Willamette Valley Vintage Chart

The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for its production of high-quality Pinot Noir wines. The following is a brief overview of the vintage variations and ratings in the Willamette Valley over the past few decades:

  • 1990s: The 1990s saw a mix of warm and cool vintages in the Willamette Valley. Some of the standout years include 1994, which produced some of the most highly rated Pinot Noirs in the region’s history, and 1998, which was a cooler year with lower yields but still produced some excellent wines.

  • 2000s: The 2000s saw a generally warm trend, with some of the warmest and driest vintages on record. 2002 was one of the best vintages of the decade, producing concentrated and complex Pinot Noirs with great aging potential. 2003 was also highly rated, although some wines suffered from overripeness and high alcohol levels. 2008 was a cooler year that produced some elegant and well-structured Pinot Noirs.

  • 2010s: The 2010s saw a return to cooler and wetter conditions in the Willamette Valley. 2010 was a standout year, producing some of the most highly rated Pinot Noirs in the region’s history. 2012 was another highly rated vintage, with wines that were more fruit-forward and approachable in their youth. 2014 was a challenging year, but some producers were able to make excellent wines despite the weather. 2015 was another standout vintage, with ripe and concentrated wines that were highly sought after.

Overall, the Willamette Valley has established itself as a consistent producer of high-quality Pinot Noir, with each vintage offering its own unique characteristics. While weather conditions can greatly affect the quality of the wines, skilled winemaking and careful vineyard management can often overcome challenges and produce excellent wines even in difficult years.

Below are the Vintage Ratings of 2000 to 2020 from three of the most reputable Wine Magazines. 

Vintage  Wine Spectator Score Wine Enthusiast Score Wine Advocate Score Description 
2020 NYR 85 R NT The Vintage’s beautiful growing season faced unprecedented challenges, including cooler spring leading to considerably low yields. However, it produced some of the best quality wines with great acidity, concentrated flavors, and great color.
2019 97 D/H 91 D/H NT The 2019 vintage experienced unique cool weather following five consecutive warm years, leading to the production of old wine Burgundian style-like wines, reminiscent of later 20th century “classic Oregon” wine with concentrated flavors and lower alcohol.
2018 94 D/H 92 D/H 96 R One of the warmest years but with a blend of cool nights producing wines with great balance and concentration of pH, acidity, and sugar.  
2017 95 D/H 93 D/H 90 E The Vintage experienced unprecedented heat stress in spring and wet winter, lowering yields but producing elegant wines with concentrated flavors and aromas.
2016 97 D/H 91 D/H 94 T The ideal weather led to a record of earlies; early growing, budding, and harvest. This weather produced more expressive wines with great structure, boasting fresh aroma with alluring floral notes.
2015 95 D/H 95 D/H 93 R The growing season experience higher than normal temperatures in the spring and summer, creating excellent budding conditions. However, standard weather in the fall allowed balanced maturation, producing wines with great concentration and flavors.
2014 96 D/H 93 D/H 92 R High temperatures in the growing season led to the production of wines with great complexion, acidity, balance, and concentration. 
2013 90 D/H 92 D/H 87 R The Vintage started in ideal weather. High summer temperatures and heavy rain in early fall threatened its balance but were remedied with ideal weather in October. This allowed excellent maturation, producing elegant wines.
2012 97 D 93 D/H  92 R Unlike 2011, the 2012 vintage experienced a dry growing season with moderate temperatures. The weather led to lower yield with concentrated flavors. The wines became excellent a few years after release.
2011 85 PP 89 CD 80 R Cooler than normal temperatures in the spring and summer led to lighter wines with earthy tones and solid acids. 
2010 94 D 87 CD 88 I  Cool spring, warmer summer, and crop thinning led to potentially excellent wines with great balance and concentrated flavors. 
2009 90 D 91 R 86 R The Vintage experienced dramatic temperature swings in the growing season. Heat spikes in early fall led to extremely ripened grapes, leading to high sugars, albeit maintaining balance. The Vintage is similar to the 2002 vintage. 
2008 96 D 92 R 94 T Cooler than normal growing season rewarded by warmer Octobers leading to potentially rich wines with concentrated acids and flavors. 
2007 84 PP 86 CD 84 T Ideal weather on the set of the growing season led to on-time budding. However, warmer summer and unprecedented rain pockets in the fall delayed ripening and harvest. Thinned vines produced elegant wines good for longevity. 
2006 92 D 94 R 91 E Idea weather conditions affected by cooler fall, potentially leading to wines with excessive alcohol. Most wines were hedonistic and boasted concentrated flavors. 
2005 93 D 89 CD  85 T Steady changes in temperatures, warm spring, cooler May and June, warm august, and heavy rains in September led to the production of elegant wines with great balance and complexion.
2004 93D 92 CD 86 E Irregular weather conditions and extreme temperatures affected vines at the start of the growing season. However, rain in the fall allowed good maturation producing excellent wines with great structure. 
2003 87 PP 86 ID 88 E Dramatic growing season with high temperatures preceding cooler pre-growing season, resulting in wines with high sugars and low acids.
2002 95 D 88 ID 92 I Early bud break and extended dry to moderate weather led to well-ripened grapes with excellent acidities, producing elegant wines. 
2001 91 PP 89 ID 85 E Ideal growing season with on-time budding, blooming, and harvest. The yield was above average, producing pretty wines. 
2000 90 PP 91 ID 86 E The Vintage experienced largely a dry growing season allowing grapes to ripen extremely well, producing wines with great color and acid concentration.

Guide to the Chart

Wine Spectator
Vintage Ratings:
Wine Enthusiast
Vintage Ratings:
Wine Advocate
Vintage Ratings:
95-100 classic
90-94 outstanding
85-89 very good
80-84 good
75-79 mediocre
50-74 not recommended
98–100 Classic
94–97 Superb
90–93 Excellent
87–89 Very Good
83–86 Good
80–82 Acceptable
NV Not Vintage Year
NR Not Rated
98–100 Classic
94–97 Superb
90–93 Excellent
87–89 Very Good
83–86 Good
80–82 Acceptable
NV Not Vintage Year
NR Not Rated
D/H – Drink or Hold
D – Ready to drink
H – wines are yet to fully mature
PP – past peal, wines are declining
NYR – Vintage not yet released
D/H – Drink or Hold, can drink, not yet at peak maturity
R – Ready, at peak maturity
CD – can drink, maybe past peak
ID – In decline, maybe undrinkable
C – Caution, may be too old
E – Early maturing and accessible
NV – Vintage not declared
I – Irregular, even among the best wines
    NT – Not yet sufficiently tasted to rate
R – Ready to drink
T – Still tannic, youthful, or slow to mature

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Categories: This Day in Wine History | Articles, Wine RegionsTags: , , By Published On: October 31, 2022Last Updated: June 23, 2023

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