Over the next year, I’ll chair the Oregon Wine Board—thank you for the privilege. I embrace working closely with Executive Director Tom Danowski and his team in guiding the Marketing, Research and Education missions of the OWB. As a few may know, an aviation career brought me to Oregon in 1989; almost immediately after, I founded my family vineyard and later winery, Phelps Creek, in the beautiful Hood River Valley.
Let me share a 30,000 foot perspective of our industry. A lot has changed in the past 30 years. While we continue to witness an explosion of small, boutique wineries attempting to sell the majority of their high quality and premium priced product DTC, today there also exists a very significant segment of large scale operations striving to gain market share on shelves through national and international distribution—today, competition for all business models is brutal.
No longer is our industry confined largely to the Willamette Valley. Across the state justifiably proud AVAs compete for media recognition and struggle to bring a steady stream of consumers to their tasting room door. Many desire to spotlight varieties beyond Pinot noir.
As for pure growers, the backbone of our industry, an increase in demand for Oregon wines drives grape prices and ultimately the sustainable success of a vineyard. A sizable portion of Oregon-grown grapes now flow to out-of-state wineries. More than ever, the research your grape taxes fund provide winegrowers with tools and knowledge to grow higher quality and more cost effective fruit—especially in light of growing labor supply pressures.
It is clear from my vantage point—no matter how different our business models, we most effectively face these challenges together.
The Oregon Wine Board promotes all interests through marketing “Brand Oregon.” By careful design, our marketing, currently under strategic review, is non-exclusive to region or variety—historically it promotes high quality, iconic, visionary growers and winemakers committed to distinctive products and the land. Of course, the scenic beauty of our state feeds the narrative, driving a consumer’s desire to sample Oregon products, visit our state’s many scenic splendors and incorporate friendly winery experiences into their travel plans.
A focus on Brand Oregon drives increases in market share, tourism and fruit demand. It generates a sense of excitement, adventure and authenticity about Oregon wine, compelling visits to Oregon’s multiple wine trails. We leverage our unified voice through numerous awards of state and federal grants, thereby multiplying our modest resources. In short, Brand Oregon encapsulates a consumer-driven battle plan uniting the industry towards broad success across business models.
As a small producer located outside of the Willamette Valley, I fully appreciate the concerns of how statewide promotions benefit our far-flung regions. Beginning early this year the OWB’s Marketing and Communications staff will join Directors in holding regional planning summits designed to fully integrate our diverse wine regions into Brand Oregon messaging. We want to hear from you how we can best incorporate your region’s story, driving profitable growth in your area.
I look forward to leading the Board throughout this next year. The Directors of the Oregon Wine Board are here to serve you! Please reach out to any and all of us with ideas and concerns.
To a prosperous new year!
Oregon Wine Board
OREGON WINE SYMPOSIUM
Early Bird Discount Ends Wednesday, Jan. 15
Don’t miss your chance to get the deepest discount available on 2020 Oregon Wine Symposium tickets. Full Access tickets are $225 through Jan. 15, after which they will increase to $300. Register your team today!
Volunteer at the Symposium
Applications for Symposium volunteers are currently being accepted. Volunteers receive complimentary admission in exchange for working a volunteer shift. Shifts are scheduled on one day, so that you can attend all the sessions on the opposite day. A training and prep session will be held on Monday, Feb. 10.
Optimizing Quality from the Vineyard to the Bottle
Winemakers have myriad decisions to make as grapes move from the vineyard to the cellar, into fermentation and aging vessels and finally into the bottle. The Enology track at the 2020 Oregon Wine Symposium will help winemakers optimize fruit and wine quality along various decision points.
Get the Best Rates on Your Hotel Room for Symposium | Deadline: Jan. 20
When you come to Portland for Symposium in February, join us at the brand new Hyatt Regency. The hotel is just across the street from the Oregon Convention Center. Symposium attendees receive a discounted rate when booking before Monday, Jan. 20.
Enter TEXSOM International Wine Awards with Free Shipping | Deadline: Jan. 24
OWB is again partnering with FedEx to provide free Ground shipping on Oregon entries to the TEXSOM International Wine Awards. This program is running through Jan. 24.
Register for Vinexpo Hong Kong | May 26-28 | Deadline: Feb. 28
Join OWB in May at Vinexpo, the premier wine trade show in Asia. VinExpo attracts buyers and importers from Asia and around the world, and is a great opportunity for producers looking to grow their sales internationally.
Stakeholder Meeting: Provide Input on Smoke Exposure Grant Proposal | Feb. 13
Elizabeth Tomasino (OSU), Tom Collins (WSU) and Anita Oberholster (UC Davis) are collaborating on a research grant proposal to address smoke impacts on grapes and wine. Please register to join them in Portland the day after Symposium so they can get your input on issues related to wildfire smoke.
Register for SVB’s 2020 State of the Industry Webinar | Jan. 14
Silicon Valley Bank will be presenting its annual State of the Wine Industry webinar at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 14. Register to join the live videocast of a presentation and panel discussion on grape supply, on and off premise sales trends, consumer demand and more.
CALLS FOR WINE
Wine & Spirits Magazine Seeks Riesling, Zinfandel and More | Deadline: Jan. 21
The June 2020 issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine will feature domestic wines made from Riesling and Zinfandel as well as other varietal and blended red wines. The magazine will be accepting entries through Jan. 21.
Producers of Oregon Syrah are invited to submit wines for judging to Wine Press Northwest. Top-rated wines will appear in the magazine and online this spring, and those receiving an “Outstanding” rating will be invited into the publication’s 21st annual Platinum judging in October. The submission deadline is Jan. 24.
Oregon Sustainable Shopping Initiative Now in Effect
Oregon wine tasting rooms are reminded that as of Jan. 1 retailers are prohibited from providing single-use checkout bags to customers, and there are new restrictions on other checkout bags that may be provided. See this flier from Oregon.gov for more information.
The first Assemblage Symposium will be held on Jan. 14-15 at Linfield College. This event, which includes hands-on workshops, seminars, keynote addresses and networking opportunities, is focused on the advancement, education and empowerment of women and diverse communities in wine. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.