Eugene, Ore. – When Lorrie Normann, owner of Valhalla Winery (Formerly Domaine Meriwether) and board member of the South Willamette Wineries Association, heard that Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 2016 Wine Star Award nominees included King Estate she noted, "the South Willamette Wineries provide a diverse offering of wines to the world and to have a flagship property be recognized alongside a group of America's finest wineries is wonderful. All of us in the South Willamette Wineries Association congratulate King Estate Winery."
For those of us who live in the Willamette Valley it's no secret that the explosion of vineyards, wineries and great wine has been actively occurring over many years. The rest of the world will be better educated about our fertile soil, advantageous growing season and top-notch winemakers as Wine Enthusiast Magazine has released the 2016 Wine Star Award nominees. Included in this year's list are:

King Estate - American Winery of the Year Category

  • "This Oregon winery is the largest Pinot Gris producer in the country, and it also makes a wide range of excellent Pinot Noir and the value brand, Acrobat. King Estate was instrumental this year in expanding the Willamette Valley AVA, and recently announced its intention to be certified biodynamic."

Jim Berneau (Willamette Valley Vineyards) - Person of the Year Category

  • "After he founded Willamette Valley Vineyards in 1983, Bernau built the formerly little-known region into a contending wine-tourism destination. His vision was to take the winery’s ownership public. Today, it’s run by 7,000 owners and investors. Bernau’s reach continues: this year, he broke ground on Pambrun vineyard and winery in Walla Walla, Washington."

Willamette Valley - Wine Region of the Year

  • "In the 50 years since the first Pinot Noir vines were planted here, Willamette Valley has blazed ahead as a world-class region, encompassing six sub-AVAs, hundreds of wineries, and an outstanding range of wines besides Pinot Noir. Big name wineries from France (Jadot), California (Jackson Family) and Washington (Precept) are moving into the region, and the tourism experience continues to evolve."

View the 14 award categories and learn more about each of the nominees.  

A 2015 report by Full Glass Research highlighted that the Oregon wine industry had become a $3.35 billion contributor to the state's economy.  A few of the study's highlights include:

  • Wine grapes are now Oregon's most valuable fruit crop, with 950 growers producing a crop worth $128 million.
  • The industry directly employed 9,387 and total wine-related employment totaled nearly 17,100, with wages worth more than $527 million.
  • Wine-related tourism contributed $207.5 million.
  • U.S. adults consumed an average 3.11 gallons of wine in 2013, 26 percent more than in 2000.

Learn more about the South Willamette Wine Country and play Pinto Bingo!