Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Future of Oregon Wine: Ripe for Success

Is it possible to gather 1300 wine lovers for two days of Enology, Viticulture and Business lectures, not simply to drink wine? To the shock and awe of many, the answer is yes. The Oregon Wine Industry Symposium took place February 21 -22 in Portland, essentially a State of the Industry address. Do the words “symposium” and “breakout session” send you running, or clicking over to check your Facebook page? Stay with us, and instead, prepare for metallic pom poms and megaphones. Those who appreciate Oregon wine unite in a collective holler - “Go Team!”

We know why we love them, but how are Oregon wines seen through the eyes of the world? Josh Raynolds (Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar) considers Oregon a top three worldwide wine region, alongside Napa and Sonoma. Metallic pom poms anyone? With a full spectrum of global experience, Josh believes Oregon has the strongest sense of community and enthusiasm among wine producers. That enthusiasm has cultivated another key to Oregon’s success: innovation, the pioneer spirit. Wine writer and consultant Doug Frost described how Oregon’s focus on clone and soil type has pushed it forward, with other wine regions following suit. An excellent point was made about Oregon’s vintage variation, particularly the recent past: spread the gospel of appreciating the nuances of vintage variation, in lieu of pegging a particular vintage as good or evil.

So the How does the Oregon wine Industry see itself? In a very positive light, thank you very much. Sam Tannahill (A to Z Wineworks) summarized using these descriptors - pioneers, artisan, sustainable, family owned, playing above its weight class, makers of long lived and balanced wines. Sam also highlighted potential growth areas. More diversity, by emphasizing grapes besides Pinot Noir, is significant in retaining a good piece of the sales pie.

Newly unveiled Oregon Wine logo

Which wine consumers are increasingly contributing to wine sales? The Millennials - people currently in the 21- 34 age range. They are rapidly becoming core wine consumers. Wineries should take note. The Millennials are coming, and they are armed with smartphones. Rick Bakas (Bakas Media) sees mobile phones on track to replace PCs in the near future. He encourages wineries to wake up and realize social media marketing is “no longer an option; it’s an expectation.” He tells wineries, at a minimum, there is a need to create a mobile landing page to “close the gap between the emotion of a real time experience and your brand.”

Technology meets the pioneer spirit. We will continue to see how the wine community marries these two different but necessary aspects. The Oregon Wine Board, led by Executive Director, Tom Danowski, brought many professionals in the industry together to take a look at Oregon’s wine past, present and future – and the future is looking very bright.


I really like the logo. Glad I survived reading "symposium" and "breakout session" to see it.

Jameson, your perseverance was rewarded!

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