In interviews and official literature, the number that winemakers, merchants, and industry leaders tout the most is 45. That's Oregon wine country's approximate degree of northerly latitude, the same one that runs through Burgundy, France, the region traditionally associated with great Pinot Noir. The implication is that the shared latitude bestows a degree of prestige upon the local product. But, big whoop, the 45th parallel also crosses Minneapolis, Halifax, and Kazakstan, and the world isn't forking out $195 million for their wines.

The fact is that while geography, climate, favorable clay-loam soil, and long hours of summer sunshine contribute greatly, Oregon has become an international wine force due in large part to the drive of a unique collection of people. The modern wine industry was founded in Oregon in the late 1950s and '60s by "wine pioneers" such as Rich-ard Sommer (Hill- crest Vineyards) and David Lett (Eyrie Vineyards) a.k.a Papa Pinot. But the recent boom was triggered when famed Burgundy viticulturist Robert Drouhin purchased property and started making wine in Oregon. The release of Domaine Drouhin Oregon's first vintage in 1988 gave Oregon a European footing, but the business has evolved with the local flair you'd expect from a region where co-op groceries, tie-dyed shirts, and "One Love" buttons still reign as staples, not fads.