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.
Feb 8, 2013
Troon Vineyard has been named one of the "Top 10 Hot Brands" in America. The well respected industry publication Wine Business Monthly announced the list in its February 2013 issue. This prestigious award is perhaps the most impressive accolade this 41 year old boutique winery has received. Other past Oregon winery recipients include Willamette Valley Vineyards, Domain Drouhin, Abacela Winery, A to Z Wineworks, Willakenzie Estate and Wine by Joe.
A celebration was held in conjunction with the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, January 29th to reveal the top ten list. Cyril Penn, Editor of Wine Business Monthly, took some time to comment on the meaning and thought behind this award. "The award was started to recognize high growth small brands (under 100,000 cases annual production), but has transitioned into recognizing interesting winery leaders in a region."
Chris Martin, who is entering his 10th year of ownership of this now 41 year old vineyard, said "We couldn't be more excited. This is the culmination of the hard work and countless hours that our team has put in over the last couple years and most importantly a validation of Mr. Troon's decision to plant vines on our site over 40 years ago." He went on to say, "It has been my job and honor to continue the legacy of pioneering new and interesting programs and varietals in the Applegate Valley and in Southern Oregon. We look forward to this being a spring board to even greater things as we look to introduce our wine in more new market in 2013 and beyond."
Mr. Martin decided to plant Vementino in 2007 after discovering it on a trip through Italy years ago. "I loved it for its freshness, low alcohol and food friendliness" said Martin. "At first, people discouraged me from planting it, but I really felt after tasting some nice releases from the Paso Robles area, that it could work well here. To me it is most exciting to have the opportunity to create the benchmark wine for a varietal. That is our goal with Vermentino."
Harvey Steiman, the Oregon reviewer for the Wine Spectator recently wrote these highly encouraging words about the Southern Oregon wine region.
From a regional standpoint, Southern Oregon’s rapidly advancing wine growing region also received recognition from Steiman. He said producers from the south are starting to push the traditional boundaries of Oregon’s primarily Pinot noir culture. He noted that the wines from Southern Oregon “hold true to the same style that Oregon Pinot noirs have established: relatively light, lively with acidity and focused on clarity of flavor. Someday these Rogue Valley releases might even challenge Pinot noir for prominence in the state.”