When about 50 years ago the pioneers in Oregon’s nascent wine scene planted their first vines, the state made few waves. All that changed since, as a recently released industry overview by the Oregon Wine Board attests dramatically.
“Oregon in terms of size by population fights well above its class in the wine wars,” Kenneth Friedenreich writes in his new book, Oregon Wine Country Stories: Decoding the Grape, now available from Arcadia Publishing.
“Oregon is among the nation’s five top wine producing states, but is a mere fraction of others with far more people–California, New York, Texas–and but half as settled as Washington state. This outcome is pretty remarkable. Wine has made Oregon’s profile very different than once it was.”
The author turns to Sally Murdoch’s recent summary of the results of a 2016 economic impact study just released. Compared to the prior analysis in 2013, the qualitative appreciation of Oregon wine reflects in profound growth in output and value.
Murdoch, communications director for the Board, focuses on overall growth, revenues, job creation and tourism. She has plenty to tout: “The three most telling figures are as follows: the sum of all economic activity in Oregon related directly or indirectly to wine is $5.61 billion, compared to $3.35 billion three years ago, a 67% jump in statewide impact. She explains: “This includes winery and grower revenues, wholesale and retail sales of wine, related industries such as trucking and professional services, plus the effect of their employees’ spending in Oregon.” 2
Murdoch then highlights both wine-related and support jobs in Oregon totaled 29,738, up from 17,099 in 2013, representing a 74% jump. Related wages topped $1 billion, which led to over $155 million collected by the state in taxes.
The third growth benchmark is heightened tourism impact, more than doubling since 2013.
These ebullient numbers says Friedenreich reinforce the perceptions that draw wine patrons and visitors to the state. When Eric Asimov of the New York Times concluded that “Oregon was the most exciting” wine producing part of America, he was responding to both to what I call our “commercial ecology” that integration of activity and resource that shows up in a glass of wine, Friedenreich asserts. “This is a very good time to be in Oregon.” – KR