How do you follow a great Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium?

Easy… with an Oregon Pinot Gris marketing group at

The players who are leading the cause:

These select few Oregon Pinot Gris wineries have banded together, not just to have meetings and decide who, what, when, and where. No siree… This one is solely created with the idea that Oregon needs to be known for more than Pinot Noir. And, since Pinot Gris is the second largest wine grape variety grown in Oregon, it makes sense to begin with this, the most obvious of varieties. Yes, Oregon grows many fabulous varieties, like Riesling and Gewurztraminer; but they’re less likely (due to their eclectic flavors) to cause a popularity swing. Pinot Gris is already on the rise for being more mainstream and already enjoyed by many, many wine consumers.

This group’s purpose, or mission if you will, is to raise awareness that Oregon grows more than Pinot Noir, as they take on the second most popular grape to be grown in their great state of Oregon… Pinot Gris. They’re also about showing the diversity and complexity of what Oregon has to offer.

[So, if you’re a wine writer or blogger, we need to connect.]

In the next year, we plan to shed a lot of light on this versatile-with-food-friendly variety. [Note to self: develop a recipe section on the website, from the wineries in the group.]

When Charles Humble, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Oregon Wine Board read a blog posting that I had written about the Oregon Pinot Gris group, he immediately reached out:

Hi Jo,

I read with interest your recent blog on the role of government in wine marketing. I completely empathize with the point of view being expressed. The role issue is a big one and one that hasn’t often been well articulated in the past. I’m relatively new in my position, so one of my goals is to do my best to provide clarity, try to understand better the expectations, how to communicate our approach, and how we should work with the private sector.

I would welcome a further conversation on the topic and offer myself as a resource for future blogs on anything related to Oregon’s diverse wine industry.

This prompted many communications back and forth between us. Included in those communications also delivered a statement from Tom Danowski, the Oregon Wine Board’s new executive director:

“I’m excited to be back in wine, and I think Oregon wine has a very bright outlook. The more I looked into it, it’s just such a great time for Oregon.

“We have an opportunity to show that there’s more to Oregon than Pinot Noir. It gives us another opportunity to re-interest people in Oregon wine. Having some of those new varieties come alongside Pinot Noir gives people another reason to be excited and gives the trade another reason to give us additional shelf space.”

 Facts about Oregon Pinot Gris, that you may or may not currently realize:

Assets of Oregon PG in general

  • Higher acidity, lower alcohol than CA or WA versions
  • Bracing minerality
  • Purity of fruit
  • Minimal, often no new oak flavors
  • Genuine vintage expression (as a subset of terroir)

We’ve organized to differentiate 1) the category and 2) our brands’ wine(s)?

We’ll do the following, and pass along the messages:

  • Agreed upon such basics as always calling it Oregon Pinot Gris. (Thank you, Paul Gregutt.)
  • Tie Pinot Gris into the concept of Oregon flavors, Oregon style, build “Oregon Pinot Gris” this way.
  • As a category we’ll demonstrate more high end examples.
  • Everyone within the group will stop the Alsace and Italy comparisons.
    • We’ll be talking only “Oregon’s” style
    • To use comparisons isn’t doing the variety in Oregon any favors
  • We’ll have a broad campaign.
    • That takes just two things
    • Time and money being spent by the brands in the co-operative marketing group
  • Tie it into Oregon Pinot Noir with a snappy tagline:
    • Oregon Pinot Gris: the flavors Chardonnay can only dream of!
    • Pinot Gris: Not all Oregon Pinot is Noir!
    • Pinot Gris: The Other Oregon Pinot
  • We’ll never call our PGs simple
    • They’re not simple
    • We’ll demonstrate the complexities
  • Chefs love this wine.
    • Portland (and Oregon) has a terrific food culture
    • We’ll use their dishes as part of our wine marketing
  • Each brand will create its own individual selling point of difference – its core story:
    • Single vineyard/grower bottlings
    • “Tree-free” or unoaked
    • Barrel fermented
    • Old vines
  • Going with the trends – a little r.s.
    • But will keep it tasting dry
    • And, moderate to low alcohol (13.5 and under is desirable)