The Oregon Wine Board is the agency responsible for supporting and promoting the wine grape and wine industries in Oregon. They also have a research and educational role and serve as a central depository for Oregon State wine industry statistics.
They have recently published the results of the 2012 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Census (PDF), which on this occasion was compiled by the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE). It itself includes a wealth of information but, when combined with previous Annual Vineyard Reports by the US National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), shows the extent of the industry’s growth over the past 30 years.
The total Oregon wine vineyard was estimated to be 10,306 ha in 2012 – the first time that Oregon has broken the ten thousand hectare mark. This represents a significant jump from the reported figures for 2011 (8,262 ha). The change is due not only to the planting of new vineyard, but to a change in the census approach taken by SOURCE compared to NASS, which probably now makes the census slightly more complete. Until 1998 white cultivars occupied a greater share of the Oregon wine vineyard than black cultivars. The latter have continued to occupy an increasing proportion of the total vineyard since 1998 as the white vineyard area has shown only very slow growth. In 2012 black cultivars made up 74% of the Oregon wine vineyard.
The expansion of the black grape section of the Oregon vineyard is almost entirely due to extra plantings of Pinot Noir. Unlike Washington where a number of different cultivars each occupy a significant share of the total vineyard, here Pinot Noir (6,224 ha) alone makes up 60% of the total vineyard. Other cultivars are very much overshadowed, with Pinot Gris (1,388 ha) being the next most planted, having taken the second place spot from Chardonnay in 2000.
To put the area of Oregon Pinot Noir in context, the total Pinot Noir in some other New World countries in 2012 was estimated as follows: Australia (4,767 ha), Chile (3,500 ha), New Zealand (5,388 ha). Oregon’s Pinot powerhouse looks set to play an increasingly important role in supplying Pinotphiles, both in the US and overseas.