Just northwest of Salem lies a 35.5-acre area known as the Van Duzer Corridor, where climate and soil create a distinct environment for growing wine grapes–enough of a distinction that the area is now officially recognized as the Van Duzer Corridor American Viticultural Area (AVA). This makes it Oregon’s 19th AVA and the seventh sub-AVA of the larger Willamette Valley region. While vintners in the area have long known their wines are special thanks to a unique microclimate, the new designation brings more prestige to the wines and likely more visitors who want to explore the area.
The Van Duzer Corridor AVA spans a nearly 60,000-acre triangular swath of land, flanked by the Eola-Amity Hills AVA on the east side and the McMinnville AVA to the north. The Corridor is an anomaly in the Coast Range that allows mild, oceanic winds to funnel through the valley. Growers in the Van Duzer Corridor assert that this cooling effect is ideal for growing Pinot Noir because it forces the grapes to develop thicker skins–which results in richer, darker wines.
The approval of the new Van Duzer AVA is expected to bring more prestige to the area because wineries can now label their wines as products of the Van Duzer Corridor. “Consumers will know that the wines come from a distinct microclimate,” says Florent-Pierre Merlier, winemaker at Van Duzer Vineyards. “The afternoon winds are not only good for growing grapes. The pleasant breeze also makes late afternoon wine tasting really enjoyable in this area,” adds Merlier.
Where to Sip
Wineries in the Van Duzer Corrindor AVA with cozy tasting rooms open to the public include Andante Vineyards, Chateau Bianca, Firesteed Cellars, Johan Vineyards, Left Coast Cellars, Namaste Vineyards and Van Duzer Vineyards.
Where to Eat
Left Coast Cellars serves up wood-fired pizza on weekends. In Independence, the newly opened Valkyrie Wine Tavern offers Tavern-style food in a fun, eclectic atmosphere. Or finish the day with dinner at Latitude One; a fine-dining restaurant located in Dallas.
Where to Stay
Airlie Farm Bed & Breakfast offers a cozy stay on a 226-acre working horse farm outside of Monmouth. The Little Luckiamute B&B in Falls City offers relaxing accommodation and a creekside view. The Grand Hotel, located in downtown Salem, makes an ideal home-base to explore the Van Duzer Corridor AVA.
To plan your trip or learn more, visit travelsalem.com.