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Annual report lauds the growing health of the wine industry over the past year

SUBMITTED GRAPHIC - The Oregon Wine Board released its annual "Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report" on Sept. 12 and the document opines that the industry continued to increase momentum in 2018, with one significant change.

The demand for Oregon wine continues unabated, according to an industry group.

The Oregon Wine Board released its annual "Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report" on Sept. 12 and the document opines that the industry continued to increase momentum in 2018, with one significant change.

"While the north Willamette Valley leads in quantity of vineyards and wineries – 651 and 502, respectively – there are now 793 wineries across the state, with 24 added last year," the report said. "Wineries in the south Willamette Valley swelled by 16, the biggest regional growth in 2018, now totaling 89 in the region.

In order to increase the amount of wine produced in the state, vintners added to the number of acres planted in wine grapes by nearly 6 percent in 2018, increasing from 33,996 acres in 2017 to 35,972 acres in 2018.

"The highest growth rate in planted acreage last year was seen in the Umpqua and Rogue valleys with 10 percent more acres of grapes planted this year over last," the report from the Portland-based group said.

Data for the report, gathered by the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon, showed that sales of Oregon wine rose 12 percent in 2018 while overall sales of table wines saw a drop of more than half a percent across the nation.

And the state's encouraging numbers show no signs of abating.

"For the first time the estimated value of Oregon's wine grape crop topped the $200 million mark in 2018 at $208 million, up from $192 million the year prior, an increase of 8.8 percent," the report said.

In fact, the research determined that Oregon wine sales expanded from $550 million in 2017 to $607 million in 2018, primarily due to a 19 percent increase in direct-to-consumer shipments.

Ultimately, according to Oregon Wine Board President Tom Danowski, the industry's momentum is due simply to the recognition that the state's wines take a back seat to no one.

"Visit any winery or vineyard now in the midst of harvest and it's easy to see the skills, experience and extra effort from winemakers, vineyard growers, growers, tasting room staff and everyone involved in the process of crafting Oregon wines," he said.

As expected, pinot noir held sway over the other varietals in Oregon with more than 20,000 acres planted, a jump of about 5 percent from a year prior. The popular wine accounts for 56 percent of planted acres in the state, as well as 58 percent of 2018's wine grape production, the report said. Pinot gris was a distant second, but did see a 4 percent growth in acres planted last year.

Merlot grew by 26 percent in planted acreage, while cabernet sauvignon saw a 25 percent jump. Syrah, the report said, saw a significant leap of 21 percent in planted acreage in 2018, while cabernet franc and chardonnay continue to increase at 16 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

The report indicated that Canada continues to be the largest importer of Oregon wines, accounting for 45 percent of export sales and consuming more than 47,000 cases of Oregon wine in 2018.

Not to be outdone, the Scandinavian market saw a 59 percent increase in sales, particularly to Denmark. The Asian countries of Japan, China, South Korea and others bought more than 15,000 cases of Oregon wine last year.

The complete report is available on the Oregon Wine Board website at industry.oregonwine.org.


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