Oregon Wine Board 2015-16 Annual Report
Letter from Your Chairman
For my final Chairman’s report on the state of our industry, I am pleased to say that the strength and growth that we have seen over the past decade continues. While there are many reasons for continued optimism, the Oregon Wine Board is also increasingly aware that new pressures are affecting many family-owned wineries and vineyards across the state. For this reason, the OWB has doubled its focus on developing new programs, investing for impact, providing tools to help strengthen the Oregon Wine brand and improve operating efficiencies for Oregon’s wine community.
In terms of growth, the latest Vineyard and Winery Report shows that our industry continues to advance, but at a much more modest pace:
- Overall production in 2015 reached an all-time high of 84,949 tons, up 7% over the prior vintage. This was the result of both more planted acreage and higher than average yields per acre.
- Total case sales grew by 9%, with the largest increase coming from direct-to-consumer sales – a 14% increase over 2014. This news followed the 2015 ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines report on direct-to-consumer sales, which showed Oregon wine sales surged almost 15% last year versus an overall category rate of 8%, propelling our state’s wineries to $100 million in direct annual sales. Similarly, 2015 Nielsen data showed that Oregon wine sales were up just over 13% in national dollar
volume compared to the total table wine category growth of 5%.
- The total number of wineries reached 702, a record high and a 4% increase over 2014.
- The number of vineyards increased 2% to 1,052.
In addition to this growth, the attention and care given by our grape growers and winemakers from vine to bottle has never been higher, as evidenced by our consistently strong wine reviews. Though Oregon contributed only 1% of domestic wine production, it accounted for 21% of domestic wines that garnered a score of 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator in 2015. Additionally, five Oregon wines from four AVAs made Wine Spectator’s list of Top 100 Wines of 2015 and for the second time, an Oregon wine made the No. 3 spot.
To support this growth and national attention, your Board and OWB’s management team concentrated on engaging trade gatekeepers to increase the availability of Oregon wines, fostered industry understanding of the importance of scientific research, and drove competitive advantage through industry education. Some highlights of this past year include:
- Hosting the largest Oregon Wine Symposium to date, with more than 1,700 industry professionals in attendance.
- Welcoming the highest-performing fine wine distributors in the U.S. to Oregon as part of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America annual Conference on Leadership Development.
- Producing the inaugural edition of the Official Oregon Wine Touring Guide.
- Growing the Oregon Wine A-List Awards program by 36%. This program recognizes restaurant wine lists across the world that displays enthusiasm for the diverse regions, varieties and producers of Oregon.
- Conducting a national consumer market research study to understand the purchasing habits, buying influences and perceptions of premium wine regions among the segment of fine wine consumers who purchase 85% of wines priced more than $20 at retail.
- Leveraging federal grant funding to bring influential buyers from around the world to Oregon, and conducting international tastings for importers and restaurateurs in Europe and Asia.
- Partnering with the Oregon Winegrowers Association and regional winery groups to lobby effectively in Salem for important refinements to the 2011 legislation that established the nation’s first Wine Country License Plate program.
- Furthering our investment in technical research to support advancements in viticulture and enology through a 17% increase in funding.
With all this momentum, it is clear that our industry is on the verge of a new era. It’s been a pleasure to serve as your chairman this past year.
On behalf of the Oregon Wine Board of Directors and with gratitude for your many contributions to our accomplishments,
David Beck | Crawford Beck Vineyard
Chairman, Oregon Wine Board