Cristom Vineyards is based in Salem, Oregon. It was founded in 1992 by Paul Gerrie, an engineer with a taste for Burgundy. He and his family moved to Oregon to make Pinot Noir and their debut commercial wine was the 1992 vintage. Gerrie his wife and adult children run the 65-acre estate. Steve Doerner is winemaker. Cristom is known for its estate Pinot Noir, but also makes Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier and Syrah. The wines earn compliments from critics and scores in the mid-90s.
Willamette Valley AVA was established in 1983, and it is the oldest appellation in Oregon. Oregon’s modern wine industry began in the Willamette Valley in the 1960s when artists, vagabond winemakers, and U.C. Davis oenology graduates looking for new territory started their own, small, off-the-grid wineries. The appellation is the state’s largest, and it extends 175 miles from Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border to just south of Eugene, near central Oregon. The Willamette River runs through the area, helping to give the appellation a mild year-round climate. There are six smaller sub-appellations within this AVA, but altogether the Willamette Valley has the largest concentration of wineries in Oregon, as well as the majority of the state’s most famous producers. Pinot Noir is king here, followed by Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling. To most admirers of Oregon Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley offers the most distinctive wine choices in the state.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.