Elkton Oregon became the state’s newest American Viticultural Area after receiving approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau this week. The new Elkton Oregon AVA is entirely contained within the Umpqua Valley AVA, which is entirely within the Southern Oregon AVA. Oregon has a total of 17 AVAs.
By gaining AVA status, winegrowers and winemakers within the Elkton Oregon AVA can better describe the origin of their wines and consumers can better identify wines they may purchase. The TTB ruling is effective March 7, 2013. The AVA may be referred to as Elkton Oregon or Elkton OR.
The newest Oregon AVA is the fulfillment of wine pioneer Ken Thomason’s dream of growing world class cool climate Pinot noir and white grapes near the small town of Elkton, which has a population of 170. Thomason began planting grapes in 1972 on a west facing bench two miles east of Elkton at a site now owned by Mike and Vonnie Landt of Rivers Edge Winery.
The climate in Elkton is quite different from the prevailing perceptions of the surrounding areas. Southern Oregon is most often thought of as warmer and drier than winegrowing areas farther north in the Willamette Valley.
Due to its location on the Umpqua River and only 36 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the geography allows for a strong marine influence with daily sea breezes and fog penetrating into the Umpqua River Valley. This gives Elkton its unique climate – cool, maritime and temperate – which is ideal for the varieties that Thomason originally planted.
The local group which mounted the effort for the AVA’s approval called out Greg Jones of Southern Oregon University for his efforts in preparing and submitting the successful petition for AVA status to TTB.