At the Second Annual Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium presented by Oak Knoll Winery, Paul Gregutt was asked to return as the keynote speaker. The reason for this is multilayered. First and foremost, Paul’s been writing about Northwest wines for over 25 years. He’s tasted Oregon Pinot Gris during that time, now understanding them better than most as to style and how they’re presented from a critical perspective.

Secondly, besides being a preeminent wine writer, being published in Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Seattle Times (and many other publications), Paul Gregutt also has a background in marketing. He’s worked with a wide range of technology companies with the highest level of people… the CEOs and CFOs… to determine how to market their products, doing this for many years outside of the wine industry. That kind of expertise is very helpful, even when looking at the wine industry. Marketing concepts are – when it’s all said and done – marketing concepts.

Yesterday’s blog story ~ Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium Sheds More Light on Oregon Pinot Gris as a Regional Specialty ~ began Paul’s keynote stating that “Oregon is the original home of American Pinot Gris, first planted here more than 40 years ago. Oregon Pinot Gris is unique and distinctive – a versatile, aromatic, textural white wine, with bright fruit and exceptional balance. Expressive of both place and vintage, it belongs beside Oregon Pinot Noir as the state’s iconic white wine.”

He threw this question to the group:

  • Do you market terroir?
    • Start by making sure you know what you’re talking about, with a real focus.
    • Some combination of older vines, site specific wines, consistent stylistic choices in winemaking.

Next, he asked the winemakers and grape growers to close their eyes and imagine a mental flavor map of Italian Pinot Grigios… and then to do the same with Pinot Gris from Alsace. “What does that taste like?” he asked. “Next, Oregon Pinot Gris…what does that taste like?” To him, the first two were easy with a really clear image. “For Oregon Pinot Gris, “It’s a rainbow of flavors. It’s not one thing, so it’s very difficult to generalize from a flavor standpoint.”

When marketing individual wines, he suggested to be very specific. “Here’s what our Pinot Gris tastes like,” without referencing anyone else’s brand or style.

Generalizations are for the collective marketing effort. Questions to ask yourselves as an individual brand:

  • Do you want to talk about PG as a grape?
  • What’s special about your AVA?
  • What makes your site special and specific?
  • Define what your particular take on OR Pinot Gris is like, what are the attributes?
  • “Here’s how we do Oregon Pinot Gris.”
  • Talk about individual vintages, even when they’re the difficult ones.
    • Riper vintages ~ You make a somewhat different style of Pinot Gris.
    • FEATURE: Cooler vintages are an asset ~ Lower alcohol, high acid, very refreshing wines with tremendous amount of style… They’re deliciously crisp, loaded with minerality wines.
  • Talk about what YOU do…
    • Lower alcohol.
    • How to pair with food.
    • Use of oak, or no oak, do you do a mix?
    • Not just the technique, but what that does to translate into flavor that helps consumer understand what he or she’s tasting.
    • Talk about old vines, or single vineyards. Look at what you have and what  makes you unique.

Oregon Pinot Gris, the “other” Pinot…


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