Here’s a welcome summertime news flash. The latest Nielsen report is in for the 52 weeks ending July 13. The figures reflect U.S. wine sales across a variety of off-premise formats and now capture even more of the transactions taking place in high-volume markets where grocery store distribution of fine wines is not currently permitted.
Oregon’s upward trajectory in consumer sell-through is once again confirmed by the new Nielsen data. Brand Oregon’s total dollar volume for the past year is up 14% outpacing the table wine category’s overall national growth trend of just 1%.
While it’s tempting to stop there with that good news, we can’t ignore the fact that unfortunately, the summer wildfire season is again upon us. The broad assortment of fire smoke compounds, in both “free” and “bound” forms expressing themselves in grapes and wines was the subject of an industry task force meeting at which Oregon was represented along with grape growers and research scientists from California and Washington state.
One important agenda item we dealt with was crop insurance. While you may have heard rumors that Oregon vineyards are under-insured compared to those in neighboring states, the data from USDA’s Risk Management Agency support that assertion. The RMA reports that 30% of Oregon’s wine grape acreage is currently crop-insured versus levels surpassing 75% in California and Washington.
There were also some suggestions offered during that meeting based on industry best practices that might be of value as you prepare for the harvest. Be aware however that they are no replacement for legal advice.
As always, COMMUNICATION is crucial especially since scientific understanding of smoke compounds is evolving and most grape contracts do not anticipate the range of potential outcomes from smoke near vineyards.
If it is likely that wine grapes may be affected by smoke, then dialogue between the grower and winery a few weeks in advance of the expected pick can help avoid some unpleasant surprises. Informal but important conversations can address things such as:
Will grapes be independently lab tested before the projected harvest date? By which lab and what will the testing panel look for?
How many days after the grape samples are sent will the grower see the results and discuss them with the winery?
What levels of which phenolic compounds are grounds for possible contract revisions or cancellations?
Are there circumstances under which the grower can ask for re-testing of grape samples and will the winery pay for it?
Can the grower and winery agree that a “bucket” or small-batch fermentation may also be helpful with the resulting wine sent for lab testing providing results that can be discussed before the anticipated harvest dates?
Is there a role for an independent sensory panel to evaluate wines from test fermentations?
On a brighter note, one resourceful solution to dealing with fire smoke was conceived by our colleagues in the Columbia Gorge AVA after the ’17 vintage and it will help raise money for the Eagle Creek Restoration Fund. Here are more details on that inspiring approach taken by Phelps Creek Vineyards, Mt. Hood Winery and Stave & Stone Winery as reported by our friends at the Oregon Wine Press.
Finally, our office has been getting requests for the OWB’s most recently updated map highlighting Oregon’s 19 AVAs. We figured it’s easier for everyone if we just invite you to click here for that image and want to encourage you to share it widely with friends and neighbors. If the map looks familiar it’s because the same format is used on other maps that are included in the OWB’s Oregon Wine Resource Studio. This treasure chest of regional maps, Oregon wine history, climatology data, soil and geology profiles is available to anyone, anytime at no charge as a set of downloadable PDFs or as customizable PowerPoint presentations.
NEWS FROM THE OREGON WINEGROWERS ASSOCIATION
The OWA’s priority legislation this year in Salem was Senate Bill 112. The measure became law three weeks ago with the Governor’s signature and for the first time gives OLCC statutory authority to collect the $25/ton grape tax from any winery crushing Oregon grapes. SB 112 was widely embraced by lawmakers of both parties representing all of Oregon’s grape growing regions. It passed out of the House after a 54-5 vote and encountered no opposition in the Senate, passing 28-0. The law takes effect on July 1, 2021.
And as many in our industry have heard, the OLCC has been holding wine industry listening sessions. The four-meeting schedule concludes today in Pendleton. Here is a link to the recording of the first meeting held on July 17 in Medford for those interested in viewing the one hour and 43 minute discussion.
Wine Spectator Fall Advertising Opportunity
Wine Spectator is offering cooperative advertising opportunities in December’s Top 100 Wines of the Year issue, providing exposure in the magazine at a more affordable price than standalone advertising. Up to 18 first-come, first-served spaces are available.
OWB-Funded Research Update: Determining the Role of Auxin Response Factor 4 in the Timing of Véraison
Dr. Laurent Deluc, associate professor in grapevine genetics and genomics in the Department of Horticulture at OSU, has prepared an update about research he is conducting to understand the impact of auxin-related protein ARF4 on the timing of ripening initiation in Vitis vinifera.
August 2019 Weather and Climate Forecast
On Aug. 3, Dr. Greg Jones of Linfield College published an updated weather and climate summary and forecast. This report looks back at July conditions and forecasts conditions for August, September and October.
2018 Preliminary Grape Pricing Report Available (Revised)
The preliminary pricing report for grapes from the 2018 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Survey is available. It includes weighted average prices and median prices by region and variety, as well as minimum and maximum prices per ton to provide a more comprehensive picture of pricing around the state. Note, some figures have been updated since the report was first issued July 15.
Regional Winery Visitor Profile Research Available
Over the past year, researchers at the University of Oregon have been conducting a study to understand the demographics, attitudes and behaviors of people who visit wineries in three of Oregon’s major wine regions: the Columbia Gorge, Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley. Presentations from workshops held this spring in each region are now available, as is the presentation on the Willamette Valley sponsored by the WVWA.
OWB-Funded Research Update: Using MLF to Prevent Brettanomyces bruxellensis Spoilage
Dr. James Osborne, associate professor and enology extension specialist at OSU, has prepared an update about research he is conducting to investigate interactions between the wine spoilage yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis and the malolactic bacteria Oenococcus oeni in order to reduce the risk of wine spoilage.
CALLS FOR WINE
Call for Symposium 2020 Wine Trial Proposals
With harvest on the way, you may be thinking about exploring new winery tools and techniques. If you have an experiment or trial you would like to develop and share at the 2020 Oregon Wine Symposium, contact Scott Dwyer. You may also reach out with an idea for which you need help developing a protocol. The Symposium organizers are searching for three trials, ideally focused on viticulture, enology and a product/tool.
Participate in Pinot Palooza L.A. | Sept. 28
The global Pinot noir event Pinot Palooza is making its entrance into the U.S. market with an event in Los Angeles on Sept. 28. The event producers invite Oregon wineries to sign up to participate, with details available on the event prospectus website. Scroll down on the site for exhibitor details and participation fees.
Eugene Magazine to Feature Oregon Wine in December | Deadline: Oct. 11
Eugene Magazine invites all Oregon wineries to submit a bottle of their signature wine with tasting notes for inclusion in their Winter issue, which comes out in December and will feature Oregon wine statewide. The submission deadline is October 11.
Come Share Your Winery’s Story with the OWB
The OWB team always likes getting to know better the community we represent. Wineries are invited to sign up to share their wines and brand story with us in our office at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know our organization better, ask questions and share your suggestions.
Find or List Grapes for Sale on OWB’s Marketplace
If you are looking for a buyer for your grapes, or are interested in buying grapes, don’t forget to check out the Marketplace on the OWB’s industry website. The Marketplace also includes listings for bulk wine, equipment and job opportunities.