Eola-Amity Hills is an Oregon sub-appellation of the Willamette Valley, located just northwest of Salem, Oregon’s capitol. Almost 38,000 acres of land, with 30 wineries and 2,000 acres of vineyards, make up the Eola-Amity Hills appellation, sometimes referred to as “the Hidden Jewel” of the Willamette Valley. Like all of the wine regions of Willamette Valley, the wineries here combine sustainability with the art of handcrafting wines to perfection. This AVA (American Viticultural Area) is home to some of the most acclaimed wineries and vineyards in Oregon. The wines that come out of Eola-Amity Hills AVA are well worth searching for when you are looking for that perfect wine. Below is some information on the history, climate and wines of this region, as well as some recommended wineries and wines.
History. Honeywood Winery, located just south of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA boundary, is the oldest continuously operated winery in Oregon, bonded in 1933. The ideal grape growing conditions of Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills weren’t discovered until the 1970s. This was when winemakers began to tentatively plant grapes in vineyards of the area. More than 30 years later, in 2006, it became an official appellation.
Climate and Soil. This Oregon appellation has a perfect climate for growing cool weather grapes, with warm summers, mild winters, and 40 inches of rain. Its elevation is important as well, as elevation affects temperature, soil type, and other wine-growing factors. The shallow, well-drained soil, comprised of volcanic and marine sedimentary rocks, produces wonderful grapes for wine making. You’ll notice almost all the wines of this Oregon appellation have a wonderful fresh-fruit character.
Varieties: Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills’ vineyards and wineries primarily produce Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.
Amity Vineyards. One of Oregon’s pioneer vineyards, Amity Vineyards has been recognized as one of the best producers of Pinot Noir in the world, rivaling those of France. To sample one of their best, try the 2006 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir, a gorgeous wine with fruit aromas and flavors of black cherry and currant. You can purchase this Oregon wine for $50.00 per bottle. For some lovely Oregon whites from this Eola-Amity Hills vineyard, try Amity Vineyards 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc for $15.00. It has delicious flavors of melon and lime. Or sample their 2008 Estate Dry Riesling, a fun wine with floral and citrus aromas and flavors of lemon and gooseberry. ($20.00 per bottle.) For more information on this Eola-Amity Hills vineyard and its wines, click here.
Cherry Hill Vineyards. This Eola-Amity Hills boutique winery produces 7,000 cases of Pinot Noir each year, as well as Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Dry Rose. Named for the wild cherries that grow on this Oregon land, as well as the cherry orchard that was planted there in the 1960s, this winery has the perfect climate and soil necessary to create world-class Pinot Noir wines. Sample their 2007 Estate Pinot Noir for a soft, subtle Oregon wine with delicious raspberry and plum flavors. (Available for $29.00) Their Poverty Road Pinot Gris is also a wonderful wine with a delicate lemon fragrance and flavors of apple and pear. This Oregon white wine is stainless steel fermented and is not stored in oak. (Purchase for $16.00.) For more information on this Eola-Amity Hills vineyard and its wines, click here.
Dukes Family Vineyard. Fifty-eight acres of south-facing Oregon slopes provide the perfect growing conditions for this Eola-Amity Hills vineyard. It produces such classic wines as its Alyssa Pinot Noir 2006, with lovely floral aromas, dark fruit flavors and silky tannins. (Purchase for $45.00) Also try their Thomas Pinot Noir 2007, a darker, lusher red wine with aromas of chocolate and blackberry, and flavors of blueberry and other fruits, accompanied by silky tannins. For more information on this Eola-Amity Hills vineyard and its wines, click here.