Oregon Wine Market is More than Pinot Noir

It’s indisputable that California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma County are the most famous wine regions in the nation. Of course, we in the wine industry understand our business certainly isn’t limited to this state. Vineyards across the nation are home to exceptional wine; those in Oregon are no exception. Over the past decade, this northwest state has seen massive growth within its wine industry. According to Wines Northwest, the region had 676 operating wineries in 2015, up from 544 wineries in 2013 and 400 in 2010. Together, these wineries occupy more than 20,000 acres of vineyards.

The growth of Oregon’s wine industry can clearly be seen within its DtC performance. Our latest DtC report found the region saw a 13.3% increase in volume and 14.6% increase in value in 2015. For comparison, the region’s closest neighbor, Washington, saw a volume increase of 8.6% and value increase of 8.1%. It’s also good news that volume increase didn’t come at a sacrifice of value: the average price per bottle held steady at $40.17, an increase of just over 1% over the previous period.

We Say Oregon Wine, You Say…

Like other wine regions around the country, Oregon is known, or most associated, with certain varietals and terms. In a study conducted by Wine Opinions, Oregon wine was most associated with the phrase “Pinot Noir.” In fact, 47% percent of study participants made this association, an overwhelming lead over the second-most common association of “good/excellent wines” at 9%. Other associations included “good/great pinot noir,” “white wines/Pinot Gris/Riesling” and “Up and coming.”

Given that the Wine Opinions’ study showed that Oregon is most associated with Pinot Noir, their sales performance should be no surprise. The varietal lead the Oregon DtC market by a long shot, making up almost 57% of the total volume shipped in 2015 and almost 70% of the total value. When we look at the dollar amounts, Pinot Noir accounted for more than $70 million For comparison, the state’s second-best performing varietal, Chardonnay, accounted for about $6.13 million. The average price per bottle of Pinot Noir also saw a 3.2% increase to $49.26.

More than Pinot Noir

Of course, the dominance of Pinot Noir doesn’t mean that other Oregon varietals didn’t perform well last year. Though only making up 7.2% of the year’s total volume, Chardonnay saw a

40.8% increase in value. Red Blend and Pinot Gris/Grigio each accounted for 5-6% region’s total volume shipped, though they saw a 20% and 30% increase in value, respectively.

When we look at volume growth, Chardonnay experienced a 30.8% increase to 14,924 cases. Red Blend and Pinot Gris/Grigio each saw more than a 20% increase in volume shipped to 10,501 and 12,039 cases, respectively. Though these numbers are impressive, they can’t compare to the growth other varietals: Rose saw a 106.5% volume increase to around 6,852 cases while Fume, Sauvignon and Blanc experienced a staggering 141% increase to 1,168 cases. It’s suffice to say we can’t ignore that these varietals are growing in popularity, at least when it comes to DtC shipping.

Unfortunately, not all Oregon-based varietals had a successful year. Cabernet Franc, Sparkling, and Syrah/Shiraz all saw drops in volume last year of more than 20%. The particular drop-off of Syrah/Shiraz reflects the overall trends within the industry: the varietal has seen a 7.6% drop in growth since 2011.

Interestingly, Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the few varietals that saw an increase in value despite a significant drop in average price per bottle. The varietal increased 11.7% in value to $1.2 million last year, fueled by a 40% increase in volume shipped, while the average price per bottle dropped over 20% to $34.18. Though Red Blends and Merlots had similar patterns, their decrease in average price per bottle were much smaller.

Like the DtC industry in general, Oregon is benefiting greatly from the growth of the DtC industry. Though Pinot Noirs currently dominate shipments from this region, other varietals are coming into their own. From Chardonnay to Pinot Grigio, people around the nation are catching on to the other wines the state has to offer. In other words, there hasn’t been a better time to work at an Oregon winery!

3 Comments

  1. Mark Bixler

    This Wine Opinions survey sounds like a complete waste of time and money, like most surveys. The only surprising statistic was that Sparkling Wine was down, which must be an anomaly because it is so small a category. “Red Blend” is so vague as to be useless in Oregon.

    Reply
  2. Sandra Ericson

    How does the Oregon DtC industry plan to avoid what has happened in the Napa Valley where the wine/ag business model has evolved into the hospitality/entertainment business model, ultimately marginalizing both the local people and their wine?

    Reply
    • Rachel Bush - Brand Manager

      Hi, Sandra!
      Interesting question. Unfortunately, we can’t offer much guidance here. I’d suggest reaching out to the Oregon Wine Board: http://industry.oregonwine.org/. Thanks, Sandra!

      Reply

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