Let’s face it, wine grown without soil is, well, impossible! The Willamette Valley happens to be a unique region for “famous soil.” Our famed three soil types are volcanic, sedimentary and silt based soils. These soils not only help define a wine flavor profile but make growing grapes a tasty adventure. | Volcanic Basalt-Based Soil | The volcanic basalt-based soil here is called Jory. Named after the Jory family who settled here in 1852 (after traveling the Oregon Trail) this flagship dirt is found in most vineyard sites around the Dundee Hills. Surely the most famed of the three main soil types in the Willamette Valley, the Jory soils are rich in nutrients, high in clay content and iron, and have a distinct reddish color. These Jory soils pre-date the Missoula Floods somewhere between 6 to 15 million years ago. This soil presence adds a minerality to wine, especially on the finish, with a bright cherry influence. | Marine Sediment Soil | The mustard-tinted sedimentary soil in the Willamette Valley is called Willakenzie. At one point, Western Oregon was on the floor of the Pacific Ocean (about 15 million years ago) when the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collided, lifting up this ocean floor and creating the Coast Range and the Cascade Mountains. This rich marine sediment was initially lifted up by these collided plates. The Willakenzie soils are the oldest of the soils in Willamette Valley and are typically described as adding more dark fruit characteristics, like blackberry and black cherry, and sometimes a more earthy note to wine. | Windblown Silt Soil | The youngest, lightest in color and shallowest of Willamette’s three soil types is the Loess or windblown type, silt loam. In the Willamette Valley they are called Brown and Laurelwood. Loess’ silty soil arrived to this area by wind after the retreat of the Ice-Age glaciers. This windblown soil layered up in the valley’s hillsides and what was left is a powdery soil that has fabulous drainage but in turn, easily erodes. Vineyards aren’t readily planted with Loess but this soil has built a reputation for adding unique character to wine, like pops of red fruit and earthy white pepper notes. These wines are often more round or voluptuous in style as well.
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