With more than 460 wineries producing over two million cases of wine, Oregon is one of the largest wine-producing states in the country. And despite a challenging economy, in 2012 Oregon witnessed the opening of several new wineries, as well as hosted conferences, implemented new educational programs, and launched the first-ever "Oregon Wine Month."
Here are some highlights in the world of Oregon wine that took place during 2012:
Several new Oregon wineries, winemaking facilities and tasting rooms opened in 2012.
- During its 10th year of business, Matello Wines moved into its own winery in McMinnville.
- Walter Scott Wines, Alexana Winery and Brittan Vineyards, among others, moved into their own production facilities.
- New tasting rooms sprung up like wildflowers in the Oregon countryside as the Willamette Valley’s Stoller Family Estates, Angela, Omero Cellars and Remy Wines and the Rogue Valley’s Kriselle Cellars and many others opened new tasting facilities.
Portland’s urban wineries added new names to their roster.
- The SE Wine Collective, located in Portland’s Division-Clinton neighborhood, was born. Founded by Kate and Thomas Monroe of Division Winemaking Company, the part-winery, part-business incubator, part-tasting room (with guest beers on tap) opened its doors in August. Besides Division, other participating wineries include Helioterra, Vincent Wine Company and Bow & Arrow Wines.
- Fausse Piste Winery and Sauvage, located near SE 5th and Ash, is a new winery/gastro-pub from Nicolas Vernon Duff, Chris Vandersloot, Jeff Vejr, and Jesse, Tina and Leon Skiles.
As with any year, we saw the passing of influential members of the Oregon wine community.
- Wine industry luminary Edward King Jr. passed away in June. King, who grew up on a wheat farm in Jetmore, Kansas, cofounded Eugene’s King Estate Winery with his son Ed King III in 1991. It is now the largest producing winery in Oregon. King's legacy of success includes wines that are sold all over the world.
Oregon hosted several annual wine conferences.
- The annual Wine Bloggers Conference was held in Portland, drawing hundreds of wine enthusiasts, writers and their trusty laptops to Oregon.
- The American Wine Society held its annual conference in Portland for the first time.
Oregon's Pinot Noir became an international cover model.
- Internally distributed Wine Spectator Magazine put Oregon Pinot Noir on the cover of its November issue. Harvey Steiman's in-depth story on the wines and producers who have helped to mold the industry features Domaine Drouhin, Evening Land Vineyards and Adelsheim Vineyard.
Oregon Wine Month was launched.
- Governor John Kitzhaber established May as the first-ever "Oregon Wine Month" featuring statewide tastings, events and marketing to bring more awareness to the state’s diversity of wines and regions.
Local winemaking education programs expanded.
- Umpqua Community College opened its new winemaking and teaching facility.
- Yamhill-Carlton High School introduced a viticulture program as part of the Future Farmers of America/Agriculture curriculum.
All in all, 2012 was a good year for Oregon. Building on this momentum, it will be fascinating to see what 2013 has in store.