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Oregon (non-Pinot) Wine Chat Primer

Last week, one of my favorite grapes, Viognier, was the subject of WineChat — a weekly virtual gathering of wine enthusiasts on Twitter that focuses on a different wine or wine topic each Wednesday evening at 6pm Pacific Time.  This week, one of my favorite wine regions — Oregon — will be the focus of tonight’s WineChat.

Though many wine enthusiasts know Oregon for their Pinot Noirs, there are many notable wines made from other varietals.  And, these ‘other‘ grapes are the focus of this evening’s WineChat hosted by The Oregon Wine Board (On Twitter:  @Oregon_Wine).

For those Oregon Pinot Noir fans, please plan to join us for WineChat on Wednesday, May 23 – Tamara Belgard from Sip With Me blog (on Twitter: @SipWithMe ) and I (on Twitter:  @DrinkWhatULike) will be hosting Oregon Pinot Noir WineChat.

WineChat has become so popular — I believe last week’s Viognier WineChat hosted by Todd at WineCompass Blog was the most popular ever — that keeping up with all of the questions asked and information shared during the discussion is quite difficult, if not impossible for those (like me) that read slower than the Twitter feed moves.  To that end, I’ve taken to posting a few bits information and factoids about the weekly WineChat topic as an educational resource on Wednesday evenings.

I have been a huge fan of Oregon wines since I first discovered wine in 2005/2006 so I’m excited about learning more about Oregon’s other grapes tonight.  As a primer for this evening, I am posting a short Q&A with the Oregon Wine Board.

DWYL:  First, share with us the the mission of the Oregon Wine Board?

The Oregon Wine Board is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. The Oregon wine grape and wine industry contributes more than $2.7 billion in economic activity to the state economy each year, including more than 13,518 wine-related jobs and $382 million in wages.

DWYL:  What are the top three non-Pinot varietals (in terms of acreage planted) in Oregon?    Or, Oregon wine is usually associated with Pinot Noir (and for very good reason), what are some of the other most popular varietals in Oregon (I’m personally most familiar with Pinot Gris).

  • Pinot Gris 2,747 planted acres 
  • Chardonnay 950 planted acres
  • Riesling 798 planted acres
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 639 planted acres

DWYL:  Total number of wineries in Oregon?

Approximately 420

DWYL:  Can you provide little-know fact(s) about the Oregon wine industry? 

  • Because of the multiplier effect, Oregon wine is arguably the most value added commodity produced by the state’s agricultural sector. (The grapes are grown here, harvested and crushed here, the wine is produced here, packed here and sold here and elsewhere.)
  • Oregon is the third largest viniferous grape producing state in the union.
  • Oregon’s wines have an international reputation that far exceeds the size of the industry here, largely due to the pioneering work here to create the first New World Pinot Noir growing region.
  • This is the first Oregon Wine Month since the late 1980s when Neil Goldschmidt was governor.

A few other Oregon wine related factoids:

  • Oregon will be the host for the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference.
  • In 2010, there were 1,930,763 cases of Oregon wine sold.
  • Oregon law requires that wines produced in the state must be identified by the grape variety from which it was made, and for most varietals it must contain at least 90% of that variety. The exceptions to the 90% law are the following varietals: Red and White Bordeaux varietals, Red and White Rhône varietals, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel and Tannat. For these wines, they follow the Federal guidelines of 75%. (via Wikipedia)
  • Wine has been produced in Oregon since the Oregon Territory was settled in the 1840s; however, winemaking has only been a significant industry in the state since the 1960s. (via Wikipedia)

For more complete coverage of Oregon Wine, I highly recommend that you check out the official Oregon Wine website.  If I’ve missed an important Oregon wine statistic or factoid, please leave a note in the comments to share.  And… don’t forget to join us on May 23rd for Oregon Pinot Noir WineChat!

Tonight, we will be opening one of my favorite Oregon white wines  — the Sokol Blosser Evolution — as well as wines from Cana’s Feast Winery.  Please join us!

To join us for Wine Chat tonight, open a bottle of your favorite Viognier, log in to Twitter and tweet along with us beginning at 9pm Eastern Time.  Be sure to use the ‘#winechat‘ hashtag for each tweet and follow the #winechat stream via Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or other Twitter tool.