Reader Letter: Travelers, Beware

Submitted by Bill Moore, Springhill Cellars representative (Albany)

February, my wife and I packed our motor home and headed out searching for sunshine. Our plan was to drive to Palm Springs and then go eastward through the Southwest.

We carried enough Oregon Pinot Noir to last a few days thinking we could re-stock along the way. But once we left Northern California, Oregon Pinot Noir was not to be found. Across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, grocery stores and wine shops were void of any Oregon wines.

We arrived in New Iberia, La., ready for a few days of relaxation and Mardi Gras parades. While exploring the town, we discovered an antique/wine establishment filled with an impressive selection of bottles. Yes, even some Pinot from Oregon. We found a few bottles of Penner-Ash Cellars Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir and some A to Z Wineworks Pinot. Also included were some Oregon Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

Talking to the owner about her wine selection, we commented on the quantity of her inventory. There were many California wines, with Australia, Chile and Italy thrown in, plus the previously mentioned Oregon wines. When we asked about the paucity of Oregon wines, she said it was because it was difficult to acquire from distributors.

Learning that we were from Oregon and that we had an interest in Oregon wines, the proprietor asked if we had heard of Erath wine. I responded, “Well, sure we have. Dick Erath is the rock star of wine producers in Oregon.” She then went on to tell an amusing story about Erath wine.

As she told it: About 15 miles west of New Iberia is the small town of Erath. She hosted an event in her shop for a group of people from Erath. Hoping to impress them, she acquired a couple of cases of Erath Pinot Noir that her distributor couldn’t move. When she brought out the wine, everyone started to laugh, thinking it was some kind of joke. They laughed until they started tasting and then the conversation turned serious. The people loved it. Within 30 minutes, all of her Erath wine had been sold with no more to be had.

We enjoyed the tale and had a good chuckle, but in the back of our minds the question remained, “Why aren’t we seeing Oregon wines?” Between Oregon and Mississippi, we saw many wine shops, including Albertson’s and Safeway. We could purchase all the Starbucks coffee, Subway sandwiches and California wine we wanted, but were hard pressed for Oregon wine.

I don’t have the solution, but I do know that if you bring it, they will buy it, drink it and ask for more. 

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