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Pinot noir drops while cabernet rises

Last month the Oregon Wine Board released the latest data on grape and wine production in Oregon, with subtotals broken out for each of five major wine-producing regions: North Willamette Valley, South Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley, Rogue Valley and Eastern Oregon.

As Mail Tribune business reporter Greg Stiles reported last month, 2017 saw year-over-year growth in Oregon wine sales, revenue and production.

Here are some of the 2017 statewide highlights, with comments on how our local Rogue Valley stats compare. Note, the Rogue Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) includes the Applegate Valley AVA in its entirety.

• The leading grape variety in Oregon in terms of planted vineyard acreage remains pinot noir at 58 percent. Note, this figure is down from 64 percent in 2016.

In the Rogue Valley, acreage devoted to pinot noir in 2017 was 1,462 acres, about 30 percent of 4,841 vineyard acres. In 2016, pinot noir accounted for about 39 percent of vineyard acres.

Rogue Valley planted vineyard acreage was up 26 percent over 2016. While pinot noir acreage is down slightly (27 acres), cabernet sauvignon acreage, a mere 178 acres in 2016, shot up to 528 acres, making it the most dominant planting behind pinot noir. Cab didn’t even make the top five varieties in 2016. Pinot gris comes in third with 517 planted acres, followed by syrah at 442, an impressive 93 percent year-over-year increase. Chardonnay at 286 acres came in fifth on the most-planted list.

• Piot noir accounted for 59 percent of total wine grape production in the state.

In the Rogue Valley, pinot noir production of 3,379 tons accounted for 28 percent of our wine grape production of 12,061 tons. The headline here is the total production figure, up 24 percent over 2016.

• The combined tonnage of grapes crushed in the North and South Willamette Valleys accounts for 84 percent of the 2017 statewide total of 77,170 tons. Statewide, the total crush is up from 2016, when it stood at 70,579 tons.

The Rogue Valley 2017 crush of 5,919 tons, 7.6 percent of the total for the state, increased by 8 percent from the 2016 total of 5,466 tons. We had 96 wineries in 2017, 61 of which crushed grapes. This leads to the conclusion that the number of wineries reported includes “virtual wineries,” those produced through custom-crush agreements with brick-and-mortar establishments.

The surprise in the winery figures is that 22 percent of the Rogue Valley tonnage crushed came from grapes sourced from other states, 1,307 tons out of 5,466 tons. This is a surprise because the crush of out-of-state grapes in 2016 was exactly zero.

• In 2017, as in 2016, the leading export destination for Oregon wine was Canada. Canada accounted for 49 percent of 94,351 cases in export sales. The headline here is that exports to Canada increased by 74 percent year-over-year, 46,692 cases in 2017, compared to 26,798 cases in 2016.

For more information, see the Oregon Wine Board website at http://industry.oregonwine.org/resources/winery-and-vineyard-reports/

Next time, no numbers — I promise!

What’s your take? Email MJ Daspit at mjdaspitwinot@gmail.com. For more on this topic, check out her Backstory Blog at mjdaspit.com.

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