2024 is off to a momentous start as our wine industry navigates a continuously evolving market. You may have caught Rob McMillan’s State of the US Wine Industry Report on Jan. 18, which painted a gloomy yet cautiously optimistic picture of how our industry fared throughout 2023 and what the future may have in store. Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) volume and value sales as well as tasting room visitation were down last year while “Consumer demand for the total wine category continues its decline” as consumers turn to alternatives. These factors, combined with overproduction and subsequent high inventory of product, make for a challenging environment to say the least. The report also points to a handful of bright spots, and I encourage you to watch the full presentation here.At the same time the SVB report was being presented, I was attending the annual DtC Wine Symposium with hundreds of marketers focused on how to reach wine consumers across an array of demographics. While the challenges we face are undeniable, the Symposium gave me several insights that make me hopeful for what the future holds as it covered topics such as how the industry is marketing across generations, innovative tactics for increasing tasting room traffic and wine club memberships, integrating AI into your business, and much more.Here are my key takeaways from the event:
In a panel featuring one Boomer, one Gen X, two Millennials, and one Gen Z, it was clear that younger generations may be drinking less but they also may be spending more on the things they purchase, creating opportunities for premium wine. Wanting excellent customer service and unique experiences was shared by all generations. While all expect to hear about sustainability these days, they also want to know what else your business may be doing to make a positive impact.
AI was a frequent focus in panels, but it is something that should be embraced instead of feared. Those of us who tell stories can put AI to use as a powerful tool, and the best way to adapt is to use it to complement the work we do.
Own your weird. Instead of falling into familiar and tired tropes (“guy in vineyard with dog”), consider highlighting the quirky things about your business or property.
By thinking of people as people and not targets, continuing to experiment with new tactics, offering steadfast service combined with intermittent joy, and remembering that being boring is worse than being wrong, wineries can reach new customers.
When it comes to social media, video is still most important and if you aren’t using vertical video than you are likely missing out on the benefits of the algorithm.
Changes to how Google and other providers filter email go into effect on Feb. 1 and wineries need to make sure they are compliant. Read more.
This year’s Symposium ultimately captured an industry that is deep in an experimental stage as it explores new marketing ideas and tactics in its efforts to get multiple generations of consumers excited about wine. The industry needs to be embracing a forward-thinking mindset instead of relying on an aging customer base.
The event left me inspired and excited for OWB’s upcoming programming and initiatives taking place the first half of this year, as well as our ongoing consumer marketing strategy. Cellar Season is in full swing as we continue to promote it as special time to visit wine country. We have just launched a sweepstakes in collaboration with the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) with the objective of capturing emails and social media followers as well as driving tasting room traffic. Wineries should post events on our site and make sure tasting room listings are up to date.You may have joined the Jan. 23 Oregon Wine Month 2024 program presentation hosted by OWB Trade Relations Manager David DeWitt and myself. We shared this year’s trade and DtC programming, including several new elements, and if you missed the presentation, you can view a recording here. Keep an eye on our Oregon Wine Month toolkit, which will be updated in the coming weeks.
Lastly, Oregon’s own Wine Symposium takes place at the Portland Convention Center Feb. 13-14, and there are several marketing-focused sessions that cover topics like DtC and tasting room strategies, distribution, public relations, industry trends, and more. We would love to see you there so make sure to register if you haven’t already.
As we head into another busy year, I am reminded that one of the strongest attributes that defines Oregon’s wine industry is its dedication to the idea of “Risk, resilience, and reward.” Our state’s passionate winegrowers and producers have never backed down from a challenge and continue to find ways to increase demand and enthusiasm for Oregon wine. This is top of mind for me as I continue to work with the OWB team, regional associations, and tourism organizations across the state to tell the story of Oregon wine and develop effective programming. I love sharing and discussing new ideas, and I encourage you to reach out any time: [email protected]. Cheers!
Director of Marketing
Stay Current with Oregon Wine Month Planning
In case you missed the OWB Oregon Wine Month 2024 planning webinar on Jan.23, the recording is available here. This session covered programming for all sales channels. Stay tuned as we move closer to May and check the OWM Toolkit for available resource updates. Please contact David DeWitt with any questions as we look forward to partnering with the industry for another successful promotion.
Promote Your Events Through the Oregon Wine Board
Throughout the year, OWB promotes consumer-facing wine events through its website, Oregon Wine Insider consumer newsletter, and its social media channels. Wineries and organizers are reminded to take advantage of this promotional resource to receive maximum amplification for events. While wineries can submit individual events at any time on oregonwine.org, OWB seeks events that include multiple wineries and/or benefit a positive cause to promote on its consumer channels. Event organizers can reach out to [email protected].
New Blog Post: Reflections on Oregon’s 2023 Harvest
Although it was a few snowstorms ago, winemakers often are so busy during harvest they can’t afford to stop to sum it all up until winter hits Oregon. And hit it has. During the 2023 harvest, winemakers across Oregon faced a season unfolding differently for each, turning challenges into opportunities to do what they do best—make beautiful wine. A few testimonies from Oregon winemakers have been compiled here. Should you want your thoughts and perspective to be included in future compilations please contact Sarah Murdoch at the OWB.
Wine Industry Insights
SVB State of the U.S. Wine Industry Virtual Event | Recording Available
The panel of industry leaders discussed their observations on the current business climate and emerging trends impacting the wine industry. They offered their take on the evolution of the wine market, and shared insights on what is needed for continued success. Download the report and watch the recording here. Download the report here.
