, a number of other recognizable and reputable growers had roots in the soil working for established wineries.
Speaking of soil, the majority of the Chehalem Mountains region is covered by Laurelwood (Loess), a shallow, volcanic, windblown, silty loam that are remnants of the retreating ice age 12-15,000 years ago. The soil drains and erodes quickly, so it requires a higher level of land maintenance. Pinots grown in this soil type tend to be brighter with the red fruits, earthy, and carry a white pepper note.
There is much variance in the climate and subsequently harvest times in the region. Elevations range from 200 ft.-1,633 ft and at the top side of elevation in the area, make up the highest peaks in the Willamette Valley. Precipitation in the region varies widely as well, from 37 inches on the low side to 60 inches at the highest. These variances can lead to upwards of three weeks difference in harvest times within the sub-appellation.