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Yamhill County ranks seventh out of Oregon's thirty-six counties in annual market value of its agricultural production. This agricultural production includes wheat, barley, horticulture, and dairy farming, with 13,201 acres in 1997 planted in orchards. One-third of the county is covered with commercial timber, and the economic mainstay of the western part of the county is logging and timber products.
Yamhill County is also the center of Oregon's wine industry, having the most acres of any Oregon county planted in vineyards. Over 80 wineries and 200 vineyards represent the largest concentration in any county in the state. Pinot Noir produced in the county rivals the best in the world. Others varieties grown include Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,861 km² (718 mi²). 1,853 km² (716 mi²) of it is land and 7 km² (3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.39% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 84,992 people, 28,732 households, and 21,376 families residing in the county. The population density is 46/km² (119/mi²). There are 30,270 housing units at an average density of 16/km² (42/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 88.98% White, 0.85% Black or African American, 1.47% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 5.08% from other races, and 2.42% from two or more races. 10.61% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 28,732 households out of which 37.40% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.00% are married couples living together, 9.90% have a female householder with no husband present, and 25.60% are non-families. 19.70% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.40% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.78 and the average family size is 3.17.
In the county, the population is spread out with 26.90% under the age of 18, 11.40% from 18 to 24, 28.50% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 102.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 101.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $44,111, and the median income for a family is $50,336. Males have a median income of $35,686 versus $25,254 for females. The per capita income for the county is $18,951. 9.20% of the population and 6.00% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 10.10% are under the age of 18 and 7.50% are 65 or older.
The earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Yamhill Indians, who have inhabited the area for over 8000 years. They are one of the tribes incorporated into the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. In 1857 they were forced to migrate to the Grand Ronde Reservation created in Oregon's Coastal Range two years earlier.
The earliest non-native settlers were employees of the various fur companies operating in Oregon, who started settling there around 1814. But it was the establishment of the Oregon Trail that led to significant migration to the area.
Yamhill County was created in July 5, 1843. It was one of the original four districts created by Oregon's first Provisional Legislature, along with Twality (later Washington), Clackamas, and Champooick (later Marion) counties. The district was originally over 12,000 square miles, an area that was broken up into twelve present-day counties.