Adelsheim Vineyard's history is closely tied to this area. We planted our original vineyard here in 1972 and ours was the first winery in these mountains.
Most of Adelsheim’s eleven estate vineyards are on the Chehalem Mountains (pronounced “Sha-HAY-lem”), now a highly-respected viticultural area within Oregon’s north Willamette Valley. Our history is closely tied to this area. We planted our original vineyard here in 1972 and ours was the first winery in these mountains.
The Chehalem Mountains American Viticultural Area (AVA) is hugely varied with vineyards on both the north-east side of the ridge as well as the south-west side. Bald Peak (1633 feet above sea level), the high point of the Mountains, is also the highest point within the Willamette Valley. Precipitation increases and temperature decreases with elevation. Our vineyards range in elevation from 200 to 900 feet; there is a three-week difference in ripening as a result.
The Chehalem Mountains have three major soil types. We have sites in two of them: the red basaltic zone (which gives us red-fruited Pinot noirs) and the marine sedimentary zone (which makes for black-fruited Pinot noirs).
All the small AVAs recently created in the north Willamette Valley are different. And yet, when viewed on a broader perspective, the wines from the hundreds of sites in the Valley share certain characteristics - they have an intensity of fresh fruit aromas, there is a backbone of acidity which, combined with round, structural tannins, gives these wines liveliness and age ability. Even the Willamette Valley, a very large AVA already, shares certain things with the rest of Oregon. Interestingly, those things are less about climate and soil and more about people.
For most Oregonians who grow grapes and make wine, it is incredibly important to share information, techniques, and the road to success. To that end, Adelsheim Vineyard has taken leadership roles with the establishment of the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers and the rebirth of both the Willamette Valley Wineries Association and the Oregon Wine Board. We work with our colleagues to promote the viticultural regions of our State and to share information about grape-growing and winemaking techniques.