Raise a glass to 40 years of the Willamette Valley AVA at its ‘Throwback Weekend’ event

Establishing Oregon’s first American viticultural area in 1984 laid the foundation for the award-winning wine region we enjoy today.

Susan Sokol Blosser poors a glass of wine in a tasting room. Three Sokol Blosser bottles sit on the counter in front of her.

Susan Sokol (pictured) and husband Bill Blosser planted their first vines in 1971. See more historic photos.

Photo via the Oregon Wine History Archive

Alright stop, vino time.

Throw on your hammer pants and get ready for a party at Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s “1983 Throwback Weekend,” this Friday, March 1-Sunday, March 3.

What’s the reason for the occasion — and why do we have our fists in the air?

Well, way back in December 1983, the federal government granted the Willamette Valley official status as an American viticultural area (AVA), thanks to efforts by local winemakers led by David Adelsheim. When the appellation went into effect in January 1984, the region became the first in Oregon to earn such a designation — today the state has 23 AVAs.

Veronique tastes fermentation foam from her father Robert's hand, as they stand atop a giant vat of wine. Wine barrels and an unfinished wall can be seen in the background.

Véronique tastes fermentation foam with her father Robert Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin.

Photo via the Oregon Wine History Archive

It’s been 40 years since that milestone, with plenty of awards and world-class wines in between, so a celebration is in order. Here’s a sample of the ‘80s-themed festivities:

  • Wear your gaudiest suit or dress for Pinot Prom at Brooks Winery; there will be a photo booth, disco lights, and people who come dressed to impress (or embarrass) will be entered to win a $100 gift card.
  • Inflation is a thing of the past at Violet Vines Winery, which is offering glass pours at 1983 prices.
  • Sokol Blosser Winery will live it up all weekend with the decade’s best tunes and a costume contest.
  • Complimentary wine tastings are on offer at Knudsen Vineyards, Coehlo Winery, Stoller Family Estate, Chehalem Winery, and others — like it used to be.
  • Tastings straight from the barrel at Lachini Vineyards.

That’s only a sip of all the things to do, special vintages, and tasting rooms to enjoy. See the full schedule.

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