The McMinnville AVA sits due west of Yamhill County's wine country home, McMinnville. It extends approximately 20 miles south-southwest toward the mouth of the Van Duzer corridor, Oregon's lowest coast range pass to the Pacific Ocean. The AVA is a blend of geo-climatic factors that make it unique among Willamette Valley AVAs. Specifically, the area encompasses the land above 200 feet and below 1000 feet in elevation on the east and southeast slopes of the foothills of the Coast-range Mountains.
Geologically, this region's soil profile is dramatically different from the other AVAs in the Willamette Valley. The soils are primarily uplifted marine sedimentary loams and silts with alluvial overlays. Beneath is a base of uplifting basalt. Clay and silt loams average 20-40 inches in depth before reaching harder rock and compressed sediments, shot with basalt pebbles and stone. The uniqueness of the soils for winegrowing is in the 20 to 40 inch depth.
Climatically, this AVA is again in a class of its own. The primarily east and south facing slopes sit in a protected weather shadow of the Coast-range Mountains. Rainfall is less (33 inches annually) than AVAs located only 12 to 20 miles to the east. The foothills also provide protection from the chilling spring and fall winds. Winegrowers also have the option of placing vineyards on more southerly facing sites to take advantage of the drying winds from the Van Duzer corridor. There are approximately 600 acres planted in the McMinnville AVA. One of the distinguishing characteristics of wines from this AVA is highly pigmented Pinot noirs with strong backbones of tannin and acidity along with massive palate of black fruit, spice, and earthy flavors.