Too Much of a Good Thing?

    Over the past 20 years, Oregon has grown into a winegrowing and winemaking powerhouse.

     No state comes close to California in production, but Oregon has joined Washington, New York, Virginia, Texas and a few other states as a key player in America’s wine industry.

     While numerous varietals are made by Oregon’s vintners, the star variety, without question, is Pinot Noir. Even though the movie “Sideways” was filmed in California’s Santa Barbara County, its unabashed embracement of Pinot Noir had a “trickle up” effect in Oregon as well.

     Now, however, at least one vintner is worried that Oregon may have too much of a good thing – that recent and ongoing Pinot Noir plantings may soon create a situation where the supply is greater than the demand.

     “What we have coming is a grape glut of biblical proportions,” said A to Z Wineworks Managing Partner Bill Hatcher in an article that appeared in The Oregonian newspaper.

     Hatcher points to estimates showing that Oregon’s Pinot Noir vineyard acreage will double in just seven years between 2005 and 2012.

     “If we planted nothing at all after this year, we’ll still be looking at an enormous excess of fruit,” Hatcher added. “The growing divide between supply and demand is just going to keep on intensifying.”

     Not everyone in the Oregon wine business shares Hatcher’s point of view. In fact, he is in a very small minority.

     Are other growers and vintners turning a deaf ear to a potentially catastrophic problem?

      “Like any marketplace, there are always going to be some people who are bullish and some who are bearish,” said Dick Shea, who has been growing grapes in Oregon for more than 20 years. “I’m certainly on the bullish side of Oregon  Pinot Noir.”

     Oh, if only we had a crystal ball… that actually worked.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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