Snake River Valley

Location:   The Snake River Valley is an AVA that spans from Southeastern Oregon into Southwestern Idaho. The total area is approximately 8,000 square miles.

Snake River Valley AVA Map

Wine history:   Approved in April 2007, the Snake River Valley is located in Northeast Oregon and Southwestern Idaho. While the AVA is thinly populated with wineries and vineyards in Oregon, it features the largest density of vineyards and wineries in the Idaho. The area encompasses more than 8,000 square miles at latitudes comparable to many famous wine regions around the world (43°- 46°). Formed more than four million years ago, the Snake River Valley overlays the ancient Lake Idaho bed, which creates its natural boundaries. 

Climate:   From a purely geographical standpoint, the Snake River Valley offers ideal growing conditions. Vinifera, or wine grapes, actually thrive in this distinctly four-season climate, The characteristic cold winters, which might at first seem a disadvantage, are in fact quite conducive, allowing vines to go dormant, to rest and conserve important carbohydrates for the coming season, while ridding the plants of bugs and discouraging disease.

The region's summer combination of cold nights and warm days serves to balance grape acids and sugars favorably. In the 30-40 degree diurnal temperature variations typical of this higher elevation-swings from 1 to 65 degrees are common-sugars remain high , nurtured during the long day by the abundant sunshine, while acids are maintained at favorable levels by comparatively cool evenings. These natural acids, important for the wine's taste and longevity, can be difficult to maintain in, for example, the warmer California climate.

Adequate sugar, on the other hand, is often the obstacle in Oregon, where early rains absorbed by the grapes and vines in the final stages of ripening dilute the fruit's natural levels of sugar. Because such potentially ruinous precipitation is also responsible for assorted other agricultural woes, including mold and rot, the Snake River Valley's lack of rainfall is considered a plus; here, water is one element that can be controlled by the grower through irrigation, according to calculated timing.

Soils:   The Snake River Valley is a distinctive grape growing region whose ancient volcanic sediment have bestowed fertile, well-draining soils that give growers better control throughout the grape-growing process. More importantly, this soil contributes to a unique terroir that- in the hands of talented winemakers-consistently delivers premium wines that are as memorable as they are delicious.

Topography:   Located on the same latitude as Oregon's Umpqua Valley AVA, the Snake River Valley has a more drastic diurnal temperature variation than other appellations in the Pacific Northwest due to the high elevation of most of the region's vineyards. At elevations of 2,500 feet (760 m) to 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level, the region is also more than 400 miles (640 km) from the tempering effects of the Pacific Ocean.

Predominant varieties

  • Bordeaux blends
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Carmenére
  • Grenache
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin blanc
  • Gewürztraminer

Below are some links to help you plan your trip to the Snake River Valley:

Eastern Oregon Visitors Association

Eastern Oregon is simply magical. The pace of life, which is pretty slow most of the time, leads to moments of reflection snuggled in the warmth family experiences. Come discover the magic for yourself.

Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission

Idaho is a state known for spectacular mountains, rivers and lakes. However, many are unaware that this beautiful area is also a great wine growing region.

Travel Oregon - Eastern Oregon page

It's hard to describe a region that takes up almost half the state. Geographically, Eastern Oregon ranges from alpine mountaintops and raging rivers to endless desert with ghosts towns, bustling towns and painted hills of ancient fossil beds in between.

Featured Content

  • It's back!

    Check a case of Oregon wine for free on Alaska Airlines. Learn More »

  • Wine Region of the Year!

    Oregon honored in 2013! Learn More »

  • Oregon Wine Experience App

    The app is available on iTunes for iPad only. Learn More »

  • Oregon Wine Country Plates!

    Oregon is the first in the nation to sell Wine Country license plates. Learn More »

Jun 2015

Clink! A Taste of Oregon Wine at Linfield College Oregon Wine Historical Archive

June 1, 2015 | Location

Due to the overwhelming response to Clink! A Taste of Oregon Wine, the Oregon Historical Society has developed a traveling version of the exhibition to travel the state.
Learn More »

Regional Associations Nearby

Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association

Walla Walla Wine Alliance

Get in on the OWB Social Conversation

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