That world-village, holistic approach is likely what Oregon will continue bringing to the table. No one who watches the business expects the state's wine industry to explode to the levels of its California neighbor. Part of the reason is the grape itself. The famously finicky Pinot Noir performs best with a lower, more easily controlled crop load. In Napa Valley, wineries generally want to produce 4 or 5 tons per acre. In Oregon, 2 tons per acre is considered a solid yield. In fact, using Napa standards, the state's only genuinely large winery, King Estate, would qualify just as a midsize property.

Which is the way everyone in the state likes it. Among the more interesting statistics are the ones that rank Oregon second nationally for number of wineries, but fourth for production output. That means more people and more labor are needed to make a smaller amount of product. If you're tallying GDP, that's bad. If you're choosing a bottle to go with your fresh Copper River salmon, that's good. And in Oregon, increasingly, that good is becoming great.

Portland, Oregon-based writer and photographer 's work has appeared in National Geographic Adventure, The Atlantic Monthly, Spy, and Reader's Digest.
We canvassed Oregon winemakers, merchants, critics, and restaurateurs to come up with a quite nice shopping list of top Pinot Noirs.