Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
04.03.2013  
 

Northwest Focuses on Wine Profiles

Leaders say regions and individual states need to build up geographic brands

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
california wines
 
Speakers at the Vancouver International Wine Festival told trade and media representatives it's key to give consumers the knowledge they demand.
Vancouver, British Columbia—A recurring topic of conversation across the Pacific Northwest remains the need and opportunities to boost the region’s wine profile—collectively, as well as each state’s individual wine industry—with wine consumers.

While the distribution agreement Trinchero Family Estate recently struck with Charles Smith and Charles Bieler for Washington state’s Charles & Charles brand, as well as investments by major wineries in the region’s vineyards and wineries, have been touted as boosting sales opportunities and the profile of the region’s wines, this week’s social media outcry regarding Bloomberg writer John Mariani’s unflattering assessment of Washington state wines highlights the region’s sensitivities.

While acknowledging that Washington winemakers have engaged in a great deal of experimentation in recent years, Mariani observed after a recent visit to the state that the resulting wines are typically, “intense, highly tannic, high-alcohol wines that show well in their youth but often lose brightness and complexity with age.”

The comments triggered hand-wringing and protests that the state has so much more to offer, if only Mariani had tried a broader selection of the state’s wines. (Mariani’s favorites included wines from Seven Hills Winery, JM Cellars and rising star Efeste—as well as Charles Smith’s unpretentious Kung Fu Girl Riesling.)

A case for Oregon
Yet many of the comments posted by defenders of Washington state wines echoed comments at the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium this past February, where the industry discussed the importance of building a brand for the state’s wines.

“Oregon still equals Pinot Noir, and there is more proselytizing to be done,” quipped Christian Miller of California consulting firm Full Glass Research Inc., during the symposium’s opening session (see “Start Spreading the News”). 

Miller argued that ignorance is the key hurdle a region faces in building its reputation. In Oregon’s case, people simply don’t know what is available, despite the rising tide of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Tempranillo challenging Pinot Noir in the state’s vineyards and fermentation tanks.

Veteran winemaker David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyards remarked that Oregon offers complexity—of place, of varieties, of people—a point Ted Baseler of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates reiterated during a luncheon presentation.

Oregon’s strength, Baseler said, is its reputation as a “special place” with a diversity of geographies, varieties, styles and prices.

“It conjures up so many images,” he said, noting that the diversity gives Oregon, “huge advantages over Washington.”

Of course, Washington state wineries would challenge that comment.

Going to Washington
Indeed, the state has been challenged for having so much diversity that it has failed to hitch its wagon to a single variety, a tactic that has won Oregon fame. Yet this same diversity is what Marty Clubb, co-owner of L’Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla, Wash., notes is also the state’s strength among consumers.

“(Critics) miss the point,” he wrote in a column for Wines & Vines two years ago. “Washington’s strength is its diversity, not its specialization.” (See “Washington's Strengths Are Diversity and Value.”) Chances are Clubb is right; if Oregon, once known for a single variety, is now touting Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, then diversity might be key.

Building a brand
During the Vancouver International Wine Festival at the end of February, a panel of California winemakers told the trade and media representatives that giving consumers the knowledge they demand is key to building a brand.

California, of course, is more than Zinfandel or Chardonnay, let alone the jug wines and California Chablis of yore.

Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards said consumers are demanding wines that reflect where the grapes were grown. Years of improvements in winemaking practice have allowed for technically correct wines, but consumers want to taste the place of origin, not just technical expertise.

Marco DiGiulio of Girard Winery acknowledged that there will always be a place for the sweet fruit bombs that usually form the entry level tier of wines for many drinkers, but they serve to introduce people to the world of wine. The tastes of the core drinkers upon which the industry relies evolves once those tastes are formed.

Wine writers f or the major outlets aren’t necessarily doing the industry a service when they write dismissively of these wines, or focus on the top-scoring wines from a given region to the exclusion of wines that the broader run of the market actually drinks.

Ultimately, it leaves a great deal of education—and profile development for a given region—in the hands of wineries and the retailers that stock them.

The result?

“It behooves us to have an education bent to everything we do,” DiGiulio said.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 $708 million
5%
$7,844 million
6%
November 2013 $673 million $7,428 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 $274 million
21%
$1,799 million
16%
November 2013 $225 million $1,558 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 127
-5%
226
15%
November 2013 134 196
     
 
MORE » Released on 12.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

FEATURES
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • January 7
     
    Putting Your Brand to Work
     
  • January 9-18
     
    Icewine Festival
     
  • January 13-16
     
    VinCO
     
  • January 15
     
    WineFlavor 101B
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Grape Industry Lukewarm on Immigration Act »
 
A band-aid it may be but instead of the negative tone of this article which...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Oregon Wine Institute Plans for the Future »
 
When Mark is involved, things are going to work out just great! We miss the...
Reader: Peter Bell
 
Article: Spanish Cooper Sells Chinese Oak »
 
I would love to find Us wineries using the Chinese oak barrels. Do you know...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Prohibition Laws Linger 81 Years Later »
 
Trader Joe's (Union Square) and Whole Foods (Upper West Side) both have wine shops attached...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Prohibition Laws Linger 81 Years Later »
 
Maybe the economy could use another boost by repealing the post-prohibitionary laws too. Make it...
Reader: csm noble
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Engineering Project Ma...
 Sonoma, CA
General Administration and
 Free-Lance Sales Repre...
 Manhattan, Brooklyn, Upstate Ny, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Viticulturist
 West Sussex, UK
Winemaking and Production
 Winemaker & Vineyard M...
 Markham, VA
Winemaking and Production
 Back Office Manager
 New York, NY
General Administration and
 Sales Coordinator
 Paso Robles, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Retail Wine Department
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Senior Vice President
 American Canyon, CA
General Administration and
 Administrative Assista...
 New York, NY
General Administration and
 Driver/Shipping And Re...
 Novato, CA
General Administration and
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.