In seven categories, Oregon wine beats out California, says a Linfield College survey.

The seven categories are:

  • Hand crafted artisan wines
  • Organic or sustainably made
  • Small family farms
  • Community/collaboration
  • Value for price
  • Uniqueness
  • Quirkiness/independence

In contrast, California scored higher than Oregon for:

  • Mass produced wine
  • Tradition
  • Expensive wines
  • Easy to find when I buy wine.

The Linfield College consumer survey looked at attitudes towards Oregon versus California wines and wineries. They interviewed 1020 consumers and asked questions about their perceptions of Oregon wines and wineries. Those results were compared to results from the same survey conducted for California wines and wineries.

In preparation for the study, researchers interviewed nineteen representatives of Oregon wineries including founders, owners, managers, and winemakers. From the interviews of people in the Oregon wine industry five factors that they consider key to  Oregon’s regional reputation were identified. Those factors are Hand crafted artisan, Organic or sustainably made, Small family farms, Community Collaboration, and Stewardship of the land.

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What we can learn

Oregon winery owners spend time and money to promote their wines, marketing their visions, their goals, and the fruits of their labors. Some wineries emphasize history, others a philosophy of life. The focus might be environmental, local food production, or social. Each winery wants to stand out and be identified for their own unique brand and style.

Oregon wine, as a statewide industry, needs a definition. Industry insiders think they have a good idea of what sells – what consumers respond to when the words “Oregon wine” come up. But an insular attitude towards consumers can lead to expensive mistakes. Thus the Linfield study’s importance to all Oregon wineries, and to the industry overall.

by Jean Yates