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2013 big year for news in wine biz

Wine news — Year begins with recognition by Wine Spectator for the quality Oregons wines


2013 was a headline year for Oregon wines and the Oregon wine industry.

The avalanche of news actually began in December 2012 when Wine Spectator magazine featured a cover story on Oregon pinot noir and then followed in its next issue by proclaiming on its cover that it gave 250 wines from Oregon a score of 90 or better.

The buzz indicates “a groundswell of interest in Oregon,” Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator editor-at-large, said at the time. And throughout the year, that groundswell seemed to continue to build.

There are more than 400 wineries in the state and more than 800 vineyards growing grapes in Oregon. The wine industry contributes more than $2.7 billion to the state’s economy, according to the Oregon Wine Board.

Then came the big news in March that California-based Jackson Family wines purchased the Zena East and Zena Middle parcels in the Eola Hills as well as the Maple Grove Vineyard southwest of Monmouth. This followed in May with Jackson purchasing Zena West vineyard in the Eola Hills and Gran Moraine vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton district. Then, in September, Jackson added the vineyard and winery that was home to Soléna Estate in Yamhill County. With this acquisition, the company has amassed 1,385 acres of vineyard property in Oregon.

In May, Precept Wine of Seattle purchased Yamhela Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton area. Precept is Washington’s second-largest winemaker.

Following the California and Washington invasion, came one from France. In August, French winemaker Maison Louis Jadot announced the purchase of Resonance Vineyard in the Willamette Valley from owners Kevin and Carla Chambers. This marks only the second time a French wine company has either purchased vineyards or purchased land to establish a vineyard in Oregon, with Maison Joseph Drouhin being the first with a purchase of property that became Domaine Drouhin Oregon. Both Maison Louis Jadot and Maison Joseph Drouhin are based in Burgundy.

“This is the first time that Jadot will produce wine outside of Burgundy,” Pierre-Henry Gagey, CEO of Maison Louis Jadot, said at the time of the announcement.

Part of the reason for all of this acquisition may be the premium that Oregon pinots command in the market. Another part may be the availability of vineyards or land suitable for cultivation as vineyards.

Whether we see the continuation of the pace of acquisitions in 2014 remains to be seen. But one thing’s certain, things are definitely looking up in Oregon.

Victor Panichkul is a Statesman Journal reporter for Northwest News Partnership



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