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  
April 2015 $627 million
5%
$8,028 million
5%
April 2014 $595 million $7,623 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
April 2015 $184 million
17%
$1,890 million
15%
April 2014 $157 million $1,649 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
April 2015 406
34%
252
19%
April 2014 302 212
     
 
MORE » Released on 05.15.2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2015
 
Download full report »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • May 28-29
     
    Direct2015
     
  • May 28-30
     
    WIneMaker Annual Conference
     
  • May 28-30
     
    International Chardonnay Symposium
     
  • June 2
     
    Taste of Mendocino
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: $10 Wine Would Cost $40-plus Under COOL »
 
As a Napa Valley producer, we have spent 30 years building our brands in the...
Reader: Pete Przybylinski
 
Article: Be a Sustainable Wine Ambassador »
 
A great idea. All TR employees at every responsible estate should be encouraged/required to become...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Historic Napa Winery Standing Tall Again »
 
It would be nice to know that Trost Jacking and Heavy Moving is the structural...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Women for WineSense offering scholarships »
 
This is fantastic! Women in Wine Education must find ways to continue their individual pursuit...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Historic Napa Winery Standing Tall Again »
 
Very Interesting, I'm so glad the building is successfully being saved.
Reader: Guest
 
 


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
 Accounting Associate
 Brisbane, CA
General Administration and
 Enologist
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaker/Enologist
 Tasting Room Sales Ass...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Tasting Room Sales Ass...
 Angwin, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Lab Tech
 Lodi, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Sales Manager
 Los Angeles, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Senior Wine Sales
 San Rafael, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Rep Sought For V...
 Southern California, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Harvest Intern
 Lodi, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
 Mid West Regional Sale...
 Chicago, IL
Sales and Marketing
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





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

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2015 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.