Oregon wine industry tops 725 wineries, 30,000 acres of vines

By on August 29, 2017

Willamette Valley Vineyards launched its Elton Winery brand this summer, a tribute to the highly acclaimed vineyard established by the late Dick O’Brien and his wife, Betty. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon wine industry grew its sales in 2016 by 12 percent to $529 million, and there now are 30,455 acres of vineyards producing for 725 wineries, according to a report released Tuesday by the Oregon Wine Board.

Accountants and winery owners also should enjoy seeing the 10 percent growth in case sales and seven percent increase in direct-to-consumer sales.

“While production decreased last year, the volume of sales is up along with the dollar amount for the year,” Steve Thomson, chairman of the Oregon Wine Board stated in a news release. “This shows the Oregon wine consumer is drinking more at a higher price per bottle.”

The Southern Oregon University Research Center team’s report also noted the addition of 23 wineries across the state, reflecting an average growth of two new wineries per month.

Pinot Noir accounts for 64 percent of the state’s wine grape acreage at 19,471 acres planted. The total span of vineyards planted increased by 2,414 acres or 8 percent.

At the same time, vineyard production was off by 6 percent, a drop from 84,949 tons in 2015 to 79,782 tons. That was not entirely unexpected coming off the record-setting harvests from the 2014 vintage and again in 2015.

Pinot Noir reportedly sold for $5,376 per ton in Oregon

Steve Thomson, a partner in Octave Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, is president of the Oregon Wine Board. He chairs the export and marketing committees and sits on the strategic planning committee of the Oregon Winegrowers Association. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Wine Board)

While the price per ton for Cabernet Sauvignon fell to $2,472, it still ranks No. 1 in Oregon, followed by Pinot Noir ($2,422), Cabernet Franc ($2,309), Syrah ($2,274), Merlot ($2,097), Tempranillo ($1,995), Zinfandel ($1,930) and Chardonnay ($1,897).

However, the most expensive blocks remain Pinot Noir, with the highest reported price hitting $5,376 per ton. Next was Syrah, likely from the Walla Walla Valley, at $4,448 per ton, followed by Chardonnay ($3,867).

Interest in cool-climate varieties is on the rise. Increased plantings showed Chardonnay was 16 percent from 2015, Riesling (8 percent), Müller-Thurgau (24 percent) and Pinot Gris (7 percent).

Growers throughout the state reported a combined $168 million in production value for 2016. That’s off from the $176 million in 2015. Perhaps a more clear indication of the vintage is reflected in the yield, which fell from 3.43 tons per acre to 2.88 tons per acre.

As a result, the average price per ton of Pinot Noir increased approximately 3 percent.

Much of the industry’s recent growth in sales stems from the super-premium tier of $20-25 per bottle. National retail scanner data indicates a rise of 60.3 percent. The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Earlier this month, the Oregon Wine Board reported that overall sales of Oregon wine are up 17 percent during the past 12 months.

“The Nielsen figures, plus the trend of more consumers buying at tasting rooms builds a good case for demand momentum and market acceptance, not just supply-driven production increases,” Thomson said.

Other highlights via the Southern Oregon University Research Center included:

  • In-state sales of Oregon wine increased 3 percent
  • The Willamette Valley continues to lead the state with 73 percent of total tons crushed.
  • There’s substantial growth in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley with plantings up 19 percent from 2015, now standing at 3,827 acres. The Southern Willamette Valley grew even more, by 21 percent, to 3,369 acres.
  • Canada, at 41 percent, remains the top customer for international sales by Oregon wineries exporting.
  • The average price per ton of Pinot Blanc climbed 19 percent to $1,642 per ton.

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About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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