Late last month the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE) released its Oregon Vineyard and Winery Census Report for 2016. The annual report shows data on grape and wine production, as aggregate numbers for the state with subtotals broken out for each of five major wine producing regions: North Willamette Valley, South Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley, Rogue Valley and Columbia River/at large. Overall, 2016 domestic Oregon wine sales were up, with a 10 percent increase in case sales, while vineyard production decreased from 84,949 tons of fruit in 2015 to 79,782 tons in 2016.
Here are some of the 2016 statewide highlights headlining the report with comments on how our local Rogue Valley stats compare. Note, the Rogue Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) includes the Applegate Valley AVA in its entirety.
• The leading grape variety in Oregon in terms of planted vineyard acreage remains Pinot Noir at 64 percent.
In the Rogue Valley planted acreage devoted to Pinot Noir in 2016 was 1,489 of 3,827 vineyard acres. Rogue Valley total planted vineyard acreage was up by 15.5 percent over 2015 with a 57.7 percent increase in area planted to Pinot Noir which stood at 944 acres in 2015. A distant second is Pinot Gris with 471 planted acres, followed by Chardonnay at 247, Syrah at 229 and Riesling at 187.
• Piot Noir accounted for 57 percent of total wine grape production in the state.
In the Rogue Valley, Pinot Noir production accounted for 28.4 percent of our total wine grape production in 2016, 2,764 of 9,716 total tons. In 2015 Pinot Noir accounted for 24.6 percent of total Rogue Valley wine grape production.
• The tonnage of grapes crushed in the North Willamette Valley accounted for 73 percent of the 2016 statewide total, 51,601 of 70,579 total tons. Statewide the total crush was down from 2015 when it stood at 73,518 tons.
The Rogue Valley 2016 crush of 5,466 tons accounted for 7.7 percent of the total for the state. Last year’s Rogue Valley crush increased from the 2015 total of 5,378 tons.
• Case sales for the state reached nearly 3.4 million in 2016, a 10 percent increase over 2015.
• In 2016, as in 2015, the leading export destination for Oregon wine was Canada. Canada accounted for 41 percent of 65,515 total cases in export sales, followed by the United Kingdom (10.6 percent) and Japan (10.1 percent). Total export sales decreased from 70,068 cases in 2015, a 6.5 percent drop.
An Oregon Wine Board (OWB) press release dated Aug. 29 notes “steady gains in many areas of the state’s wine industry” citing total 2016 revenue of $529 million with gains over 2015 including a 12 percent increase in sales overall and a 7 percent increase in direct-to-consumer sales (sales through winery tasting rooms including phone and web orders and wine clubs). Acknowledging decreased production alongside increases in sales volume and total dollar amount of sales, OWB Chairman Steve Thomson states, “This shows the Oregon wine consumer is drinking more at a higher price per bottle. Our growers and winemakers are helping educate and refine the palate of wine drinkers, thereby reinforcing the quality of wine produced in all regions of the state.”
For more information, see the SOURCE website at https://inside.sou.edu/research/winecensus.html or consult the OWB website at http://industry.oregonwine.org/resources/winery-and-vineyard-reports/.
—Ashland freelance writer MJ Daspit is co-author of "Rogue Valley Wine."