Oregon now has more than 700 wineries, up from 450 just five years ago. Around 70 percent of these wineries produce less than 5,000 cases of wine per year. This makes them small, family-run businesses, mostly operating in rural Oregon. Competition is fierce, with fewer distribution options. Consumer preferences are changing, too. Direct-to-consumer sales have increased as wine lovers – and buyers – choose to travel to winery tasting rooms to enjoy and purchase wine. Increased tourism in Oregon is vital to the future of the Oregon wine industry.
Local tourism agencies operating in winery regions receive surcharge revenues from sales of “Oregon Wine Country” license plates, which have been around since 2012 (also a CFM client success story). These agencies aren’t required to spend these revenues on tourism to promote the wine industry, and not much coordination between these groups and regional winery associations has occurred on how best to spend the surcharge revenues.
On behalf of the Oregon Winegrowers Association, CFM worked with key legislative leaders on a bill to clarify Oregon Wine Country license plate proceeds should be spent on “wine & culinary” promotion programs, and well as promote greater collaboration between local tourism agencies and the wine industry and regional winery associations We told legislators how important tourism is to the wine industry and the entire state and the about the benefits of coordination in spending limited promotional dollars from license plate proceeds.
The legislature overwhelming passed legislation to direct all Oregon Wine Country surcharge funds to wine and culinary tourism and directed Travel Oregon to write rules that encourage collaboration on how to spend these dollars.
CFM Partner Dan Jarman represented the Oregon Winegrowers Association in taking on this challenge. Learn more about Dan and his work here.