Monday, July 14, 2008

Oregon's Biblical-sized grape glut

Ancient cash register along side an original bottle of wine from Hillcrest winery, said to the be the oldest estate winery in post-Prohibition Oregon.

"'What we have coming,'" said Bill Hatcher, managing partner with A to Z Wineworks in Dundee, 'is a grape glut of biblical proportions.'

"Hatcher estimates that by 2012 the amount of acreage planted in pinot noir grapes will be almost double what it was as recently as 2005."

Hatcher's statement in the July 2, 2008, Oregonian surprised me after interviewing more than 80 Oregon winemakers, owners and vineyard managers for the past 8 months for my new book, Oregon: The Taste of Wine.

The Oregonian article continues: "That result, if realized, could drop the bottom out of the state's wine industry. Profits could fall precipitously, and a number of Oregon's 400 wineries, particularly those locked into pricey, long-term grape contracts, could find themselves facing disaster."

For one of the chapters of my Oregon Wine book titled The Future, I asked what the Oregon wine industry will look like in 50 years. While I neglected to interview Hatcher, I got a totally different picture than his vision.

I'm very curious what people in the Oregon wine industry think. I would really appreciate comments. (I'm getting lots of personal email comments, but readers seem to be reluctant to respond on the blog. Come on, stand up and be counted. I really want to hear your view.)

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