Appearance of the Country
Soils. – The visitor to Yamhill County will be immediately struck by how much soil there is just lying around. The red soil of the Dundee Hills is distinct from that of the surrounding valley floor in being native Oregonian basalt; the rich dark soil of the valley floor actually came from places such as Montana at the end of the last ice age. At that time as the glaciers started to recede, a huge ice dam broke and created a cataclysmic flood down through today’s Columbia Valley and into the Willamette Valley. Left poking up through the dark soil of the Valley was the native Oregonian basalt.
The red color of the Dundee Hills comes from its high content of iron. It is nutritively fairly poor soil which makes it ideal for growing wine grapes (keeping in mind that grapes are like poets-they are at their best when they have to struggle for their existence!).
Glacial Erotics. – Between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, commonly known as the pre-menstrual period, frigidity descended upon a small section of the Willamette Valley. Glaciers moved across the landscape, scouring, polishing and reducing large rocks into small spherical stones.
Shortly thereafter, there was a dramatic increase in the earth’s temperature, which until recently had gone unexplained. The key to this climactic puzzle was supplied, interestingly enough, by an anthropologist, Dr. Benjamin Wah.
While digging in an ancient Indian burial mound dated to this time period, Dr. Wah discovered many of the previously-mentioned small stones associated with female pelvic bones.
These little granite balls now bear their discoverer’s name, as does a winery which is located at the burial mound site.
Wildlife. – Though the life of the average resident of Yamhill County is not so wild, there is nevertheless some wildlife lurking about. Electric fences are only meant partly to keep out curious Homo sapiens; they are principally designed to discourage deer from browsing in the vineyards. In certain areas, deer are quite plentiful and, unchecked, can wipe out the better part of a vineyard.
Birds form a notable aspect of the local wildlife. Each year in late March the Cameronstrano Swallows return to Cameron Winery from their yearly migration to Brazil. Nesting under the rooftiles of the building, they serve as the first line of insect control. My friend Flicker, a bird with a brain about the size of a mosquito, is amazingly adept at drilling holes in the sides of building (when it is not trying to drill into gutters, rain spouts or metal flashing). Red Tail Hawks are so prominent here that their nests have been named after a famous vineyard in the Dundee Hills.
Begin by selecting a morsel below or from the sandy column just to the right -->
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