Snake River Valley AVA (Oregon)

Snake River Valley AVA (Oregon)

43°6'55" N


115°31'35" W




about this subregion

The Snake River Valley AVA, straddling southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon, is a distinctive wine-growing region marked by its unique environmental conditions. Situated at approximately 43°6'55" N and 115°31'35" W, this AVA is characterized by an inland location, shielded from coastal influences by the Cascade, Sierra Nevada, and Owyhee mountain ranges.

This region experiences an average annual rainfall of about 254 to 305 millimeters, predominantly in winter. The growing season is relatively short, averaging 142 days, but the climate is favorable for viticulture, with hot days and cool nights during the summer. These conditions are ideal for balancing natural acids and sugars in grapes, contributing to the quality of the wine produced.

The topography of the Snake River Valley is notable, with vineyards primarily located between 457 and 762 meters in altitude, in a basin area that appears sunken compared to the surrounding higher mountains. This elevation range contributes to the unique microclimates within the AVA.

The Snake River Valley AVA is renowned for cultivating a variety of high-quality grape types. Key varieties include Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnay. The interplay of climate, topography, and soil in the region makes it conducive to growing these diverse grape varieties, each adding to the rich viticultural tapestry of the Snake River Valley.


vinerra illustration

Vineyard Hectares





Discover Terroir

Stretching across the border between Oregon and Idaho border, the Snake River Valley AVA is a region of remarkable geographical diversity. Its sprawling landscape showcases rolling hills graced with flourishing vineyards, all elegantly framed by the gentle meanders of the Snake River. This picturesque terrain, marked by its undulating topography, weaves a captivating tapestry of microclimates, each contributing distinct characteristics to the AVA's terroir. The surrounding natural features, including the hills and the meandering river, exert a profound influence on the grape cultivation practices that thrive here.

This dynamic and multifaceted environment not only renders the Snake River Valley AVA an enticing destination for viticulture and winemaking but also offers a rich and diverse array of flavors that artfully capture the essence of the land and its unique character. Amidst this scenic splendor, the vineyards flourish, producing grapes that become the cornerstone of exceptional wines that truly reflect the region's natural beauty and winemaking expertise.

Nestled within the Snake River Valley AVA, the high desert climate stands as a defining feature that deeply influences the region's viticulture. Positioned at elevated altitudes, this landscape encounters warm, sun-soaked summers that are generously bathed in sunlight and followed by pleasantly cool evenings. This significant daily temperature shift plays a pivotal role in shaping the grapes' character, preserving essential acidity, and fostering the nuanced development of flavor profiles.

The contrasting winter months usher in a different facet of the climate, characterized by chilly temperatures that lead to the vines' dormancy, providing a necessary respite to rejuvenate for the forthcoming growing season. This intricate dance between seasons is the hallmark of the Snake River Valley's climate, creating an optimal environment for grape cultivation.

With its diverse climatic expressions, the Snake River Valley AVA provides an alluring canvas for winemakers to craft wines that genuinely mirror the terroir of the region. It is this distinctive climate, marked by its diurnal temperature fluctuations and stark seasonal contrasts, that allows the wines of the Snake River Valley AVA to capture the essence of the land and its captivating beauty.

The Snake River Valley AVA is marked not only by its climate but also by the diverse soils underlying its vineyards. These soils significantly shape the wines produced in the region. Here's an introduction to the three primary soil types:

Volcanic Soils: Rich in minerals due to past volcanic activity, these soils provide excellent drainage, resulting in wines with a mineral character and vibrant acidity.

Alluvial Soils: Predominant in the valley floor, these soils originate from sediment deposits carried by the Snake River. They have high water-holding capacity, contributing to well-structured wines.

Loess Soils: Composed of wind-blown silt and clay, loess soils are found throughout the AVA. They retain water well, creating wines with a lush mouthfeel and fruit-forward characteristics.

The diverse soils in the Snake River Valley AVA, from volcanic to alluvial and loess, enrich the terroir, influencing grape cultivation and enhancing wine complexity.


The Snake River Valley AVA's unique terrain and climate create ideal conditions for cultivating various grape varieties, each with specific growing requirements.

  1. Syrah: Favors the AVA's warmer areas, needing plenty of sunshine for optimal sugar and color development. Syrah is suited to well-drained soils and can tolerate drought, aligning with the region's drier climate.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: Requires a long, warm growing season, which is available in the Snake River Valley. This grape adapts to different soil types and benefits from the region's cool nights for maintaining acidity.
  3. Riesling: Best grown in the cooler microclimates of the AVA, it appreciates the significant day-to-night temperature variations. Riesling adapts well to various soils and enjoys a longer ripening period.
  4. Merlot: Thrives in moderate to warm areas, needing less heat than Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot adapts to a range of soils but prefers fertile, well-drained ones. The warm days and cool nights of the region aid in its gradual ripening.
  5. Gewürztraminer: Suited to the cooler zones, this grape requires a long growing season and is sensitive to high heat. It prefers well-drained soils and can handle some drought, benefiting from the cooler sites for steady ripening.
  6. Chardonnay: Adaptable to the AVA's varied climates, it needs moderate warmth and cool nights for acidity preservation. Chardonnay grows well in different soil types, with a preference for fertile, well-drained soils.

These varieties, each with their tailored agricultural needs, contribute significantly to the Snake River Valley AVA's diverse viticulture.

Nestled within the picturesque Snake River Valley AVA, a remarkable array of wines awaits discovery. These wines encapsulate the essence of the region's unique terroir, offering an intriguing journey for wine enthusiasts. Here's a glimpse into the aromatic and flavor profiles of some of the most common wines from this captivating Oregon gem:

  1. Riesling: Riesling wines from Snake River Valley are celebrated for their vibrant and aromatic profiles. They exhibit fragrant notes of green apple, citrus, and hints of honey. On the palate, they are marked by bright acidity, offering flavors of orchard fruits and a refreshing, crisp finish.
  2. Chardonnay: Chardonnay wines display an enticing blend of apple, pear, and citrus aromas, often complemented by subtle oak influences. On the palate, they offer a balanced combination of creamy textures and crisp acidity, featuring flavors of ripe orchard fruits and a touch of vanilla.
  3. Syrah: Syrah wines from this region exude enticing aromas of dark berries, black pepper, and hints of smoked meat. On the palate, they showcase a harmonious balance of fruitiness and earthy complexity, with a long, flavorful finish.
  4. Merlot: Merlot wines are known for their approachable and fruit-forward nature. Aromas of plum, cherry, and a touch of chocolate entice the senses. The palate reveals flavors of ripe red fruits, soft tannins, and a velvety finish.
  5. Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon wines are bold and structured, offering aromas of blackcurrant, cedar, and subtle herbaceous notes. On the palate, they are marked by dark fruit flavors, firm tannins, and a long, satisfying finish.
  6. Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris wines present an inviting bouquet of citrus, pear, and floral notes. They offer a lively and crisp palate with flavors of green apple, melon, and a zesty, refreshing finish.

These wines from Snake River Valley AVA, known for their distinct aromatic and flavor profiles, reflect the diversity and richness of the region's terroir, inviting wine enthusiasts to embark on a flavorful journey through Oregon's winemaking excellence.