Eola Hills AVA Proposed - TTB Petition Highlights
By Mark DeWolf
First appeared in Appellation America, Nov. 2003
Mr. Rusell Raney of Evesham Wood Vineyard petitioned the BATF to establish an Eola Hills viticultural area in Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley. The region has long been recognized as a distinct growing region within the Willamette and strong evidence has been brought forth to support its approval as an American Viticultural Area.

The Eola Hills are a north-south ridge of hills, with many lateral east-west ridges on both sides of the hill providing a diverse mix of exposures. However, most vineyards are located on the eastern side of the ridge, at elevations between 250 and 700 feet with predominantly south, southeast and southwest exposures.

A number of features distinguish the Eola Hills from other regions in the Willamette Valley. Some of these include the region’s unique soil structure. The Eola Hills eastern slopes are predominantly basalt-derived soils (Nekia series), while the west ridge is sedimentary soils. Small amounts of alluvial soil can be found within the proposed AVA at elevations under 300 feet. At these elevations slopes are steep enough to provide drainage assistance to this more fertile and water retaining soil type.

The other key climatic feature of the region is its exposure to the effects of Pacific Currents entering the valley through the Van Duzer corridor. Unlike the Willamette’s other pending American Viticultural Areas, the Eola Hills are directly affected by cool Pacific winds. These cool winds enter the region in the late afternoon and dramatically reduce late day temperatures.

AVA certification for the region has been delayed by opposition from the Eola Hills Wine Cellars. According to a letter from Eola Hills Wine Cellars to the BATF dated October 21, 2003 “in essence the granting of the AVA will steal the property rights Eola Hills Wine Cellars, Inc. has in the brand name Eola Hills.” Hopefully an amicable solution can be met between the supporters of an Eola Hills AVA and the proprietory interests of a winery that has been located in the area for a couple decades.