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Monday, February 27, 2012

Vintage South - Southern Oregon Pivotal to Oregon WIne Industry

In case you missed Saturday's Mail Tribune front-page story Vintage South by Janet Eastman, here is your second chance to read about Southern Oregon's progression in the Oregon wine industry after last week's Oregon Wine Industry Symposium.

Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
 Southern Oregon Will Play Pivotal Role in Oregon's Branding

A few of my favorite points:
  • Regions that rely on one wine can suffer when that grape goes out of favor. "There is a folly to hitching your wagon to one varietal," said Martin, who owns Troon Vineyard in Grants Pass and sells zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah, viognier, sauvignon blanc and blended wines.
  • "Southern Oregon is our insurance policy," said Joe Dobbes, one of the state's larger producers with Dobbes Family Estate wines and the lower-cost Wine by Joe.
  • "The quality of the grapes has improved over time," Dobbes said. "They are planting the right grapes and clones in the right spots. It takes time to figure that out."
  • "It was the best conference I've been to in the industry," said Christine Collier, a former Willamette Valley Vineyards employee who now works for Troon and bottles tempranillo under her own label, God King Slave. "It felt so collaborative and 'brand Oregon,' instead of 'brand Willamette Valley.' "
  • Speaker Rob McMillan, founder of Silicon Valley Bank's wine division, predicts a 7 to 11 percent growth in the fine wine category across the nation and said that Oregon is getting back in balance between supply and demand. Kurt Lotspeich of Trium wines in Talent said it was the most positive report he's heard in five years.
  • Southern Oregon University climatologist Greg Jones gave a presentation on last year's tough harvest and his forecast that this will be a "recovery" year with a warmer summer. Afterward, he was standing in the middle of the convention hall amid a sea of 140 vendors.
  • SOWA's Martin said that direct-to-consumer sales have increased 50 percent in Oregon. "That's impressive," he said, "but there is a limit to that. It won't keep growing at that rate. So we have to go on the road and take the conversation to the next step, that we make great pinot noir, but also other varietals."
  • Sam Tannahill of A to Z Wineworks in Dundee, who buys sangiovese from Del Rio Vineyards as well as pinot noir and pinot gris from the Moores and Aguila Vineyard, spoke at Wednesday's general session called Oregon Wine in the Eyes of the World. "People like diversity," he told the audience. "They don't want to drink pinot noir every day of the week. If they like the wines of Oregon and they don't feel like a pinot noir, they will try a syrah, pinot gris or chardonnay."


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