Supporting Brand Equity in enhancing the reputation of Oregon Wine
Supporting Wine Tourism through Market Expansion with writers from all over the globe invited to experience Oregon
OWB supported excursions for 150+ guests in Eugene, Oregon before and after the three-day Wine Media Conference, the bulk of whom were writers. The conference, which began Thursday afternoon August 5th and ran through Saturday, August 7th 2021, was planned for 2020, however was postponed to 2019 due to COVID restrictions in place by Executive Order for public gathering. The WMC and the tastings and topics were well attended and well-conceived. OWB’s specific roles with the WMC included:
- Presenting numerous topics at the beginning of the conference writers could explore and write about.
- Underwriting the conference costs of 6 excursions that went from Eugene and Portland to winemaking regions of the state, including a deeper dive into the South Willamette Valley. OWB also granted $1,000 to each region for food and transportation.
- Helping ideate stops with more than 35+ winery visits with many more tastings
- Attending the conference and meeting numerous writers new to our state and nurturing relationships now and thereafter
- Write and send talking points to each excursion host. Partner Travel Lane County/Eugene Cascades for an additional set of points
- Stationed PR people at each excursion to answer all media questions and seed ideas to write about
- Taking two writers on a subsequent media tour to the Umpqua Valley to taste through 5 more wineries with winemakers: Melrose, Brandborg, Lexeme, HillCrest and Paul O’Brien.
|Umpqua Valley, August 2-4 Tour itinerary|
|Rogue Valley, August 2-4 Tour itinerary|
|Ribbon Ridge, August 3-5 Tour itinerary|
|Mt Hood and Columbia Gorge, August 8-9 Tour itinerary|
|South Willamette Valley, August 8 Tour itinerary|
|Yamhill Carlton, August 8 Tour itinerary|
At the close of the conference, we received the contact info for 93 guests.
- Hashtag of #wmc2021 used 1000+ times on Instagram
- Gathering articles and social media mentions
Quotes and Accolades:
From Allison Keeney, Travel Oregon:
“The Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association put together a unique, informative and inspiring itinerary of the Umpqua Valley wine region. Media were very engaged and actively sharing their experiences on social media throughout the tour. Cheers to a job well done!”
From Meg Trendler, Eugene Cascades:
“I just wanted to send a quick note to say a big THANK YOU for all you did to make the Wine Media Conference, and especially your support for the Sunday Excursion, a success. I was sorry to miss the South Willamette Excursion (was way out of cell range at a reunion) and kept thinking about it all day. Stephen said, that minus a few little details, all went according to plan and folks enjoyed their tour.”
From Jenny Ulum, King Estate:
“I have to tell you I don’t think it would have been a successful conference without your involvement and that of OWB and Travel Lane County. Thank you so much. It was good to see you there!”
From Cheers Magazine:
“I felt like I was in heaven in the South Willamette Valley”
From Kayt Mathers, on behalf of Yamhill-Carlton AVA:
One attendee told me that she had been to 40 countries around the world, visiting their wine regions, and had never experienced the kind of friendliness she experienced in Yamhill-Carlton on our tour.
From Catherine O’Brien, Pursuing Pinot:
Thank you for all you did for our group during the Wine Media Conference excursion to the Rogue Valley. Despite the heat, it was all wonderful. It is such a beautiful area and we learned so much. My daughter and I look forward to a return trip…
Individual regional recaps:
Recap from Yamhill Carlton:
Ken Wright at Ken Wright Cellars gave a brilliant overview of the Willamette Valley’s geology. He talked about the many events that took place over millions of years to form the soils we see in Yamhill-Carlton, the Dundee Hills, Laurelwood, etc. He also explained vine physiology in a way that clicked for so many attendees. The team at Ken Wright set up a beautiful outdoor seating arrangement, greeted us with Chardonnay and pastries from Carlton Bakery, and then proceeded to share 5 Pinot Noirs that reflected the sense of place Ken explained so beautifully. Take-away: Always budget more time for Ken Wright Cellars.
The food at Abbey Road Farm was incredible. I had several attendees tell me it was the best meal they’d had in years.
Recap from Columbia Gorge:
The tour went off largely without a hitch and the hosts and guests seemed quite pleased.
The tour began with Timberline Lodge as our “hook” to capture interest. The day was magnificent. The plan was for three Columbia Gorge producers to present their sparking wines to the guests along with some simple nibbles. Timberline threw us a complication when they decided staffing challenges would not even permit them to erect a table, much less cater the gathering.
