Despite challenges in the international marketing efforts of the OWB during 2020, Oregon saw its largest annual growth in export sales at 24% over 2019. With those same planning challenges continuing in 2021, primarily due to the pandemic, our OWB staff has had to continually be agile and responsive with postponements and cancellations to the event calendar the International Committee debated and confirmed by consensus at our April and June meetings. The good news is that our unused federal grant funding from prior years has been rolled forward and is still available to us. It’s important to understand that international activities planned and hosted by the OWB are almost entirely funded by federal and state grants and the wineries participating in the events. The expertise held by the OWB staff in securing grants makes our robust programming possible. Often we collaborate with Washington State wineries through the Northwest Wine Coalition—joining together historically leveraged our grant applications.
We head into 2022 with optimism that we can successfully execute our updated calendar of events. There is plenty of room for new players in international activities. Even for small production wineries, international sales can provide balance to your strategic sales plan. Our entire wine community benefits from the recognition our international presence brings to Oregon Wine—trade publications and critics take Oregon Wine more seriously as a world-class wine region when we sell wine across the globe.
Reach out to myself or International Committee Vice-Chairman Steve Thomson to discuss in detail opportunities and how your brand can slide into participation.
International Marketing Committee Chair
It has been a busy fall for the OWB International Marketing calendar as we have been able to host a handful of in-market events while working hard at event planning for the second half of our 2021-22 fiscal year. Below is an update on our recently hosted international events and the planning details for the rest of the year.
Mexico Grand Tastings and Masterclasses
OWB hosted a series of events in Mexico in September which were deemed a success with great turnout while still obeying all safety protocols to keep all attendees safe while still being able to meet in-person for the first time in over a year.
If you are interested in reading the event summary prepared by our partners in Mexico, you can find that here.
Additionally, Oregon and Washington presented master classes in Playa del Carman, Tulum, and Cancun. To read a summary of these events, please follow the link here.
Northwest Wine Expeditions Canada
Also, in September, we were finally able to host the first-ever Northwest Wine Expeditions in Canada. Over two weeks, these events saw wineries and their representatives connecting with key trade, media, and agencies in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Unfortunately, the Calgary portion of the tour was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 at the time. Overall the events were a success and heralded in the market for being the first region to host an extensive tasting safely and effectively. The trade was thrilled to be able to be together, yet distanced, tasting wines again. We received some attendee suggestions for improvement, but the feedback was generally positive with an excellent turnout (110 for Montreal, 170 for Toronto, and 88 for Vancouver). There are at least seven wineries in talks to secure representation in one of the three markets. Click here for the complete report.
Upcoming Programming and 2022 Schedule
OWB has been working with its partners and other cooperators to finalize the schedule for the remaining fiscal year based on the feedback given to us by the OWB International Marketing Committee. It has not been easy to confirm plans with the pandemic’s influence, but we can share many confirmed dates and details below. Please note that while we are almost certain these are the final dates, there is still a slight possibility that dates could change. Please see the calendar below, along with a description of the planned programming. When in-person winery participation is not required, it means that that the programming is designed so that wineries do not need to travel to participate.