IWSR Analysis on Alcohol Moderation Trend: is it Generational?
The moderation trend is driven mainly by health and lifestyle choices, with consumers opting to drink less alcohol and/or choosing to moderate their frequency/intensity of alcohol consumption. While it is true that legal drinking age (LDA) Gen Z and Millennials are largely driving the trend, there is clear evidence of people drinking less across older generations as well, with the current squeeze on disposable incomes playing a key role. Read more.
Register to Attend the Oregon Wine Symposium | Feb. 13 – 14
On Feb. 13 and 14, the Oregon Wine Symposium, the largest wine industry trade show and education seminar in the Northwest will unite experts from the scientific and wine business communities for one day-and-a-half at the Oregon Convention Center. Register here.
Northwest Wine Report on Sokol Blosser Adding Ingredients List to Wine Labels
Willamette Valley’s Sokol Blosser announced that it was adding an ingredients list to its wine labels. The winery is easing into listing ingredients starting with the winery’s new rosé and will continue with other wines to be released in the spring. Alex Sokol Blosser told Sean P. Sullivan “This will be a trial, (…) We do believe that ingredient labeling and nutrition data are going to be mandated by the TTB, so we want to get ahead of that. We also see that this is something that we in the industry probably need to do anyway.” Read more.
TEXSOM Awards is now accepting wine submissions. Judging will take place at the Irving Convention Center, Feb. 17 -20, 2024. Wineries do not need to have distribution in Texas to submit entries. The OWB has partnered with FedEx to support this opportunity and can cover ground shipping of your wine entries. Please contact Trade Relations Manager David DeWitt or click here for shipping details and instructions.
VinePair is Accepting Submissions for Malbecs and Red Blends | Deadline Feb. 8 and 15
For the James Suckling Oregon Report, producers are invited to submit two skus of any variety of new releases that have not yet been reviewed by JamesSuckling.com. Learn more.
Wine Spectator Advertising Opportunity | Deadline Mar. 18
Wine Spectator is offering Oregon wineries the opportunity to be featured together in its June ’24 “Oregon Wine Report Issue.” The co-op page, designed by Wine Spectator, will encourage readers to visit Oregon and buy Oregon wines. This ad and digital amplification have the potential to reach an audience of nearly 3 million readers who are high-frequency wine consumers. View conditions here.
Join the OWB Vit & Eno Research Committee | Deadline Feb. 25
OWB appoints an industry-wide Research Committee, which reviews applications and makes funding recommendations to the Board. OWB is looking for reviewers to join this Research Committee. Learn more about the criteria to join here. An orientation session for reviewers will be held via Zoom in February.
Save the Date: International Symposium on Grapevine Epidemic Diseases | May 17 -18
The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), jointly with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), will host the first “International Symposium on Grapevine Epidemic Diseases. Pierce’s Disease & Flavescence dorée” on May 17 -18 in Austin, Texas. This event will gather international academics and specialists from the viticultural sector. Information about registration fees and logistics will be published soon.
We will review OWB’s 2024-25 detailed draft budget at this public presentation. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide input and ask questions. No advance registration is required, please save this link and passcode 105927 to join the presentation.
OWB Renews Partnership with Community Benchmark | Claim Your Account
On Nov. 30 2023, Community Benchmark hosted a webinar about their DtC data dashboard and presented their new AI-powered tool designed to automate how wineries monitor and boost sales. View recording. OWB has extended its partnership with Community Benchmark for another two years. Any Oregon winery not yet registered can still claim their account for just $199 for the two-year program. Claim an account.
World of Pinot Noir | Feb. 29 – March 2
The event returns to the seaside Ritz-Carlton Bacara resort in Santa Barbara. The program includes tasting seminars, pairing dinners, and tastings showcasing more than 200 premier Pinot Noir producers from around the globe. Winery registration information and marketing opportunities are available here.
Registrations are Open for the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit | April 30 – May 1
Join the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and co-hosts from California, Washington, New York, and Oregon to learn about cutting-edge sustainable and climate-beneficial practices. Be inspired and gain ideas on how to share sustainable winegrowing stories with consumers and trade. Register at early bird prices until Feb. 29 here.
OWB Supports our industry’s Advocacy Associations in Defense of Oregon’s Craft Alcohol Beverage Industry
Following an article published in The Oregonian on Jan. 25 reporting that the Oregon Health Authority appeared to have intentionally withheld the findings of a taxpayer-funded study, the Oregon Winegrowers Association (OWA), the Oregon Wine Council (OWC), and the Oregon Beverage Alliance (OBA) expressed their position. The OBA release can be accessed here and the OWA and OWC joint press release can be accessed here. OWB stands by our advocacy associations and asks that our industry collectively support them in their efforts to defend the Oregon wine and grape growing industry. OWB will continue to work and support research to outline the strength and positive economic impact of the Oregon Wine industry.
Wine America Resources to Promote the Positive Aspects of Wine
Wine America, the national wine industry association that encourages the growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing, has launched a new resource on their website: “The Magic of Wine”. These resources aim to help all wineries and wine associations promote the positive attributes of wine. Read more.
Participate in Travel Oregon 2024 Resident Survey | Feb. 1
Oregon residents, Travel Oregon wants to hear your perspective on tourism across the state as they work to improve the lives of all Oregonians. Fill out a short, anonymous survey by Feb. 1, 2024, and be entered to win up to $1,000 in Amazon gift cards. Your valuable feedback will be used to help encourage responsible travel practices and could shape the future of tourism in your community. Take Survey.