Oregon Wine Bottles Up

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By Karl Klooster

The 2012 yield has received universal acclaim as a vintage featuring heavenly flavors that promise praise for years to come. All the better for Oregon’s 20 largest wineries, which represent more than 80 percent of the state’s annual production.

At 231,500 cases, King Estate Winery retains its top spot this year in both total production at a single facility and for a brand or group of brands owned by a single winery. The winery’s 2012 total was down approximately 7 percent from 2011, mirroring overall industry averages. A shortfall in Pinot Gris accounted for the reduction.

Conversely, the next three largest wineries — 12th & Maple, NW Wine Company and Duck Pond — showed slight gains in total production. Entirely a custom-crush facility, 12th & Maple solidly maintains the number two slot at 156,000 cases; unlike others who provide the service, it has no brands of its own. 

Of the top 20, Union Wine Company had the greatest gain, growing 82.5 percent, from 40,000 cases in 2011 to 73,000 in 2012. That performance moved the winery from 16th to 8th place. Next was Argyle with a 31.2 percent production increase, from 46,800 to 61,400 cases, and A to Z Wineworks/REX HILL, which went from 101,200 to 119,300 cases, a jump of 11.8 percent.

In this effort to compile an accurate and informative industry profile, it is regrettable that basic information about one of Oregon’s iconic names is unavailable. Under its new ownership by Washington-based Ste. Michelle Estates, Erath Winery’s production figures will no longer be disclosed. Based on a previous estimate of some 125,000 cases annually, there is every reason to believe that its continued national marketing efforts would result in Erath retaining, if not increasing, production levels, which would put it in second position from a brand standpoint.

Therefore, King Estate retains its strong number one spot, with Erath earning a space-holder number two by default. Duck Pond maintains third position with 119,400 cases for 2012.

Marking another notable achievement in 2012, Sokol Blosser’s Evolution brand has grown from 79,400 cases in 2011 to 94,300 in 2012. This figure impressed further when compared with the 2010 number of 65,000 cases, which means in just two years, Evolution has surged upward by an impressive 45 percent.

Looking at the overall harvest picture, the most important changes among Oregon’s largest wineries and brands are noted above. The group of major players remains essentially the same.

It would appear at this point that 2012 will prove to be an exceptional quality year, perhaps rivaling 2008, but with lower quantity compared to all but 2010 among recent vintages.

Oregon Wine Press strives to make this report as accurate as possible. However, when production drops below the 25,000- to 30,000-case level, several wineries are tightly clustered and variables can affect their totals. 

If any winery that would qualify for a place in the 2012 rankings has been overlooked, please contact us, and we will correct the error in a future issue. 

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