Southern Willamette Valley Earns its First AVA

Brigadoon Wine Company is located in Junction City, Oregon.

My Latest in Wine Business Monthly:

Southern Willamette Valley Earns its First AVA

Brigadoon Wine Company is located in Junction City, Oregon.

by L.M. Archer

Portland, Ore. – On December 10, 2021, Oregon’s wine industry proudly ushered in Lower Long Tom AVA, the first nested appellation located in Southern Willamette Valley.

Named for the lower, eastern part of the Long Tom River flowing between Fern Ridge Lake and the Willamette River, Lower Long Tom AVA encompasses approximately 25,000 acres across Lane and Benton counties.

“It makes us unique because we are Willamette Valley, yes, but we are in the southern part of the Willamette Valley, where there was previously no other AVA established. Nobody even dreamed that that could be,” says Dieter Boehm, of High Pass Vineyard and Winery in Junction City.

Special Place

Boehm submitted the petition for approval to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Treasury (TTB) four years ago. “The area seemed to be special and different than any other places I knew in Oregon where grapes were grown,” says Boehm, a native of East Germany, who founded his winery in 1984. “I always thought it was a special place.”

Over time, Boehm’s quiet enthusiasm attracted other vineyards and wineries to the area. Today, the Lower Long Tom AVA totals 575 acres of vineyards, 24 commercial vineyards and 12 wineries. Many of the vineyards comprise winery estates. “It’s in the Willamette Valley, but the Willamette Valley is big, relatively speaking,” he says. “And a lot of the AVA’s are all bunched together around Dundee and McMinnville…so I always felt like we are the stepchild of the grape industry. It’s time to step up and show that we are real, too.”

Climatic Niche

Real, indeed. Distinct meso-climates, soils, and stylistics set Lower Long Tom AVA apart from other Oregon wine regions. Boundary differentiators includes a series of ridge lines, separated by west-east running, river-borne valleys. These hillside elevations run between 1,000 feet to 550 feet above sea level, with average slopes of 20 percent. West of Lower Long Tom AVA, the rugged Coast Range juts upward 3,000 feet or more. READ MORE HERE.


More features by L.M. Archer here.

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