Before everyone gets away for the holiday break, let me quickly mention some items of interest.
First, there are just four weeks left to get the best deals on Oregon Wine Symposium tickets. The Early Bird discount prices end Jan. 15.
Second, the clock is ticking, and there is just over a week left to act if you want to take advantage of the OWB’s partnership with FedEx allowing you to ship wines for free to the TEXSOM International Wine Awards.
Third, if you missed the recent news from Wine Spectator that six Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley were selected for this year’s global Top 100, read here for the details. Oregon is again over-represented on this esteemed list considering the small fraction of the world’s wine grapes grown here.
If you haven’t visited the Oregon Wine Resource Studio website recently, be sure to have a good look around at the recent upgrades, which reflect industry feedback and our analysis of visitor traffic patterns. In addition to newly updated materials, version 2.0 features improved navigation, easy access to previously downloaded assets and links for trade members to engage with OWB’s programming.
Oregon’s holiday season started early this year with a gift last week from the TTB. The Bureau took final action establishing Oregon’s 19th AVA, the 59,871-acre Van Duzer Corridor Viticultural Area west of Salem in Yamhill and Polk counties. The VDC is entirely embedded within the larger Willamette Valley AVA and includes an estimated 1,000 acres planted to wine grapes. In a time when it is easy to complain about the federal government generally, and the pace of progress at TTB in particular, these words from the new AVA’s principal petitioner warmed the heart: TTB’s “Karen Thornton was crucial to our efforts. She pointed the way and cleared the path by allowing us to tackle each section of our original failed petition. When we reached an impasse with our name, she interceded and obtained an exception. Then, she fired up the powerful TTB computers and found the citations we needed.”
Congratulations to all who played a role in bringing the Van Duzer Corridor AVA to life.
Finally, we all owe debts of gratitude to Steve Thomson and JP Valot, who are each completing their sixth and final year of service as volunteers on the Oregon Wine Board and the Oregon Winegrowers Association’s Board of Directors. We will miss their counsel and thoughtful perspectives on the wide range of issues our industry is facing. At the same time, we welcome Governor Kate Brown’s newest appointees to the OWB, Bertony Faustin and Justin King, and we’re pleased that Hilda Jones has agreed to a second three-year term.
NEWS FROM THE OREGON WINEGROWERS ASSOCIATION
OWA’s Board has been actively engaged in the ongoing investigatory and enforcement actions involving a prominent California wine company and its two Oregon brands. As many of you have seen from the media coverage, that company seems to be hoping that our commitment to defend Oregon’s AVAs and our carefully crafted labeling standards will eventually fade.
It will not.
The OWA’s Board and management team will continue to work cooperatively on behalf of our entire industry with the OLCC and TTB, as well as with our regional associations, to focus in a sustained way on strict compliance with federal laws and state rules designed to protect Oregon’s 19, and other future, AVAs. Our work with those regulatory authorities is producing results and OWA will continue to support our enforcement partners.
The OWA last week sent a second letter to the TTB in response to additional violations of federal labeling regulations. You may be aware that federal law requires wines labeled with an AVA designation to meet production standards for the named appellation. Evidence reviewed by OLCC and the Oregon Department of Justice was sufficient to convince OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks that the winery in question continues to trade on the equity of at least three Oregon AVAs without fulfilling the conditions of our labeling rules. OWA is now requesting additional federal intervention in light of the OLCC’s findings and its recommended penalties.
We’ll continue to keep you updated as this unfolds.
In other news, the OWA Board met earlier this month to review legislative proposals with potential to influence our industry.
The Board unanimously endorsed OWA’s sponsorship of a measure that would direct OLCC to collect the grape tonnage tax from out-of-state wineries licensed to do business in Oregon and which purchase Oregon fruit. And in response to recent competitive activity, OWA will also work towards adding some additional enforcement muscle to discourage those who may not be aware of, or are unconcerned with, Oregon’s wine labeling rules. OWA is advancing legislation that extends provisions of the Unfair Trade Practices Act to address violations of those rules.
Directors also agreed to actively monitor the ongoing and complicated dialogue in Salem around potential tax increases that could affect wine, beer and cider. While there are whispers in some parts of the state about OWA’s position, the Association is not lobbying for tax increases but recognizes that the state’s severe and increasing budget difficulties may create pressure from lawmakers to modernize Oregon’s 35-year-old rate structure.
