Our Oregon wine industry is growing more dynamic by the year. The ceiling for Oregon wine and grape growing has expanded greatly and along with that come many new challenges. “Brand Oregon,” the entity for which the OWB was mandated by our governor to grow, develop and steward, has evolved in ways our founders would have never imagined. The Oregon wine industry has not so quietly become one of our state’s great strategic assets.
However, our markets are increasingly complex, and competition for these markets is fierce, nuanced and well-financed. The forces shaping our future will demand a sophisticated and nimble series of well-orchestrated and forward-thinking responses from our industry. Our colleagues across the Oregon wine industry will benefit from great collective insight and guidance. Our approach must change and adapt with a heightened sense of coordination internally across many new and emerging AVAs and product consortia within our state.
Many of our varieties compete favorably on the global stage with wines produced anywhere in the world, critically acclaimed for quality, image and price premium. On the other hand, with the 2017 vintage, 20% of our entire grape harvest left the state, much of it as a commodity to compete – successfully so for now – on the highly competitive grocery store shelves of America. But many of these grapes come to market as wine by players less interested in Oregon’s long term success than we are. Our best sales growth is precariously balanced between super-premium grocery pricing and high-margin but delicately-priced and limited direct sales.
Innovation, a necessity for any dynamic industry, has moved to the forefront in Oregon. One of our state’s largest wineries has built its model on alternative packaging. Other innovation designed to drive quality in the vineyard and cellar will come at the high cost of expensive research and intense manpower, and will need to be supported with success in ultra-premium and luxury price markets to be successful. Our success will demand satisfying a very broad range of markets.
International markets are expanding. Intermediation, including distribution, agency and ecommerce, will continue to disrupt. Alternative products to wine will compete for the attention of age/lifestyle-skewed wine consumers confused by so many choices. Clearly, social media, digital strategy and a large and expanding community of wine influencers will continue to impact our industry at an accelerating rate. The center of our Oregon industry will increasingly be shaped and defined at the edges.
To pull such a diverse array of regional, varietal, price and market interests together in an orchestrated fashion against an ever more challenging market landscape, much more will be demanded of OWB marketing. Successful marketing today is much more than creating sell sheets and packaging design; it must be strategic. It must be forward-thinking. And it must drive value. We need to better separate the signals from the noise and help advise our industry peers. Industry miscalculations by even a few can have negative impacts on all.
As chairman emeritus of the Oregon Wine Board and chair of its marketing and export committees, I have enjoyed six very fulfilling years on the Board. More than ever I sense that our future will demand better committee approach and involvement. We must tap the expertise that lies within our industry like never before.
With this in mind I have worked with marketing committee vice chair Donna Morris, OWB director of strategic insights & industry relations, Jess Willey, and Tom Danowski to fashion a new industry response. On Oct. 25 we convene our first “Strategic Marketing and Communications Committee” of OWB. Nine senior executives from across our industry – all with strong marketing backgrounds and CEO/GM-level experience – have accepted our challenge to help us shape a more collaborative and well-armed marketing vision for our industry. We will keep you apprised of our progress and will be seeking your input along the way as we craft a strategic foundation the industry can build on.
CEO, Cristom Vineyards
NEWS FROM THE OREGON WINEGROWERS ASSOCIATION
From Tom Danowski, CEO
With so much local media coverage surrounding wine labeling practices and protections for Oregon’s 18 AVAs, it is important to mention that the issue is getting attention in Washington, D.C., as well. The OWA continues to work closely with Oregon’s seven-member congressional delegation to reinforce the importance of both state rules and federal regulations that restrict a winery from making unsubstantiated claims about a wine’s origin.
U.S. Senate Resolution 649, co-sponsored by Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, is the most recent federal response that has resulted from our continuing conversation about the competitive threat represented by out-of-state businesses that may not be aware of, or committed to, our product integrity requirements. Additional, more targeted federal actions are also in process to protect Oregon’s geographic equities.
Also relevant to transactions with wineries outside our state: all growers are reminded that Oregon state law ORS 473.045, as enforced by the OLCC, requires reporting along with a payment of $12.50 per ton on grape sales to wineries in other states. Oregon farmers are to report all sales on this form. Column E is reserved for the required disclosure of vinifera or hybrid grapes sold out of state.
Finally, on behalf of the Rogue Valley growers who were caught off guard by late season contract cancellations, THANK YOU to the Oregon winemakers who took on hundreds of additional tons, many at full contract price. Most of the Willamette Valley wineries that acquired those grapes want to avoid the spotlight, but their actions represent the collaborative spirit Oregon’s wine community is famous for and which is reinvigorated by commitments such as were made during this critical vintage.
OREGON WINE SYMPOSIUM
Executive Track to Focus on Informed Business Decisions
Running a business requires infinite decisions, from pricing to branding, staff incentive structures to channel mix, and so much more. The 2019 Symposium’s Executive Business track guides winery and vineyard owners, GMs and other leaders – current or aspiring – to a better understanding of how these myriad decisions culminate in sustainable success for their businesses. Learn more about the 2019 Symposium’s Executive Business track.
