Chehalem Mountains, Laurelwood District, Tualatin Hills
This is what I personally refer to as the ‘Northern Three’ which helps me stay organized in my head when it comes to Willamette Valley geography.
The two defining characteristics here, for me, are the proximity to Portland (and thus easy wine tourism, especially locals out for a weekend drive), along with a separation from the winds you find south of McMinville. With both Laurelwood and Tualatin you also find consistent soil types (not so much with Chehalem Mountains).
Chehalem Mountains AVA
Home of some of our favorite wineries (Adelsheim, Bergstöm, ROCO), and one of the original areas for vineyards and wineries in Willamette Valley (along with the Dundee Hills). What Chehalem Mountains AVA lacks is definition, due to the mix of soil types and microclimates.
The best wine I’ve ever had from this area, and a wine that was built to showcase the tapestry of terroir, is Breaking Ground Pinot Noir by Adelsheim Winery.
Winesearcher: Chehalem Mountains
Willamette Valley Wine: Chehalem Mountains
Laurelwood District AVA
A new kid on the block, born in 2020, the Laurelwood District AVA is a sub-region of the Chehalem Mountains and is based on soil type, with Loess soil (Laurelwood) dominant.
Willamette Valley Wine: Laurelwood District
Oregon Wine Press: New Northern AVAs
Federal Register: Establishment of the Laurelwood District and Tualatin Hills AVAs (official filing with the government … pretty fun reading)
Tualatin Hills AVA
The Tualatin Hills AVA, also new as of 2020, is extremely interesting. Located in a heavy rain shadow from the coast range, it’s quite dry. And being further north, it’s quite cool. The region definitely has its own personality, and I think Tualatin Hills will be an AVA of note in the next five or ten years.
Willamette Valley Wines: Tualatin Hills
Wine Industry Advisor: Tualatin Hills granted official status
Society of Wine Educators: Welcome to the world, Laurelwood and Tualatin Hills!