From our management team: a sincere Thank You to our industry colleagues for the advice and guidance offered during the year and our very warmest wishes for a safe and memorable holiday season. Our next OWB newsletter comes your way on Jan. 8.
OREGON WINE SYMPOSIUM
Viticulture Track Focuses on Vineyard Vitality in a Changing Climate
Nowhere in the wine industry does the changing climate have a bigger impact than in the vineyard. The 2019 Symposium’s Viticulture track offers new insights and strategies to help address threats to the vineyard exacerbated by shifting climatic conditions, including water availability and red blotch disease. Each session features an OWB-sponsored researcher.
Enology Track Focuses on Mitigating Threats to Wine Quality
Oregon wine is synonymous with quality. The Enology track at the 2019 Symposium will focus on tools for new and experienced winemakers alike to support our collective high quality standards, even under tricky conditions.
The OWB has compiled a package to support distributors participating in Oregon Wine Month this May, offering the tools you need to make the pitch on the Oregon Wine Month Toolkit. Distributors interested in participating in Oregon Wine Month 2019 must complete the Distributor Commitment Form by Feb. 1.
Register for Oregon Wine Trail Toronto: April 9, 2019 | Deadline: Jan. 18
The deadline is Jan. 18 to register to join the OWB in April as we return to Toronto, where we will host an Oregon Wine Trail trade and consumer tasting as well as multiple master classes for the trade.
Webinar: Emerging Insect Pests: Threats to Oregon’s Agriculture, Forests and Plant Trade | Jan. 17
The Oregon Invasive Species Council is offering a free webinar on Jan. 17 about key emerging invasive insect threats that could cause significant impacts to Oregon’s agriculture, forests and plant trade. Please RSVP.
In November, we conducted four webinars to demonstrate use of the Oregon Wine Profit Planner Workbooks. The recordings can be accessed through the Oregon Wine Profit Planner page on the industry website.
Participate in the Linfield College 2018 Oregon Wine Industry Salary Survey
Linfield College is conducting its second annual Oregon Wine Industry Salary Survey, and requests participation from vineyard and winery managers around the state prior to Jan. 15. Results will be presented at the Oregon Wine Symposium.
December 2018 Weather and Climate Forecast
On Dec. 4, Dr. Greg Jones of Linfield College published an updated weather and climate summary and forecast. This report looks back at November conditions, provides an updated drought watch, and forecasts conditions for December, January and February.
CALLS FOR WINE
Participate in the Oregon Tempranillo Celebration | Deadline: Dec. 31
The Oregon Tempranillo Celebration will take place in Ashland Jan. 18-20. All Oregon-based Tempranillo producers are invited to participate in the Grand Tasting or to submit wines for the Critical Evaluation portion of the event. Forms must be submitted by Dec. 31.
Enter TEXSOM International Wine Awards with Free Shipping | Deadline: Dec. 31
OWB is partnering with FedEx to provide free FedEx Ground shipping on Oregon entries to the TEXSOM International Wine Awards. This program is running through Dec. 31.
Wine Spectator is offering four cooperative advertising opportunities in 2019, providing exposure in the magazine at a more affordable price than standalone advertising. Up to nine first-come, first-served spaces are available per issue.
2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant Cycle Open | Deadline: Jan. 31
The ODA is accepting proposals for the 2019 Specialty Crop Block Grant program, with applications due at noon on Jan. 31. Requests for letters of support to accompany applications are due to the OWB by Jan. 15.
OWA Annual Meeting: Jan. 30 (RSVP Requested)
The Oregon Winegrowers Association will hold its annual meeting on Jan. 30 followed by a legislative reception. This is a great opportunity to learn about OWA’s 2019 legislative priorities, compliance issues and member benefits, and to share industry goals and concerns with decision-makers.
Oregon Wine History Archive Publishes Nearly 300 Video Interviews
Congratulations to Rich Schmidt and his team at the Oregon Wine History Archive at Linfield College, who recently published 290 videos as part of their oral histories initiative. The short videos each focus on one of 26 themes and span the entirety of the state’s winegrowing regions. Production of these videos was made possible in part by a series of grants from the OWB and TOWER, the Trust for Oregon Wine Education and Research.
Results Are In for The Wine Advocate and James Suckling
The Wine Advocate and James Suckling recently published their reviews of Oregon’s 2016 vintage. We have written a synopsis of their reports, and subscribers to each publication can access the full tasting notes and reports through their respective sites.
Find or List Grapes for Sale on the 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.