We had a wonderful time, but I included salmon in the dinner specifically to accommodate the dietary restrictions. Salmon at the end of a week functions runs the risk of playing second fiddle to an earlier meal, like a Native American salmon bbq.
Would we do this event again—certainly.
Recap from So Willamette Valley:
I think we all agree that blending locations or activities with wine is a huge highlight. Overall, I think the Covered Bridge was a great venue. We had originally hoped for the Dorena Bridge, so there are options there.
Here are some other ideas that Travel Lane County and I had:
– Tasting inside of Hayward Field
– Tasting at Hendricks Park
– Tasting at Cascades Raptor Center
I think having two days in the South Willamette would be very beneficial:
Junction City/Monroe area / dinner with urban wineries
“Lorane Hills” area (King, Iris, Silvan, Sweet Cheeks)
Civic winery would make for a great urban venue.
I think it would be best to have 1 or 2 people as the “main contact” for the wineries participating to avoid the unnecessary confusion and mixed expectations.
I think it would be a good idea to send “best practices” to wineries who perhaps don’t talk to or host media often. The wineries who provide this feedback are almost always very small wineries who wear too many hats and don’t take the time to learn about the importance of media or take the time to learn how to best talk about their winery/wines/vineyards/etc. Overall, I think everyone who participated in this did great – there is just room for improvement and education.
Recap from Umpqua Valley:
We certainly enjoyed the group that toured the Umpqua Valley AVA August 3 & 4th. You received the quote from Allison Keeney from Travel Oregon already. We enjoyed her company and we were pleased that she joined us. Here is a quote from an attendee from Augusta Georgia:
“Thank you so much for your hospitality. You and everyone else on the Umpqua Valley team were very kind and generous. I especially appreciate your kindness in picking me up from the airport on Tuesday morning after so many delays and changes to my travel plans. Thanks for getting me to the wineries so quickly. I have posted a few tweets and there will be a few more.
When I get home, I plan to post a piece about each winery on my blog. Whoever picked out the wineries did a great job. Each was unique and interesting, and each made good wines.”
Recap from Ribbon Ridge:
Highlights and places you toured that are not to be missed for tours going forward: The Allison Inn and Spa and the Jory restaurant. Ribbon Ridge wineries for great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Trisaetum for Riesling lovers, Styring for Sparkling wines, Domaine Divio for interesting Burgundian blends and Utopia for great wine and fun and games, bocce ball and corn hole and picnicking.
Any learnings from your excursion? We need to educate the writers about and promote the nested AVA’s of the Willamette Valley much more
Recap from the Rogue Valley:
The tour included the following winery/vineyard stops and all were excellent:
- Del Rio Vineyards
- Tasting Reception sponsored by RVV at Ashland Springs Resort – included food pairings with 10 RVV winery’s/wines from Larks Restaurant, Rogue Creamery and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Makers.
- Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden – tour and tasting lunch
- Red Lily Vineyards – quick stop off for a tasting on the shore of the Applegate River
- Plaisance Ranch – tasting of RV varietals native to 3 regions – Spain, Bordeaux and Rhone
- Troon Vineyards – biodynamic vineyard tour and dinner
- Weisinger Family Winery – vineyard tour, terroir educational session and tasting
- 2 Hawk Vineyards and Winery – gravity flow winery tour a tasting lunch
Early press results or quotes/accolades from writers:
Early blog post published 8/18/21: Biodynamic Farming in the Southern Rogue Valley « Pursuing Pinot
Here are IG posts from all attendees who posted on IG:
Any learnings from your excursion?
Bringing the wineries and local provisions to the writers by hosting a classy but casual evening with wine and small bite pairings is a big win – as is interacting with the winemakers and purveyors and allowing time for questions and conversation.
Unexpected time-filling stops can be a great way to surprise and delight
Even with smoke in the air, we were able to focus on the wines, winemaking practices, terroir; and speaking openly about the smoke, when it’s a threat to the grapes and not. It’s part of life in Oregon, but because of that, our growers and winemakers are innovative and know how to manage it.
Longer winery visits with food pairings (lunch/dinner) really make for a “writable’ opportunity and make for happier writers; however, making the day too long is something that needs to be managed.
Questions please contact:
Sarah (Sally) Murdoch (she/her)
Director of Communications
o: 503.967.8978 x1