Soils of the Chehalem Mountains
The Chehalem Mountains were formed by uplifted sedimentary seabeds, lava flows, and wind-blown silt, resulting in some of the most diverse soils in wine country. This geological miracle serves as a laboratory for winemakers and consumers to explore the interaction of soils, terrain, elevation and climate - and their contribution to outstanding wines.
Soils derived from marine sediments are distributed primarily along the northwestern flank of the Chehalem Mountains. Marine sandstones were laid down 20-40 million years ago in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean. A subsequent uplift exposed them to the elements, allowing the development of soils with high quartz content and a rich, brown color.
Lava flows which formed the Columbia River Basalts 5-15 million years ago are the basis of the well-drained red soils concentrated in the southeastern Chehalem Mountains. The deep silt and clay is underlain by gravel and fractured basalt. Dark grey parent material has weathered in place, creating soils stained rust red by iron oxide.
Powerful winds scoured sediment from the surrounding landscape 0.5 to 1.5 million years ago during the last Ice Age. This silt was deposited on the northeast flank of the Chehalem Mountains, weathering into the youngest of our major soil types. These soils are called “loess.” They are fine grained and light in color.