This is the first portion of a three-part series exploring the wines of southern Oregon. Subsequent columns will explore the wines and wineries of the Umpqua and Rogue Valley regions. Over the last several decades Oregon has emerged as a major wine producer. The Willamette Valley, in particular, has gained worldwide fame for its pinot noir. The valley has certainly become the center of Oregon's wine universe, accounting for around 71 percent of the grapes grown in the state.