Today on the Land Use Trail: Yamhill County Vineyards

Throughout the year, we'll be featuring stops on our Land Use Trail. Today, December 12: Yamhill County Vineyards, the beautiful heart of a $3 billion industry.

About: ‚ÄčLocated around the cities of Newberg, McMinnville, and Dundee, just an hour from much of Oregon’s population, Yamhill County’s Wine Country is home to 290 of Oregon’s 400 wineries, which combined are a $3 billion industry. Known for its world-class Pinot Noir, Yamhill County is home to some of the state’s longest-running wineries such as: Ponzi, Erath, Sokol Blosser, and Eyrie, founded by “Papa Pinot” himself, David Lett. If it weren’t for the protections provided in Oregon’s land use program, this region would almost certainly have been developed long before the wine industry really took root. 1000 Friends works with local affiliate Friends of Yamhill County to protect this industry and help its positive impacts grow.

Key Fact: Although Oregon’s first modern-era winery is actually Hillcrest Vineyard, near Roseburg, Yamhill County is seen by many as the birthplace of Oregon’s acclaimed wine industry. The creation of the state’s land use laws, including urban growth boundaries, helped protect the burgeoning wine industry from development while a small cohort of Oregon winemakers got established. David Lett, a recent UC Davis graduate, planted the first pinot noir grapes in the Willamette Valley in the 1960s. By the 1970s and 1980s, Oregon wineries were winning international acclaim, and the industry grew substantially. Today there are roughly 400 wineries and over 500 vineyards in the state.

Another Cool Fact:  While all of Yamhill County is in the Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area, the county also contains several smaller AVAs, showcasing its unique geographies and climate zones. These include the Chehalem Mountains, the Dundee Hills, the Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, and Yamhill-Carlton. The smallest of these is Ribbon Ridge, located just about 20 miles from downtown Portland, which is just 3,350 acres.


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See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

Help us protect Oregon’s irreplaceable farmlands and grow their economic contributions at

Photo: "Bounty," by Patrick Morgan, via Flickr. Creative Commons.