Oregon's Willamette Valley: Home to some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world, fantastic truffles, excellent restaurants, and…French investors?
There has been an influx of money to Oregon by a veritable flotilla of French investors and wine producers. Which, given the fact that Oregon's marquis wine region hasn't been on the map for all that long when compared to Burgundy, and that it specializes in one of the most finicky grape varieties around, is nothing short of remarkable.
For the last millennium or so, there has been a more or less complete agreement in the wine world that the benchmark by which all other Pinot Noir is measured comes from Burgundy. This isn't to say that there aren't stunning Pinot bottlings from other places—the Russian River Valley, Australia's Mornington Peninsula, Martinborough in New Zealand, and more—but with a head start of more than 1,000 years, and some of the most revered Pinot vineyards on the planet (Romanée-Conti, Bonnes-Mares, Richebourg, etc.), Burgundy is the 5,000-pound elephant in the room whenever discussion turns to Pinot Noir.
What is it, then, that has made Oregon such a hotbed of French wine investment?
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