Monday, April 09, 2007

Willamette Valley

100 The Willamette Valley is the region in northwest Oregon in the United States that environment the Willamette River as it proceeds northward from its appearance from mountains near Eugene to its confluence with the Columbia River. One of the most creative agricultural areas of the world, the valley was the destination of choice for the emigrants on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s. It has formed the cultural and political heart of Oregon since the days of the Oregon Territory, and is home to nearly 70% of Oregon's population.
The valley may be insecurely defined as the watershed of the Willamette, bounded on the west by the Coast Ranges, on the east by the Cascade Range. It is bounded on the south by the Calapooya Mountains, which separate the headwaters of the Willamette from the Umpqua River valley. Because of the differing cultural and political interests, the Portland metropolitan area, as well as the Tualatin River valley, is often disincluded in the local use of the term. Cities for all time considered part of the Willamette Valley are Eugene, Corvallis, Albany, and Salem.

The agricultural richness of the valley is considered to be in no small measure a result of the Missoula Floods, which inundated the valley just about forty times between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The floods were caused by the intervallic rupturing of the ice dam of Glacial Lake Missoula, the waters of which swept down the Columbia and flooded the Willamette Valley as far south as Eugene. The floodwaters carried rich volcanic and glacial soil from Eastern Washington, which was deposited across the valley floor when the waters subsided.
The main agricultural products of the valley include many varieties of berries and vegetables. The valley also produces mainly of the grass seed, Christmas trees and hazelnuts sold in North America. But it is greenhouse and nursery stock that have become the biggest agricultural commodity in the valley.
In current decades, the valley has also become a major wine producer, with multiple American Viticultural Areas of its own. With a cooler climate than California, the gently rolling hills surrounding the Willamette are home to some of the best pinot noir in the New World, as well as a high-quality pinot gris.

No comments: