I wanted to take time away from my professional assignment deadlines to share with you some takeaways from both events.
2018 Oregon Wine Symposium
This annual trade event, organized by the Oregon Wine Board, offers Oregon wine industry professionals an opportunity to “Learn. Connect. Grow.”
Date+ Venue: Oregon Convention Center in Portland on February 20 & 21, 2018.
- Business is Booming: The Oregon wine industry leads other states in economic growth. Economic impact rose to $5.76 billion in 2016, representing a 72% increase since the last study prepared by Full Glass Research for the Oregon Wine Board in 2013.
- Regional Value: It’s good to be Oregon pinot noir. But it’s even better to be Willamette Valley pinot noir. Look for a move towards ‘Willamette Valley’ conjunctive labeling on sub-appellation wines (similar to Sonoma’s ‘Sonoma County’ labels on every bottle of wine made in Sonoma County), a move to ensure regional quality and aggregate value.
- Nested AVA’s: Oregon still awaits consideration by TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) of four AVA’s: Laurelwood (within Chehalem Mountain AVA), Mount Pisgah in Polk County, Tualatin Hills (adjacent Chehalem Mountain AVA and proposed Laurelwood AVA), and Van Duzer Corridor. While considered ‘nested AVA’s,’ (smaller AVA’s located within larger ones), these AVA’s must each exhibit what the TTB refers to as “distinguishing viticultural features,” such as soil, climate, elevation, geology, or physical features. No date yet for approval, but similar applications in California took more than seven years.
2018 Oregon Chardonnay Celebration:
Six amazing wine makers took the stage to talk chardonnay with a sold-out audience moderated by Patrick Comisky of Wines & Spirits Magazine.
Date + Venue: Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg, Oregon on Saturday, February 24, 2018.
Monikered “The Style Council,” panel members included Josh Bergstrom of Bergstrom Wines, Jason Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards, Anna Matziner of Matzinger Davies Wine Company, John Paul of Cameron, Wynne Peterson-Nedry of CHEHALEM, and Thomas Savre of Lingua Franca.
- Intentionality: What makes Oregon chardonnay unique? No one’s producing it to make money. Instead, Oregon wine makers chase an ephemeral ‘holy grail’ of taste, texture, and terroir not unlike their quest for pinot noir.
- Experimentation: Oregon wine makers are willing to try new things, make mistakes, and think outside the box in order to create wines of regional purity and expression.
- Collaboration: Thomas Savre of Lingua Franca sums it up best, “You don’t learn anything if you don’t share.” This includes clonal material, farming practices, production methods, and philosophies.
The conference pulsed with excitement as these winemakers parried with one another. The forty wines selected for pouring at the Grand Tasting afterwards weren’t bad either.
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