Willamette Valley Wineries Association annual membership meeting

The PDF version of the presentation at the meeting is available here. Below are my notes on the meeting.

Before you get into that, however, here is a link to some research done by Ethan Seltzer at PSU on wineries in Oregon. He researched what some right/wrong moves were in wine regions such as Napa, Sonoma, Walla Walla, etc. It’s a good read and I would recommend it for anyone in the industry or doing research related to wine and wineries.

Also, before you skip the long and wordy, and roughly written notes, here is one thing I’d like to point out. The Willamette Valley Wineries Association has a committee dedicated to industry collaboration. The fact that there is an entire committee in this organization focused on cooperation and camaraderie between Oregon wineries says an incredible amount about the nature of our businesses. We truly are “friendly wine country.”

Anyways, to the notes!

The WVWA has a new mission statement that incorporates the industry and community more: they aim to promote, enhance and protect the prestige of Willamette Valley wines, support their members and community.
They are composed of 6 committees: branding committee, tourism committee, Industry collaboration committee, community relations committee and the advocacy committee.
The branding committee is focused on getting positive media coverage about Oregon wine. They have a movement called “Drink Pinot Think Oregon” wherein they have nationwide events centered around OR pinot noir. They had a successful campaign in Chicago wherein they asked various businesses involved in wine to have an Oregon wine display before and after their campaign. They were written up by the Chicago Tribune! They use EKP media for press releases and media inquiries.
Contact for that committee: kristin@montinore.com
The tourism committee is focused on drawing the “right” kind of people to Oregon. They want to analyze whether the crowds coming for ex. Memorial Day weekend are going to be joining our wine clubs and buying cases–or are they people who come in limos and are just trying to party for the day? That committee is going to be sending out surveys for us to fill out, as well as try to create events that draw quality tourism. They are trying to leverage associations such as Travel Oregon (which they are focusing on this year, so that Spirit Mountain thing is a good opportunity) and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association. They say to try and have events in off-season such as Feb–so we need to do V-Day events!
Contact for tourism committee: wayne bailey wine@youngberghill.com
The community relations committee is focusing on showing the community, such as Carlton, all the positive benefits to having the wine industry. For example, we all get asked for donations so often, there is a large chance that most public school fund raising in the are comes from wine. They are a new committee, so don’t have much to report, but they’d like to send out a press release on how much our industry helps the community by the end of the year. So their goal is to complete the survey and create a press release by Dec.
The industry collaboration committee is focused on getting the industry to work as a whole, more effectively and efficiently. There are numerous committees in the area that can potentially be combined since their roles overlap. They also want to find ways to utilize the major OR pinot noir focused events such as IPNC and OPC and figure out how to better use them as resources to get our name out there.
Contact Brian O’Donnel – he flashed through the slide too quickly for me to get his email address, but it is in the ppt presentation.
The advocacy committee focuses on immigration, health care, distribution regulation, sustainability leadership and land use. I didn’t really understand this part too well since it’s a lot of legislation, and the speaker didn’t relate any of the issues to why they are important to the wine industry, but they help with this program that teaches immigrants english and how to pass the citizenship test (why does this relate to the wine industry so much? I know it kind of relates to me but I figured I was sort of a rare case). They also want to educate members on how OR healthcare is changing for companies of 50 or fewer people–I understand why that is important to our industry, but he didn’t elaborate at all. We can email him for details. The speaker talked about staying on top of distribution and the Riverbend Landfill (is the landfill close to vineyards or something??) and he spoke about the SB 841. They hired a lobbyist and attorney, but aren’t using our dues to pay them–they asked for voluntary donations instead (I didn’t pledge anything.) All I got from that topic was that they are making sure we can have as many winemaker dinners and events as we want. There will be a limit on special occasion events though, like concerts (not that I see that being a concern for us in the near future).

Finally, the membership committee essentially asked us to tell our neighbors to join. 185 of the ~320 wineries in the area are part of the WVWA and they want all 320.

There were 2 more presentations by Sharon Wagner and Ethan Seltzer on the perception of OR wine and how to keep our region’s image consistent. What their research boils down to–and they mostly read off of their slides, which is another reason I’d like a copy of the powerpoint presentation–is that Oregon wines are seen as good value for the price, artisan, hand-crafted, and quirky. People see OR wine positively because we have good quality, price, and are unique. However, we need to sell the wine experience, not just our wine. We need to have a story, and our reputation as “Oregon wine.”

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