PORTLAND, OR, September 21, 2023 … If the adage is true that an Oregon vintage is defined by its September weather, then lovers of Oregon wine can rest assured bottles from the 2022 vintage will be ones to seek out. The results of the new Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report were released today by the Oregon Wine Board and the data provided by wineries and vineyards reveal the industry’s healthy growth from crop volume to international recognition and trust in the future with new plantings.
After a serious April frost, grape growers were treated to a wet spring, warm summer and a pleasant September. Second shoots created large clusters and resilience from frost damage, and volumes of fruit, especially over 2020 and 2021 created a beautiful rebound from past obstacles including COVID-induced labor shortages, heat and smoke, and pest pressures over the last few years.
The result? Near perfect growing conditions for what many winemakers described as the return to the classic Oregon vintage. Said Steven Thompson at Analemma in the Columbia Gorge AVA: “The later summer’s temperatures were moderated by the pacific maritime influence allowing sugars to develop slowly as compared to recent vintages. Harvest was once again un-inhibited by weather events as temps stayed warm throughout October. This vintage granted spectacular quantity and quality.”
The annual study, conducted by Robert Parker’s team at the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) of the University of Oregon uncovered these topline stats, which are explained more in depth below:
- Statewide wine grape production in 2022 increased 19.5% over 2021 to a record 137,065 tons. The estimated value of wine grape production in 2022 also increased 22%, or $58.7 million, to a record $330 million.
- The leading variety in acreage and production remains Pinot Noir (60% of acreage and 57% of production), and 2022 showed a 14% increase in Chardonnay plantings over 2021.
- The aggregate value of Oregon’s sales across all channels increased 13.3% to a record 5.7 million cases in a global wine category that is trending slightly negative over the past year.
- Tasting room and wine club sales continued to rebound, increasing a combined 12.6%
- Approximately 31% of grapes harvested in Oregon, or 42,639 tons, appear notto have been crushed in Oregon, and are likely going to out-of-state buyers.
Said Oregon Wine Board President Tom Danowski, “Oregon’s 2022 results highlight an extraordinary recovery from the April 2022 frost conditions along with strengthening global demand in a sluggish business environment for wine. Unexpectedly cool weather all along the west coast last spring could have put Oregon’s ’22 crop in jeopardy. Veteran viticulturalists however nursed the vines and set them up for sensational late summer growing conditions across the state, saving the vintage,” he said.
“Winemakers around the state say the young wines are maturing beautifully and will rank among the best in the past few decades.”
What’s new with 2022
The report marks the first time sustainable and organic figures and Sparkling wine figures are mentioned because Oregon a leader in sustainability and is becoming a leader in Sparkling production. Based on data provided by growers, IPRE estimates that between 35% and 40% of planted acreage is certified sustainable or organic (including but not limited to organizations like USDA Organic, Demeter Biodynamic Certification, Deep Roots Coalition, LIVE, and Regenerative Organic Certified™ and more). Based on data provided by wineries, IPRE estimates that 3% to 5% of case sales were for Sparkling wines.
Grape production and value up
Statewide wine grape production in 2022 increased 19.5% over 2021 to a record 137,065 tons. Climatologist, OWB Director, and CEO of Abacela Dr. Greg Jones explains the 2022 crop gains best: “You need to look at the data through a five-year lens. For the 2018 and 2019 vintages, production increased to 100,000 tons or more. After the dramatic nearly 30% drop seen in 2020, 2021 gave everyone a welcomed rebound to what might be considered ‘normal’ production of nearly 115,000 tons. After early frost damage that looked like it would derail the vintage, 2022 production recovered miraculously from the frost and was added to by new acreage coming online from plantings in 2020 or before.”
The estimated value of wine grape production in 2022 increased 22%, or $58.7 million. Over the last decade, production value in Oregon has increased 184%, from $116 million in 2012 to a record $330 million in 2022.
Planted acreage growth standouts by variety
While no varieties measured in this report decreased in planted acreage, the leading variety in acreage and production remains Pinot noir at 60% and 57%, respectively, with 26,611 acres planted statewide and almost 6% growth over last year. Compare that to a decade ago when 15,369 acres of Pinot noir were planted, an increase of 73% over the past decade.
The report also saw a 14% increase in Chardonnay plantings in 2022 over 2021 with 3,109 acres planted. A decade ago, the report showed 1,160 acres of Chardonnay planted. More Chardonnay plantings can support Oregon’s growing Sparkling wine production base, while at the same time Oregon is tapping into the increasing level of market demand for Chardonnay, which is the top selling white wine in the U.S.
Other notable varietal increases included 177 acres of Gamay noir plantings, which is a 28% increase from the year prior. Pinot gris were up 4%, Riesling plantings were up 6%, and Gewurztraminer held steady at 151 planted acres from year to year.
The aggregate value of Oregon’s wine sales across all channels increased 13.3% to a record 5.7 million cases in a global wine category that’s trending slightly negative over the past year, according to Nielsen. Nielsen, which provides quantifiable consumer sell-through data by cash register receipts, is showing wine sales overall were down about -6% in 2022.
2022 was the second highest jump in eight years for Oregon wine sales behind the post-COVID-19 rebound of 20.7%. Noted Danowski, “Wine buyers continue to push Oregon sales volumes up here in-state, across the country and around the world at rates faster than wine category averages. Again, we see consumers demanding quality and finding it in Oregon wines.”
Tasting room and wine club sales continued to rebound in 2022, increasing a combined 12.6%. This is partially due to wine price increases, and may also reflect the continued benefits of the “appointment” tasting room model vs. the old “walk-in” tasting room paradigm. Oregon tasting rooms have found the appointment model equates to higher average transaction levels and therefore more effective selling to guests.
Grapes going out of state
With approximately 42,639 tons or 31% of grapes harvested in Oregon appearing not to have been crushed in Oregon, they are likely being purchased by out-of-state buyers. This points demand and quality for Oregon grapes very attractive to out of state buyers, especially to neighbors in California and Washington.
Vineyards and wineries
Vineyards showed a healthy increase of 4.6% from 1,411 to 1,476 now in Oregon. 2021 showed a lesser jump of 3% in 2020 to 2021. The number of wineries across the state rose from 1,058 to 1,116, an increase of 58 or 5.4%, averaging more than a winery opening every week in Oregon. Compare that to a decade ago when there were 545 wineries in the state in 2012, an increase of 104%.
Canada continues to be Oregon’s largest export market with 45% of exports going there. The United Kingdom is also a significant consumer of Oregon wine; In 2017, the U.K. consumed 10,047 cases of Oregon wine, as compared to 6,953 in 2016, a jump of 31%. In 2022, British consumers bought 15,479 cases of Oregon wine which is a 54% increase in five years, showing Oregon’s marketing and events in the U.K continue to pay off.
For vineyard and winery reports dating back to 1981, please visit industry.oregonwine.org.
About the Oregon Wine Board
The Oregon Wine Board is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. Visit oregonwine.org.
Sarah Murdoch, Oregon Wine Board Interim Director of Communications