The beautiful state of Oregon has, over the past few decades, become increasingly well known and respected for its wine industry, with several small but significant wineries within the state receiving world wide attention for the quality of their produce. Whilst the first vineyards within Oregon were planted in the 1840s, the state's wine industry didn't really take off until the 1960s, when several wine producers from California discovered that the cooler regions of the state were ideal for cultivating various fine grape varietals. Today, Oregon has over four hundred and fifty wineries in operation, the vast majority of which are used for the production of wines made from Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir varietal grapes, both of which thrive in the valleys and mountainsides which characterise the landscape of the state.
Pinot Gris :Of similar origin to Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris owes most of its American popularity to Oregon winemakers (though the Willamette Valley version bears little resemblance to Italy's Pinot Grigio!). It is much less perfumed that Gewurztraminer, with very little aromatic quality. It makes up for that with its food versatility and rich extract of tree fruits such as peaches and pears. Pinot Gris exhibits and exciting spicy quality and acidity in the mouth.
Pinot Gris is generally found wherever Pinot Noir is grown, especially in France where it is to be found in Burgundy, but nowadays it is better known in Alsace. There are plantings in Germany, Italy and in Central and South-East Europe, in U.S.A. where small plantings have been established in several states, and in Australia.
In Australia, although a variety bearing that name was introduced in 1832, it is only in the 1990s that the true variety has achieved recognition by growers and consumers, with the most important but small plantings located in Victoria, and Tasmania and South Australia.
In Australia the varietal label Pinot Gris will usually indicate a wine made in the full-bodied style of Alsace in France and Germany, whilst the label Pinot Grigio will usually indicate that the wine is made in the dry, lighter, Italian-influenced style.