It seems like years, not months since our annual Oregon Wine Symposium. The educational sessions and vendor displays become a highly anticipated ritual; a rite ushering out the post-harvest, winter slumber. To me though, it’s the sense of community—seeing each other and celebrating our collective commitment to the wine industry—that excites me the most. Making the pilgrimage for over 30 years, I remember the early days at Oregon State, then growth demanded we transition to the Hilton in Eugene and finally now, we’ve settled into expansive space at Oregon Convention Center. Every move generated in response to our growing needs.
COVID-19 causes us to reinvent the Symposium again in 2021. On the educational and research side, anticipate virtual gatherings. Many of us have become accustomed to Zoom connections. It’s clear our staff Master of Wine Bree Stock, along with the Education Committee, can assemble a first rate agenda for OWS 2021. A virtual program grants tremendous opportunity for guest panelists and high level presentations. That said, it is the sense of community that demands creativity—we are open to your ideas.
The pandemic slammed our industry just following a very successful Oregon Wine Trail event in San Francisco and an OWB Board meeting that followed on March 10-11. At that time your Board and staff pondered critical issues racing towards us, thinking how marketing plans might need to pivot. Immediately we envisioned how financial rescue programs being discussed in Washington, D.C., could be critical to survival for both vineyards and wineries. As the outlines of the EIDL and PPP programs came into focus, a series of CARES Act webinars were established under the leadership of OWB Director and Treasurer Donna Morris. I hope you found the sessions helpful. We envision another session when outlines of PPP loan forgiveness become published and we can add further clarity.
In terms of marketing Kai McMurtry and Christina DeArment are actively making adjustments to programs slated immediately and into the future. As an example, Oregon Wine Month this May became Oregon [Inside] Wine Month. On the international stage, following a highly acclaimed Mexico City event and the initial rollout of a new wine trade certification program in Asia in February, our complete calendar largely rotated to 2021. In many cases there remains room for new brands to join in the international programs. Just drop myself or Marie Chambers, our VP of operations & finance, a note and we will find a path for your participation.
This crisis will eventually pass, and we need to simultaneously look to the future. Soon you will learn about OWB’s long range strategic planning as we hold a series of meetings with individual regional boards. Jess Willey coordinates the virtual meetings throughout the state as we circleback to the regions, describe what we heard from you earlier, and validate the inclusion of the right needs into the OWB Strategic Plan. Ultimately our goal is to set the five year course for Oregon Wine. In another important duty, Jess manages the COVID-19 Toolkit on OWB’s industry website. This is a great go-to resource, gathering important assistance and guidance in one place—use it! In this time of extreme business, personnel and personal stress, please find the time to give us additional long range feedback. These regional meetings are virtual—generally on Zoom. The next stops on our virtual tour include the Umpqua and Rogue valleys.
Sally Murdoch, the OWB’s communications manager, wrangles weekly all-industry Zoom meetings for coordination and problem identification between regions. After our first session someone asked if anyone took notes. Sally piped in, “Oh yeah, I have 24 pages!” Her main role is to continue to field mediainquiries, providing journalists with ideas that highlight the ways in which winemakers are innovating in today’s environment. As we march towards reopening tasting rooms, Sally will craft a positive and inviting message.
I’m extremely proud of how all of the OWB staff, its officers and your Board surged toward this challenge. They are doing extraordinary work in extremely challenging times. In the same vein, I hope you, your family and employees are staying safe, sane and solvent. I look forward to the time when we can again enjoy a closer sense of community and lift a glass of wine.
Ensure Your Tasting Room Profile is Accurate for Reopening
Remember to update your information on visit.oregonwine.org to reflect any changes you’ll be making when you reopen. Sign in to update hours or appointment status or to add any notes for visitors about your tasting opportunities and procedures. See the industry toolkit for details on how to access your profile and make edits.
Introducing Oregon Vine Perks
OWB is excited to announce the launch of Oregon Vine Perks, a new consumer loyalty program aimed at inspiring sales of Oregon wine now and visitation once tasting rooms reopen and people start traveling again. Every winery in Oregon is eligible to be featured in the program free of charge. Visit the Oregon Vine Perks toolkit to learn more and enroll.
Oregon Wine Month Toolkit Update
We’re almost halfway through Oregon Wine Month. The online toolkit has been updated with new messaging and graphics to better meet marketplace realities brought on by COVID-19.
Share Your Virtual Tasting Events
Please add your virtual events to the OWB’s consumer calendar. On your social channels, use #oregoninside and tag us at @oregonwineboard. We are actively sharing opportunities for consumers to stay connected with your businesses during this shutdown.
Oregon Wins Big at TEXSOM International Wine Awards
The Oregon wine industry made its mark among preeminent wine influencers this year at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards. Many wineries took advantage of the OWB’s complimentary shipping program, resulting in a 140% increase in gold medal award-winning Oregon wines.
