Oregon Wine Board 2017-18 Annual Report
Letter from Your Chairman
I am honored to serve as your Oregon Wine Board chairman for 2018. Only in Oregon would the owner of a small vineyard outside the major growing area of the state be asked to lead such an important statewide industry. Being part of the OWB leadership team has been one of the greatest honors of my life. As the 2018 growing year wraps up and harvest proceeds across the state, I have the pleasure of reporting to you on the progress we have made in the last year.
Our most recent data show an increase in the number of wineries in Oregon to 769, with more being founded all the time. Entrepreneurs have established new vineyards all over our state, bringing the count to 1,144. Operating a wine business is never easy, but the reputation of Brand Oregon is luring many to our state, where our wines win more than their fair share of awards and command premium prices.
Customers demonstrate their appreciation of our quality by buying our wine, and sales across all channels in 2017 exceeded $3.6 million, growing 6% over the prior year. At the national level, Nielsen reports show the volume of our wine sold at retail increased by 16%, well above the industry average. Our most recent Economic Impact Study, published early 2018, shows the power of our industry within Oregon: $5.61 billion in economic impact, an increase of 67% in the past three years, with wine tourism revenue more than doubling to $787 million. Before entering the wine business, I spent my life being an employee. The first time I was able to hire someone—provide a job—I felt enormous satisfaction. I am proud that our industry
supports 7,625 jobs across the state.
Every year, the OWB staff conducts an industry survey to help us prioritize our efforts. We listen to your input and come up with a “to do” list of high priority jobs. Based on that, we are very dedicated to increasing the impact of our media relations. We have worked hard to bring in the people who write the stories and blogs that reach so many people, and this past year we introduced an additional media tour anchored around the Oregon Wine Symposium, our premier educational event.
Also based on industry feedback, we have redoubled our efforts at educating the industry about wine business topics, not only with educational programming but also with the development and launch of the Oregon Wine Profit Calculator. This innovative tool is designed to help Oregon wine businesses make smart decisions by understanding how choices made in the vineyard, cellar and sales channels impact their bottom lines. We can all benefit from this practical tool designed to help keep our businesses viable into the future.
We have fine-tuned our efforts in consumer and trade marketing, anchored by Oregon Wine Month in May, and also introduced creative programming that develops new evangelists for Brand Oregon. Our inaugural Oregon Wine Trail event took place in Los Angeles in April, the first of a series of grant-funded events whose goal is to raise awareness and expand sales opportunities for Oregon wines in key markets around the U.S. Fifty Oregon producers took part in the L.A. event, and 96% said they’d want to be part of another one.
Finally, we heard your appeal for more research on current issues in the vineyard to help us all improve our wine grape farming methods. With existential threats such as red blotch virus doing serious damage all over the state, we need to make sure our knowledge base keeps us ahead of problems so we can focus on quality. Using a portion of the funds given to us by the Oregon legislature, the Board increased our viticulture and enology research allocation to $437,000 in the upcoming year. This is by far and away the most we have ever been able to spend, and it is a much higher rate per ton than our neighboring state to the north dedicates to research.
This is a great time to be part of the wine industry in Oregon. The reputation of Brand Oregon is stronger than ever, and the ability of winegrowers and winery owners to work together to advance the entire industry is our greatest strength. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work in this position. I have enjoyed it tremendously. On behalf of the Oregon Wine Board of Directors, I want to thank you for your many contributions to our accomplishments.
Chairman, Oregon Wine Board
Owner, Celestina Vineyard