Calgary programming (due to postponement) – Week of November 29 (no winery participation)
Copenhagen masterclass and other programming – February 7 (no winery participation – with WSW) Register here if you would like to provide wines for this event
Stockholm masterclass and monopoly engagement – February 9 (no winery participation – with WSW) Register here if you would like to provide wine for this event
Japan Importer Tasting – February 21 (no winery participation – with WSW) – Register here to participate through your importer
London Sommelier Inbound (GBI) – Week of March 7 (with WSW, CWI) (to be confirmed) – Please get in touch with Margaret to submit your interest in participating in this tour (specific criteria apply, and this is not a guarantee)
Stockholm Tasting Event – March 24 (Oregon only) – Register here if you would like to participate
Wine from the Edge Seminar with New Zealand (Toronto) (no winery participation, Oregon only)
Mexico Tastings –
Mexico City – April 25 – Register here if you would like to participate
Cabo San Lucas – April 27 – Register here if you would like to participate
May 17 (Seoul) – Register here to participate in Korea
May 19 (Tokyo) – Register here if you would like to join for Tokyo
Korea NW Wine Certification Level 2
NW Wine Expeditions –
June 6 (Toronto with WSW) – Register here for Toronto
June 8 (Montreal with WSW) – Register here for Montreal
June 13 (Calgary with WSW) – Register here for Calgary
June 15 (Vancouver with WSW) – Register here for Vancouver
Summer Tour and OPC – June 26-28 (OPC) – June 23 – 29 (Tour) – Please get in touch with Margaret if you are interested in participating in the tour and are not a participating OPC winery
International Contractor Update
OWB works with several contractors in our key markets throughout the year. As we have mentioned before, we have partnered with a PR agency called LOTUS in the UK. One of the core projects with LOTUS is building an Oregon wine content hub for the UK media and consumer audiences. We intend this site to be a rich source of information to help customers learn more about Oregon wineries and where to purchase our products, as well as essential press releases and other helpful winery details. We want to add profiles of Oregon wineries in the market on this content hub and have created a short form to fill out if you are interested in being featured, which you can find here. The LOTUS team is in contact with the Oregon wine importers in the market and is reaching out with different media and retail opportunities. If you would like to be on their coverage in the UK, please get in touch with Margaret.
Additionally, we are working on compiling a list of wineries actively seeking representation in the market. If you are one of those wineries, please contact Margaret to be added to the database. We are in the process of planning many other exciting consumer promotions and will keep you updated as they come about.
Sweden and Denmark
We are happy to announce that the Northwest Wine Coalition has finished its RFP process for seeking new representation in Denmark and Copenhagen and has appointed Ehrenberg Sorensen as our new partners for both markets. Click here if you would like to read more about them. They come highly recommended with many years of experience in the food and wine sector, and we are excited to work with them to grow our presence in both of these critical markets for Oregon and Washington.
Oregon and Washington are at the interview stage in the RFP for a new partner in Japan. We are aiming to have our decision made by the middle of November. The candidates have been strong so far, so we are excited about refreshing our prospects in the market with a new partner. We will share this new partnership as soon as one is selected.
As most of you know, OPC has announced its return in 2022. This is excellent news and means that we can plan to host our International Summer Tour in conjunction with OPC. We have reached out to the campers confirmed for 2020 but still have a few spots to fill. We want to collect new nominees for 2022 since there will be more strict regulations, and some travel issues may also come from certain countries. Please see the qualifications and nominationform here. If you submitted a nomination in 2020, please do so again with an update on the status of your nominee. The full roster of international attendees and schedule for the tour will be shared once finalized.
The OPC winery selection process, managed by WVWA, is underway, and we encourage exporting wineries to apply. The deadline is November 17. Click here to view more details about participating and here to start the application process. Again, applications are due by 5 pm on November 17.
As of now, Prowein will be going forward in 2022 on March 27-29. There will be many protocols and restrictions that are in constant flux. If you would like to read the current rules, you can do so here. Additionally, they have changed our booth location, which will require us to rebuild most of it as our space is different now. The area will be long and narrow and detached from Washington. If you want to see the new layout, you can do so here, and Oregon is 12/F50 with Washington being 12/D50. This arrangement, along with the strict distancing measures, will make it impossible to have all participating wineries in the booth simultaneously. For those of you who registered for the 2020 show and are still interested in participating in 2022, we will be setting up a call to discuss the best way to manage these protocols and the best way to design our booth. We have been working very closely with our booth designers to salvage as much as we can from our former booth, but it will look very different in 2022. When we have more information, we will be sure to pass it along.
As always, OWB must submit success stories to USDA to show that our programming results in direct sales for our wineries. We know that the past year has not been an easy one for international sales, but if you have any success stories from this year due to any of our programming, please fill out this form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. These stories are essential to us continuing to be funded at the same level and to ensure that we can continue our programming throughout the world. The template to submit your success stories is available here.