Happy New Year to all my colleagues in the Oregon wine industry. I am honored to serve as your Oregon Wine Board Chairman for 2018.

My wife Shari and I bought our 24-acre property in 2004 and started Celestina Vineyard in 2007. We believed Southern Oregon would provide a great place to grow Italian varietals, and over the years our fruit and the wine made from it have justified our confidence. Of course, for many years I have been aware of the beauty of wines from the Willamette Valley, but since I have been on the OWB, I have had many opportunities to travel to the Gorge and Eastern Oregon, and I’ve been amazed at the power of the wines from those areas. Pinot noir may be the principal attraction on the Oregon wine tour, but we are also achieving renown for Tempranillo, Rhône white blends, Malbec, Syrah and many others. I have a great appreciation of our state’s wines, and a firm belief that this quality depends on the excellent fruit we grow in our vineyards.

As I begin my fifth year on the OWB, I also chair the Research Committee. I am very proud of the work OWB sponsors to advance our knowledge in viticulture and enology. With emerging issues like Red Blotch virus and powdery mildew resistance, this work is vital to our industry’s future. In addition, we have recently embarked on another research front, Business and Economics, with a project studying tasting room dynamics that can help everyone with that crucial aspect of our businesses. OWB Directors Jason Tosch, Kevin Chambers and J.P. Valot also spend countless hours on this committee, as well as Dr. David Beck, who co-chairs the committee and brings a lifetime of experience in the research world.

The OWB is devoting more resources than ever to the Education Committee, chaired by OWB Director Eugenia Keegan and co-chaired by outgoing Director Ellen Brittan. They have been working diligently to bring you another stimulating Oregon Wine Symposium, coming up very soon on Feb. 20-21. If you haven’t registered yet, be sure to do so soon for the Northwest’s premier industry event, featuring superb speakers in all tracks and an ever growing trade show.

OWB Chair Emeritus Steve Thomson will once again chair the Marketing Committee and International Committee, along with the able help of Directors Hilda Jones and Donna Morris on Marketing and Bob Morus on International. Bob, from Phelps Creek in the Columbia Gorge, and Donna, from Winderlea in the Dundee Hills, join us for their first terms on the OWB, and we are excited to benefit from the new perspective we receive every year from the appointees selected by the Governor after careful vetting by the Oregon Winegrowers Association’s Nominating Committee headed by Scott Shull. You can see the full slate of Directors on the OWB’s industry website.

The terms of two very important Directors expired at the end of 2017: Ellen Brittan and Doug Tunnell. Doug always brought the valuable perspective of an organic, biodynamic grower, and provided determined leadership as the OWA struggled to get the Oregon Department of Ag. to take our herbicide drift concerns seriously. Doug will continue to serve as co-chair of the OWA LUNR Committee, for which we are very grateful. Ellen Brittan excelled in leadership roles, serving in all the Executive Committee positions and as OWB’s Chairwoman during 2015. We are thrilled that Ellen will continue to serve as co-chair of the Education Committee.

Those of us on the Board are looking forward to the Oregon Wine Symposium, and hope to see you there. Besides all the seminars and the trade show, the Symposium offers a great opportunity to meet people from different parts of the state and chat with friends we don’t see often enough. Please feel free to grab any of us on the Board to share your thoughts on OWB’s performance. We want to be very effective with our mandate to spend your tax dollars wisely, and we appreciate your feedback.

John Pratt
Oregon Wine Board