Preliminary Call for Participation in 2019 Symposium Wine Trials
The OWB Education Committee is currently gauging interest of wineries to offer trial wines for the 2019 Symposium Experimental Wine Tasting. The format will be slightly different this year and a committee will select the trials to be featured in November. Learn more and indicate your interest.
Registration Opens Friday, Oct. 26 for Oregon Wine Trail NYC: May 2019
The OWB will be taking its Oregon Wine Trail education and tasting events to New York City in May. The registration link will be sent at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. Registration is first-come, first-served for 50 spots allocated by region. Learn more.
Register for Japan Tastings: Jan. 21-23, 2019 | Deadline: Oct. 26
Register now to join OWB in Osaka and Tokyo this January for joint tastings with the Washington State Wine Commission. If you export to Japan or are seeking an importer, consider joining us. Register here by Friday, Oct. 26.
Register for London Tastings: March 14, 2019
Register now to join OWB in London next March for joint tastings with the Washington State Wine Commission. If you export to the U.K. or are seeking an importer, consider joining us. Register here.
Register for Oregon Wine Trail Toronto: April 9, 2019
Oregon Wine Trail is going to Toronto. Join the OWB as we return to Toronto on April 9, where we will host an Oregon Wine Trail trade and consumer tasting as well as multiple master classes for the trade. Register here.
Make a Nomination for 2019 OPC International Trade Tour | Deadline: Dec. 1
Each year, the OWB hosts a group of international trade members in late June, chosen from among nominees provided by the industry. The group attends Oregon Pinot Camp and also meets with winemakers from around the state to get a complete picture of wine in Oregon. Learn more or make a nomination.
Travel Oregon’s Fall Campaign Toolkit
Travel Oregon recently launched a toolkit for its fall campaign, an extension of this spring’s “Oregon, Slightly Exaggerated” campaign. Materials for all seven regions will be rolling out over the next several weeks, and may be of interest in helping promote visitation to your region. Learn more and view the toolkit.
27th Annual Oregon Water Law Conference | Nov. 8-9
The annual Oregon Water Law Conference gathers the most active, diverse and experienced Oregon water law experts to address the issues of the day. The program will provide an update on recent legislative developments along with discussions of the key issues driving water policy. OWA members can receive a code for $100 off registration. Learn more and get OWA discount code.
2018-19 OWB-Funded Research Project Summaries Available
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Oregon Wine Board of Directors allocated a record $437,000 to funding viticulture and enology projects. The nine projects are summarized on the OWB industry website. Read the research project overviews.
2017 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report Now Available
The 2017 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report was recently released, indicating significant growth within many areas of our state’s wine industry. Read the report.
October 2018 Weather and Climate Forecast
On Oct. 4, Dr. Greg Jones of Linfield College published an updated weather and climate summary and forecast. This report looks back at September conditions, provides an updated drought watch, and forecasts conditions for October, November and December. Read the report.
CALLS FOR WINE
San Francisco International Wine Competition | Deadline: Oct. 26
The San Francisco International Wine Competition is now accepting entries into its 38th annual awards program. Judging will take place Nov. 17-19, with entries accepted through Oct. 26. Learn more.
Enobytes Seeking Oregon Syrah | Deadline: Nov. 15
Enobytes.com is seeking Oregon Syrah for its Syrah and Shiraz from Around the World report, which will publish March 2019. Wines need to be received by Nov. 15. Get submission details.
TEXSOM International Wine Awards: Free Shipping
OWB has again partnered with FedEx, which has agreed to generously sponsor the shipment of Oregon entries to the TEXSOM International Wine Awards beginning Nov. 1. Watch for more details in the coming weeks. In 2018, 31 wineries took advantage of this program, resulting in more Oregon entries and a 20% increase in award-winning Oregon wines, representing 12 AVAs and 22 varieties. Read more about this initiative.
Pour at Chemeketa’s 2018 Nouveau Release Party
The Chemeketa Wine Studies program is hosting a Nouveau Release Party on Nov. 15 from 5-7:30 p.m. Oregon wineries producing Nouveau style wines are invited to join the celebration while pouring and selling wine at this public event. Get more details.
Vinexpo New York 2019 Exhibitor Opportunities
Vinexpo New York will take place on March 4-5. The 2018 show was the largest B2B trade event focused on wine and spirits ever held in the U.S. The deadline to reserve exhibition space is Feb. 1. Get more details.
OWB 2017-18 Annual Report Released
Each year, the OWB produces an annual report, which is submitted to the State in September. The report comprises a letter from the OWB chairperson, a recap of all major activities performed during the year, a financial recap and more. Reading this report is a good way to get familiar with the OWB’s work on behalf of the industry. View the report.
Linfield Wine Lecture Series: Remembering the Early Days of Viticulture and Wine Research in Oregon | Nov. 15
Join Greg Jones as he moderates a conversation with Barney Watson and Steve Price about how these two wine-loving researchers shaped the foundation of Oregon’s viticultural and winemaking research through decades of data collection, recording, and innovative wine trials. This free event takes place Nov. 15 from 4-5 p.m. and will be followed by a reception. Get more details.
2019 Oregon Wine Industry Awards Nominations Open | Deadline: Nov. 16
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. Visit the Markeplace.