Oregon is a treasure trove for wine lovers, a state with incredible natural strengths that make it ideal for fine winemaking.
But except for a handful of high-profile success stories in Willamette, most of the state’s most fascinating terroir remains undiscovered or undeveloped. Why is that?
Southern Oregon is an unfortunately common story in the traditional wine market: an incredible wine region that is only held back by the high cost of marketing.
What makes Oregon so perfect?
Almost all Oregon wines are advantaged by the state’s lengthened growing season, letting grapes hang a bit longer and ripen slowly thanks to the tempering influence of the cool, crisp nights to develop rich, ripe flavors while retaining freshness and acidity.
Beyond that, I’d say Oregon has one massive strength that is the backbone of all my favorite wine regions: diversity.
The winemaker we’re funding in southern Oregon likens the land there to “the facets on a diamond”, each little parcel reflecting the land’s natural brilliance in a different and equally captivating way.
Even though Oregon is gaining fame primarily as a Pinot Noir producer (over 60% of the state’s wine production), the state has a huge geologic and climactic diversity that makes OregonWine.org say “There’s a home in Oregon for any wine grape from Arneis to Zinfandel.”
And I tend to agree…Oregon has it going on!
So what is holding Oregon back?
The traditional distribution system takes the path of least resistance.
If somebody has spent millions of dollars making Napa Cabernet famous, they gladly fill orders for Napa Cab. But they’ll rarely invest their own time and money into making a region famous.
So you need deeeeep pockets to invest in a vineyard in Oregon (the land, the capital investment, the operational investment, the time to sit on your investment with no return for a few years, and perhaps most importantly the sales and marketing budget).
Nancy Keates’ recent real estate article in the Wall Street Journal gave a great cross-section of the kind of people investing in Oregon vineyards (spoiler: there are more software tycoons than farmers). These are folks who either moved there decades ago or who have millions to spend.
But there aren’t hundreds and hundreds of independent winemakers who can afford to make the leap and launch their own wine brand in Oregon without a little bit of help…
Naked Angels will solve Oregon’s marketing problem
Our Angels are going to invest $1 million a year in Oregon wines.
Southern Oregon has amazing quality wines. The only problem is that starting a winery there seems like risky business just because nobody knows how to spell Umpqua or can point to Rogue Valley on a map.
That’s where Naked Angels came in and said they’d take out all the risk for the winemaker. 100,000 wine drinkers offered to chip in to help a talented independent winemaker make it big.
We took a proven Pinot pro with an impeccable track record (who helped put California Pinot on the map), and we put him in this wild frontier environment to apply all the lessons he learned from developing Californian wine country…
Buckle up and we’re announcing this new winemaker later this week!
Great insight. Go Oregon wine :-))
I love Pinot from Oregon but it’s almost impossible to get some here in Ireland due to it being exorbitantly expensive (for the reasons you provided in your article). I hope they can overcome these hurdles, and that the $ weakens against the €!! 😉
haha, we can’t control the currency markets – but we’ll work on getting the best wine possible for the price and bringing some to Europe one day 🙂
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So easy to taste and drink … Oregon’s Pinot Noir is a must! Delicious.