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South Willamette Wineries Leverage Region of the Year Award

Published: November 29, 2016

Eugene, OR — Wine Enthusiast Magazine's announcement of Oregon’s Willamette Valley as its 2016 Wine Region of the Year has been greeted with great excitement by South Willamette Wineries Association members. Oregon’s South Willamette Valley is often ranked as a top wine destination, crisscrossed with scenic wine trails and centered by a unique Urban Wine Circuit. Home to more than 20 award-winning wineries, many vineyards are rooted in the rolling landscape just 10-20 minutes from the Eugene-Springfield metro area. 

With the eyes of the world on our region the South Willamette Wineries Association felt there is no better way to greet incoming visitors than to showcase their products. A newly erected interactive display and wine tasting bar is now open at the Eugene Airport. Located between the two new carousels, the display includes an eight foot OAK wine bar, donated by Urban Lumber, with a backdrop of 10 French oak wine barrels donated by King Estate​. While awaiting your bag, why not sample a great South Willamette Valley wine, pick up a Pinot Bingo game card and get your visit off to an enchanting start! 

The Wine Star Awards are regarded as some of the most important in the wine industry. Each year, the editors of Wine Enthusiast honor individuals, companies and regions that have made outstanding achievements and contributions in the wine and spirits world. The magazine will officially award the region at the Wine Star Awards gala on January 30, 2017 in Miami, FL. The Willamette Valley will also be featured in Wine Enthusiast’s December 2016 issue.

The Willamette Valley, Oregon’s leading wine region, has over two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards and is home to nearly 500 wineries. It is recognized as one of the premier Pinot noir producing areas in the world. Other cool-climate varieties such as Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are equally at home in the Willamette Valley.

 “People are already traveling from all over the world to experience great wine and breathtaking scenery,” says Jimmie Lucht, Board President of the Willamette Valley Visitors Association, a non-profit organization that supports travel and tourism in Oregon’s Wine Country. “We are thrilled that this recognition will bring the Willamette Valley to the forefront and give more attention to our wine growers, wineries and this wonderful place we call home.”

While the number of wineries continues to grow, Willamette Valley winemakers haven’t lost their personal, handcrafted approach to making wine, or their desire to do things a little differently. Many winemakers in the Willamette Valley practice sustainable winegrowing techniques based on their respect for the land and desire to see future generations continue the winemaking tradition. Nearly half of all Willamette Valley vineyards are certified sustainable, making the valley the most sustainable wine region in the world.

Other 2016 Wine Region nominees include Provence, France; Champagne, France; Crete, Greece; and Sonoma County, California. The Willamette Valley is also home to two other nominees recognized for their achievements in the wine industry: Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards earned a nomination for Person of the Year, and King Estate, located in the southern-most part of the Willamette Valley, was nominated for American Winery of the Year.

 Willamette Valley: The Willamette Valley is 150 miles long and up to 60 miles wide making it Oregon’s largest AVA. It runs from the Columbia River in Portland south through Salem to the Calapooya Mountains outside Eugene. Named for the river that flows through it, the Willamette Valley has the largest concentration of wineries and vineyards in Oregon and includes six appellations within its borders: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton.

 The Willamette Valley Visitors Association is a private, non-profit organization that supports travel and tourism in the Willamette Valley – Oregon Wine Country. Comprised of six destination marketing organizations, the Willamette Valley Visitors Association works to maintain the Willamette Valley as Oregon’s premier wine destination, while highlighting the culture, heritage and natural resources of the region.  I.866.548.5018

Contact South Willamette Wineries Association:
Jim McGavin, Walnut Ridge Winery, 541.998.2606,
Lorrie Normann, Valhalla Winery, 541.556.8127,

Author: Andy Vobora

Vice-President of Stakeholder Relations, Travel Lane County
541.501.9398 | 541.743.8770

Travel Lane County markets and promotes the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region as a destination for travel, conventions, sports, meetings and events. It serves as a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic development through visitor spending, which pumped more than $783 million into Lane County, Oregon's economy in 2019.