Southern Oregon AVA Wine Region
Southern Oregon AVA: Climates and Soils
What is an AVA?
An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a geographic grape-growing region defined by the US Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
Unlike most European wine appellations, an AVA specifies only a geographical location from which at least 85% of the grapes used to make a wine must have been grown. Unlike some European appellation systems, AVA designations do not limit the type of grapes grown, the method of vinification, or the crop yield.
AVAs may be embedded within a larger AVA, for example, Southern Oregon AVA is an AVA, and has 3 AVAs within its geographic borders.
For more information about touring Southern Oregon wine region.
Each of Southern Oregon’s AVAs are described below:
Southern Oregon AVA – Established 2004
• Includes the Umpqua, Applegate and Rogue Valleys AVAs.
Rogue Valley – Established AVA 1991
• Considered one of the hottest growing regions in Oregon.
• Approximate rainfall: 20–35 inches annually.
• Similar to France’s Bordeaux region, its warm dry climate benefits Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Malbec and Syrah.
• Soils range from sandy loam to hard clay.
Applegate Valley – Established AVA 2001
• The Applegate, Illinois and Bear Creek Valleys are considered all sub-sections of the Rogue Valley.
• Applegate is warmer and drier than the neighboring Illinois Valley, but not as warm as the Bear Creek Valley area, which follows the I-5 corridor.
• The Applegate Valley is home to Bordelaise varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to Syrah and Chardonnay.
• Soils include decomposed granite derived from stream terraces and alluvial fans.
Illinois Valley – Not an official AVA
• It’s higher elevation and coastal influence creates a micro-climate suitable for Burgundian varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
• Additionally the climate is highly agreeable to Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat.
• Soils consist of stream-deposited sand, silt and gravel, bench gravel deposits, and glacial moraines.
• Climatically the area is influenced by the high elevation and marine effect.
Umpqua Valley – Established AVA 1984
• Oregon’s oldest viticulture region is considerably cooler than the Rogue Valley
• The area also has the highest annual rainfalls within the SOWA boundaries – 52.5 in Elkton and 33.5 in Roseburg.
• This climate lends itself well to the Rhone varietals such as Syrah, Viognier and Grenache and the Spanish Tempranillo, Albariño and Graciano.
• Temperatures may vary as much as 60° in the summer.
• The valley consists of a wide range of soils including alluvial, terrace and upland.