The Future of Oregon Wine: It Ain’t Pinot

This from a Portland paper, and makes some good points, I think… (a lot of large Cali Pinot producers would disagree, as they’ve made large investments up there)…

“Let’s play a game. Let’s pretend that Oregon’s fame as a preeminent Pinot Noir producer is based on a falsehood—that it’s largely the wrong grape to grow here. That there’s too much of it of too poor quality; that conditions and topography actually favor other varieties of grapes; that the whole industry, despite its investments and the narratives that it has generated along with swooning praise, has got it wrong.”

It will be interesting to see what happens when the public turns against Pinot Noir.

Not if, when.

This came out a while back and may be the single worst, dumbest, most poorly researched, tone deaf and agenda-laden wine “article” of 2017.

Edited for me jumping to conclusions: confused this with a WW (another local free weekly) article earlier this year. Sorry. Still, the article itself is playing pretend. Let’s pretend Cab doesn’t grow in Napa and pretend Nebbiolo doesn’t grow in Barbaresco. Whatever, dude.

Now don’t take it personally.

Why do you think that will happen? Despite the whole “ABC” thing, Chardonnay has enjoyed ridiculous commercial success worldwide for a very long time.

I’m not. The last thing I’m going to be concerned about is what the PM has to say. Spotting dumb can be completely free of personal attachment.

Because tastes change.

Chardonnay has a specific core market that won’t drink anything else.

I never run into people who say they only drink Pinot Noir.

I can’t disagree with the idea that other varietals should be grown in the WV. There should be more Chardonnay, Gamay (Brick House makes an outstanding version), Cab Franc (I’ve asked Marcus if he’d pursue this as I think he would crush it), Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc (hello, PGC and J Christopher), Syrah, and others, even if that means less acreage for Pinot Noir.

Why is there still so much Pinot Gris (this coming from someone who very much likes OR PG from certain producers)? Makes no sense that is the second most planted IIRC.

I agree with this, David. I think a professed love of Pinot Noir can often be the result of a search for something different from what a consumer has enjoyed. When I fell for Pinot a few years ago, I fell hard. It was so different from Cabernet (which I get plenty of as a grower/producer). But my love affair has waned, and my interest in Chardonnay (and OMG, Champagne) has increased. Still can’t do Riesling. Ain’t going to happen.

Cabernet Sauvignon might be a better comparison. I don’t see the public turning against that any time soon, and its popularity has already been quite long lived.

I can turn most Cab lovers with a good bottle of Syrah. Bring them back from the dark side so to speak.

I love that idea, but it doesn’t negate my point about assuming PN will have some major fall from fashion.

Why do you think PN may be the next Merlot? Not challenging, just very curious…

Nothing other than the general public is mercurial/sheep. They turned on Merlot because of a movie.

Does that include Burghounds or are we just talking domestic PN?

I am discussing the general wine drinking public, not lunatics like us.

People need to broaden their horizons beyond Cab, Merlot, PN, and Zin. Oregon can probably grow many grapes.

But if I were planting, I’d plant what I could sell. That would probably mean Chardonnay.

Emphatically agree!

Statistically, Oregon Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) continue to grow rapidly.

That said, nothing has to fail for other things to flourish.

Much of what the writer has published focuses on the new, different, and edgy and each of the wineries featured in the article are pursuing the unconventional and doing their best to build their own brands.

Knowing most of those quoted, I doubt they would forecast the demise of Oregon Pinot Noir (or Napa Cab, etc.).

Sideways effectively expressed a trend at a perfect time. But it wasn’t the cause of Merlot’s decline…the move from Merlot to Pinot would have happened anyway. Pinot was increasingly available in a friendly & easy to drink style similar to merlot (similarly friendly and E2D, not similar flavors of course), and the Pinot was generally higher quality, esp due to Merlot being over planted and high yields at the time, which drove the shift.

Also, Miles’ famous statement about Pinot not being able to grow anywhere (compared to Cab, in his speech) isn’t really true. The world has clearly proven that Pinot can grow in lots of places and produce an interesting beverage. Pinot is probably better at this than Merlot is. Otoh, the number of spots that can produce a thrilling Pinot is quite small, but that’s fine wine for you.

Seems to me the ‘obscure varieties’ trend will continue and will take away from the top varieties, but I’ll be surprised if Pinot is singled out on this (or on other similar themes). Of course, global climate change will shift things around as well.

Maybe it’s me, but the more I drink US (essentially California and Oregon) Pinot Noir, the less I like it. There are some standouts, but even a large number of “top” wines seem largely indistinguishable, and ultimately boring.