The Northern Willamette Valley runs from the Columbia River in Portland, south through Salem, to the Calapooya Mountains near Eugene. The Coast Range marks its west boundary and the Cascade Mountains mark the east.
In general, the climate is mild, with cool and wet winters, and summers that are dry and warm, though temperatures and rainfall vary widely throughout. The Willamette Valley as a whole is geologically diverse, made up of an old volcanic and sedimentary seabed, shaped and overlaid with material from the Missoula Floods between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago.
The J. Christopher winery and our estate vineyard, Appassionata, are located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, a beautiful growing region of more than 100 square miles, located just 19 miles from Portland's city center and 45 miles from the coast. Elevation in this AVA ranges from 200 to 1,633 feet, and temperatures and rainfall can vary widely. The soil in this AVA is amazing, encompassing everything from sedimentary sea beds to red volcanic soils to glacial sediment. In our own vineyard, Appassionata, we have counted 11 different soil types. With the variations in aspect and soil, we have at least 10 or 12 distinctly different terroir possibilities to work with. It's a really interesting piece of property geologically, which makes it fascinating viticulturally as well. See AVA map ».
In the Chehalem Mountains AVA, we source fruit from these excellent vineyards: Appassionata (our own estate vineyard), Lia's and Medici.
The Dundee Hills AVA is defined by a chain of hills created by a combination of volcanic activity and tectonic shifts. The area is noted for its red volcanic Jory soils, which provide optimal drainage for grapes. Located about 28 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles inland from the Oregon Coast, this growing area is protected from severe weather by the Coast Range. It gets about 30 to 45 inches of rain per year, most of which falls outside of the growing season.
In the Dundee Hills AVA, we source fruit from these excellent vineyards: Abbey Ridge, Baptista-Maresh, Bella Vida, Charlie's Vineyard and La Colina.
See AVA map ».
The Eola-Amity Hills AVA covers almost 38,000 acres stretching from Amity to Salem. Like the Dundee Hills, this string of hills ranging from 250 to 700 feet in elevation was created by intense volcanic and tectonic activity. The weather here is mild, with cool summer afternoons lending firm acidity to developing grapes, and the average 40 inches of annual precipitation having the good grace to wait until after harvest to fall. The shallow, rocky soils here are mainly volcanic basalt, with some marine sediment and alluvial deposits, providing good drainage for grapes of great concentration. See AVA map ».
In the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, we source fruit from these high-quality vineyards: Bieze, En Gedi and Three Angels.