Wine Enthusiast Magazine announced Oregon’s Willamette Valley as its 2016 Wine Region of the Year for its annual Wine Star Awards.

Wine Star Awards are viewed as some of the most influential in the wine industry. Each year editors of Wine Enthusiast recognize and celebrate individuals, companies and regions that have made exceptional achievements and contributions in the wine world. Other 2016 nominees for Wine Region of the Year included Champagne, France; Crete,Greece; Sonoma County, California and Provence, France.

“We are humbled by this award, especially as we also acknowledge the great regions who were also nominated for Wine Region of the Year,” said Sue Horstmann, executive director of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. “This award validates all of the hard work of each and every winemaker in the Willamette Valley over the course of our 50-year history. Our region is now the epicenter of Oregon’s $3.35 billion dollar per year wine industry with more than 500 wineries. And in many ways, it’s just getting started.”

“This award is the direct reflection of the attention and care given by Oregon’s growers and winemakers from vine to bottle,” said David Beck, chairman of the Oregon Wine Board. “Oregon’s wine industry is largely comprised of small to mid-sized family farms, more than half of which produce fewer than 5,000 cases of wine per year. Winegrowers pour countless hours into honing their craft and tending to their vines to ensure every grape is of the highest quality.”

Just over fifty years ago, David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyards, planted the Willamette Valley’s first Pinot noir. Others soon joined the quest, giving rise to an entire wine industry known for its world-class Pinot noir and inviting hospitality.

Wine Star Awards were awarded Jan. 30 in Miami, FL. with the Willamette Valley featured in Wine Enthusiast’s December 2016 issue.

The Willamette Valley finds is in good international company in the Region of the Year category with previous years’ recipients including Lodi, New York State, Paso Robles, Ribera delDuero, Colchagua Valley, Mendoza, Alexander Valley, Rioja, and the Rhône.