StateWays - March/April 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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41 StateWays n n March/April 2016 OREGON GRAPES TO WATCH Chardonnay – As a specialist in Burgundian grapes, it should come as no surprise that this region can produce stellar Chardon- nay and sparkling wines. "Our top Chardonnays are truly special," says Adelsheim, "and as we develop more infrastructure and experience with the Champagne method, you'll see some spec- tacular sparklers from high-elevation sites." Tempranillo – "Tempranillo is easy to grow and vinify in Oregon, particularly Southern Oregon. It just a natural here," says Earl Jones, founder of Abacela Vineyards and dedicated Tempranillo evangelist. Since his initial 1995 plantings, Jones has inspired 56 more growers in the state to try their hand at Rioja's famous native grape. The variety has proven popular with tasting room visitors and the commercial value of Oregon's Tempranillo harvest has more than tripled since 2010. Wineworks was an early success story in that quest, channeling wine geeks everywhere with their slogan, "aristocratic wines for democratic prices." But today the company is not simply on fi re on the sales front (as Oregon's leader in Nielsen's national scan data), but blazing an uncommon trail when it became the world's only 'B Corp' winery in 2014. Certifi cation as a B Corporation provides a formal frame- work ,allowing for-profi t companies wishing to benefi t soci- ety as well as their shareholders to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. "Our goal is simply to offer quality wines at value prices," says Deb Hatcher, a founding partner who serves a chief marketing and sales offi cer for A to Z, "while building a company that is a force for good." This type of inspirational thought-leadership has been baked into Oregon's wine culture from day one, and boosts Oregon's consumer appeal. "Oregon leads in certifi ed sustainable vineyards as a state with 48% of our vineyards certifi ed," says Christine Col- lier, winery director for Willamette Valley Vineyards. "We hold ourselves to a higher standard of truth-in-labeling by only allow- ing 10% off-varietal blending, compared to 25% in other states. We fi nd consumers are willing to pay for a product they believe has value, an authentic story, a sustainability-focus and an emo- tional connection with the way they choose to live their lives." IDAHO Consumers may associate Idaho with spuds, but with over 50 wineries and approval for its third AVA in the pipeline, the state clearly has a rosy fi ne-wine future. The region's high-desert cli- mate is similar to that of Washington's Columbia Valley, with an aptitude for everything from Riesling to Syrah. "The elevation, the volcanic soil, the proximity to the Snake River and its warm, sunny days and cool nights provide us with some of the best conditions for growing premium wine grapes, as well as outstanding ice wines when conditions are just right in late fall," says winemaker Maurine Johnson of Ste. Chapelle Winery, who also serves as matriarch of sorts to Idaho's un- commonly female-skewing community of winemakers. Idaho's modern wine era was kickstarted in 1975 with the founding of Ste. Chapelle in what is now the Snake River Valley AVA. After being snapped up by a number of large players like Constellation and Ascentia, it was acquired by Precept Wines in 2011. As owners of the nearby Sawtooth Winery and extensive Idaho vineyard holdings, this move made Precept Idaho's largest producer and the Northwest's largest privately-held wine company. BRITISH COLUMBIA Visiting British Columbia's Okanagan Valley may require a passport, but this gorgeous locale is a natural northern exten- sion of Washington's wine country and a must-see destination for wine lovers. Bruce Schoenfeld nailed it in 2009 when he wrote in Travel & Leisure, "imagine Lake Tahoe as a backdrop for the Napa Valley." Stylistically, British Columbia wines are split roughly 50/50 between whites and reds, but the region's climate more reli- ably produces distinctive whites - particularly Chardonnay and Riesling. Pinot Noirs show promise in cooler northern zones, while red Bordeaux varieties perform better further south. The current currency imbalance has caused a surge in American visitors, introducing them to BC's wines and creating demand back home. "Tourism from the US is up dramatically," says Ingo Grady, director of wine education for Mission Hill Family Estate. "They're not just skiing and shopping here, but snap- ping up real estate too." Macro-economic factors make it much easier for Canadian producers to sell their wines domestically. For example, Con- stellation Brands is Canada's largest producer, with BC brands like Black Sage and Nk'Mip, but Constellation exports little wine to the U.S. However, a few quality leaders like Mission Hill recognize that the path to wine world legitimacy leads south of the border. "Exporting wine means sacrifi cing about a considerable portion our margin," Grady says, "but we choose to do it anyway. Proving ourselves in the world's largest wine market (right next door) is the right thing to do for our long term future."

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