Dear Friends, With historic announcements coming almost every day about new virus-related social practices and policy actions, the Oregon Wine Board managers and Directors have been focused on ways in which we can offer the most useful advice and support. The game changed quickly and dramatically yesterday when our Governor reversed an earlier position and restricted Oregon restaurants and bars—including winery tasting room operations—to take-out and delivery business for at least the next four weeks. In response to that news and earlier developments, the OWB has developed a comprehensive consolidation of resources here in the COVID-19 Oregon Wine Industry Toolkit. In this current climate of caution, the Oregon wine industry’s longstanding reputation for collaborative action and mutual support is an irreplaceable and treasured asset. In that spirit, here are a few items to note and other highlights to look for in the kit:

  • With many wineries moving into the bottling phase of their production cycle but potentially finding themselves short-handed, please post work opportunities on the OWB’s Marketplace. Beyond bottling line staffing, if you hear of other job opportunities, use the Marketplace to announce them to local industry colleagues who may face reduced hours or short-term layoffs.
  • Wineries and grape growers can always use the OWB’s industry Facebook group to share news and other ideas for weathering this difficult time.
  • The disruptions to tasting rooms offer the chance to invest in, and enrich, each company’s human capital and to get in position for the inevitable recovery. One Board member reminded us of this quote from former Chicago Mayor and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” See the toolkit for specific suggestions to utilize new and existing resources to enhance skills and build new competencies within your team.
  • Since the communities in which we do business are so essential to our collective success, the current circumstances might allow winery or vineyard employees to volunteer at a local food pantry or even give blood to those banks that are getting dangerously short on supply.
  • Finally, as we adapt our OWB media relations strategy to a new business climate, we are anxious to publicize the positive steps the industry is taking proactively. Let us know what you’re doing that might interest the media. Send a note to Sally Murdoch at the OWB with details on the ways in which your business is responding. We’ll put them together and dish them up to writers eager to highlight the ingenuity, creativity and collaborative nature of Oregon’s winemakers and growers and how they are supporting neighbors, suppliers and customers while at the same time building a foundation for recovery.

We invite and welcome your input on the toolkit and on other information or resources the Oregon Wine Board ought to consider adding to it as we join with you in plotting the path forward. Tom Danowski President Oregon Wine Board

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