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Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge, Dundee Hills

Striving to keep things organized, clustering these three AVAs into one lesson makes sense. This represents the core, or middle, or the Willamette Valley fine wine region. All three are located north or northeast of McMinnville, all three have a great history of Pinot Noir growing, and all three have something distinctive to bring to the wine consumer.


The Yamhill-Carlton district is due north of McMinnville, and due to the elevation minimums of the AVA the towns of Yamhill and Carlton are ironically not located in the AVA.

The town of Carlton is a great destination for a wine lover, for the Carlton Winemakers Studio is located here along with great shopping, casual dining, and wonderful strolling through town.

Yamhill-Carlton is all about marine sediment soils, so the wines of this area tend to run darker, richer, and bolder than others from the area.

Willamette Valley Wines: Yamhill-Carlton

Winesearcher: Yamhill-Carlton District


Ribbon Ridge

Ribbon Ridge is a sub-AVA of the Chaehalem Mountains AVA, tucked into the southwest corner and bordering Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee Hills.

Ribbon Ridge is again about the marine sediment soils, but has a few degrees more temperature on average. Those few degrees make a huge difference, resulting in bold, ripe, dark, rich styles of Pinot Noir … a style found nowhere else in Willamette Valley.

Willamette Valley Wine: Ribbon Ridge

Winesearcher: Ribbon Ridge

Dundee Hills (sometimes called “The Red Hills of Dundee”)

For many Pinot Noir lovers, this is ground zero for it was on the Dundee Hills that David Lett first planted The Eyrie Vineyard, and where Domaine Drouhin Oregon set up shop. It’s an amazing region making distinctive wines.

It’s all about the terroir. Here it’s all about the iron-rich volcanic soils (you can see the color in the dirt) that makes for perfumed, bright, lifting styles of Pinot Noir. (Pretty much the opposite of the other two regions we are discussing on this lesson.)

Winesearcher: Dundee Hills

Willamette Valley Wines: Dundee Hills

Oregon Wine: Dundee Hills AVA