OREGON WINE FROM 30,000 FEET
Letter from 2020 OWB Chairman Bob Morus
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