THE CHEHALEM MOUNTAINS
Boasting the Willamette Valley’s most diverse compilation of soils, the Chehalem Mountains is a winegrowing region like no other.
A Geological Miracle
All three of the Willamette Valley’s most prominent winegrowing soil types reside within the boundaries of the Chehalem Mountains AVA. No other viticulture area in Oregon is graced with such diverse soil. It is this diversity that leads to exceptional wines with extraordinary complexity.
Across the Chehalem Mountains, you can find ancient uplifted sedimentary seabeds, weathered rich red soils from lava flows down the Columbia River, and relatively new glacial sediment scoured from western states and blown onto north-facing hillsides in tumultuous windstorms.
Soils so violently and differently formed pass on a provocative complexity and unique taste in our wines resulting in an exploration of flavors across the mountain.
Soils derived from marine sediments are distributed primarily along the northwestern flank of the Chehalem Mountains. Marine sandstones were laid down 20-40 million years ago in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean. A subsequent uplift exposed them to the elements, allowing the development of soils with high quartz content and a rich, brown color. Pinot Noirs from sedimentary soils tend to show dark fruit and spice notes, velvety texture, and minerality.
Lava flows which formed the Columbia River Basalts 5-15 million years ago are the basis of the well-drained red soils concentrated in the southeastern Chehalem Mountains. The deep silt and clay are underlain by gravel and fractured basalt. Dark grey parent material has weathered in place, creating soils stained rust-red by iron oxide. Pinot Noirs from volcanic soils tend to show red fruit flavors, with elegant tannins, bramble, and spice.
Powerful winds scoured sediment from the surrounding landscape 0.5 to 1.5 million years ago during the last Ice Age. This silt was deposited on the northeast flank of the Chehalem Mountains, weathering into the youngest of our major soil types. These soils are called “loess.” They are fine-grained and light in color. Pinot Noirs from loess soils tend to show a rainbow of complex fruit flavors, floral aromatics, and a white pepper spice.