Trade & Industry Members Complete Learn Oregon Course
OWB-Sponsored Research Update: The Role of the Protein ARF4 in the Timing of Grape Ripening
Dr. Laurent Deluc, associate professor of grape genomics at OSU and OWRI, has prepared an update about research he is leading to understand the role of an auxin-related protein (ARF4) on the timing of ripening initiation in grape berries.
COVID-19 Sales Tracker: Retail, Online and DTC Channels
Nielsen has been publishing a robust weekly report on wine, beer and spirits sales trends seen at brick & mortar retailers, online merchants and through direct sales channels, with even some on-premise insights. A summary of the information most relevant to the Oregon wine industry can be found on our industry site.
VingDirect Online DTC Courses Offered at Discount for Oregon Wine Industry through May 30
As the direct sales landscape is shifting, OWB is committed to providing quality DTC education opportunities. We are sponsoring access to six courses from VingDirect, enabling all members of the Oregon wine industry to access these courses, normally priced between $199 and $399, for only $25 each. Courses include Guest Experience Bootcamp, Navigating Through a Crisis and more.
Online Course: Outbound Phone Sales Mastery | Starts May 19
Another offering of the WISE Academy online course Online Phone Sales Masterystarts May 19. This three-part course will help increase your odds of success by teaching your team the psychology of sales, how to craft re-usable scripts, and how to overcome the obstacles to closing sales. Special COVID-19 pricing of $200 per registrant is on offer, and you can contact WISE Academy if you cannot afford to pay at this time.
Online Course: Digital Mastery | Starts May 28
WISE Academy introduces a new online course, Digital Mastery, which starts May 28. The three parts—Email Marketing, Social Media, and Websites in the Year 2020—can be taken separately for $99 each or as a package for $200. Contact WISE Academy if you cannot afford to pay at this time.
SVB Presents State of the Wine Industry | May 21
Join Rob McMillan and a slate of wine industry experts on May 21 at 9 a.m. for a discussion on the State of the Wine Industry. The panel will cover a variety of topics facing our industry at present including channel shifting, the grape market, and using data to expand sales opportunities.
Online Workshop: Getting Started with Facebook Ads | June 3
MTO Agency is offering affordable access to its monthly online workshops. Sign up for a $49/month membership using code MTOFORALL to access workshops designed to help wine businesses develop and optimize social media and e-commerce strategies. This includes the upcoming June 3 workshop, Getting Started with Facebook Ads.
8-Part Online Course: The Business of Wine | $100 for Profit Planner Users
OWB partner Wine Business Education offers current Profit Planner users a discount code to access The Business of Wine for only $100 (a $399 savings). This eight-lesson on-demand course is taught by Tim Hanni MW and covers the wine supply and value chain from the vineyard to the consumer point of purchase.
Webinar Series: Using Technology to Connect with Customers
OWB partner Bottlebooks is holding a series of free webinars on technologies that wineries can use to connect with customers. Topics include holding online tastings, creating videos, and connecting with retailers.
CALLS FOR WINE
Wine & Spirits Seeking Oregon Chardonnay | Deadline: June 5
Wine & Spirits Magazine will feature Chardonnay in its October edition and is accepting samples now through June 5. Be advised that there are new submission protocols in place due to COVID-19.
Matching Marketing Grants Available to Oregon Businesses
The Oregonian | OregonLive and Pamplin Media are both offering matching marketing dollars up to $2.5 million and $1 million respectively to local businesses impacted by COVID-19. Applications are being accepted now.
Travel Oregon Announces COVID-19 Emergency Response Grant Program | Deadline: May 15
To support entities that have a direct tie to driving overnight visitation, such as lodging properties and tour operators, Travel Oregon has allocated $800,000 to a COVID-19 Emergency Response Grant Program. Applicant and project eligibility are quite specific and applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15.
Latest Oregon Wine Country License Plates Grant Awards Announced
Travel Oregon announced April 22 that eight projects supporting the advancement of culinary tourism in Oregon have been selected to receive funding through the Wine Country License Plates matching grant program.
Grant recipients include Rogue Valley Vintners, Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association, Willamette Valley Wineries Association and the Oregon Wine Board, in addition to four tourism entities.
Wine Advocate Releases Oregon Report for 2017 Vintage
The highly anticipated Oregon Report for the 2017 vintage was published in The Wine Advocate April 23. We’ve put together a recap of the highlights from the review, and subscribers to The Wine Advocate can log in to read the article and view all scores.
Charity for Sommeliers in Crisis
Consider supporting the United Sommelier Foundation, a charity started to support sommeliers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Read a letter written by United Sommelier Foundation board member and sommelier Jon McDaniel to learn more.
Oregon Wine Industry Calendar
As a reminder, the OWB’s industry website hosts a calendar with entries that include industry-facing events as well as events with significant industry participation. Consult it when scheduling or rescheduling events to avoid conflicts, and don’t forget to post entries as well. Links to post to both the industry calendar and the OWB’s consumer-facing calendar can be found here.