South Willamette Wineries Association
The wineries and vineyards in the southern part of the Willamette Valley formed a professional association, South Willamette Wineries Association (SWWA), dedicated to promoting wines of their region. SWWA believes its region is “the premier destination location for high caliber wines, intimate boutique winery experiences, premier wine events as well as overall region enjoyment.”
Part of the Willamette Valley, the area stretches from Monroe in the north, to Veneta in the west, to Lorane and Cottage Grove in the South, to the I-5 Corridor. Eugene is the region’s major city, followed by Corvallis.
Focus? Our focus is to promote members of SWWA.
Identity? We seem to be an “undiscovered” wine region for many travelers. We are a diverse group with a common goal. By that, we mean some us are old — founded in the ’70s — and some of us are brand new. Some have facilities, and some are “wineries without walls.” We have internationally distributed brands, while others sell in their tasting room only. Some are urban, and some are rural. And our winemakers, growers and staffs range from native Oregonians to transplants.
Varieties? Cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, as well as Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat. Chardonnay is making a comeback.
Collaboration? Yes! Two years ago we went from being Wineries of Lane County to South Willamette Wineries Association. We created a dues structure, bylaws and elected an executive committee. All members are voting members. We hired an outside marketing company (Rossetti Marketing) to provide design, website, social media, PR and event coordination services.
Additionally, we have many personal stories of new vineyards planted with help from existing growers in the region. For instance, Robin Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Vineyards has helped influence our small region. Many growers come for advice, kicking tires with Pfeiffer and other members regarding spray rotations, tractors, suppliers, etc.
Also several members are winemakers who have their own labels but also make wine for other members (example: winemaker Jonathan Obermiller at Silvan Ridge also produces J. Scott Cellars).
Challenges? Our challenges are mostly non-metro related. We are in the shadow of wineries closer to Portland, which carries serious fundraising power being closer to the metro area. The fact that we are so far from Portland also makes it more difficult to increase visibility. Other than King Estate, we also lack large estate wineries that can contribute more marketing dollars — this lack of funding makes it difficult to produce large events.
Marketing? Social media is a huge part of our marketing campaign. We currently have more than 700 Facebook fans and more than 1,300 Twitter followers; we use those platforms to engage our audience, drive traffic to our website and blog, and promote our barrel tour. We use constant contact for e-mail campaigns. We are starting to notice (and utilize) Pinterest.
One of the most important marketing strategies is sharing our map with as many people as possible. We share it through social media and our website. We also stock it at places like the Eugene Airport and visitor centers in Lane County.