Winemakers Bring Oregon Inside


Oregon’s vintners launch delivery, home wine tasting kits, and more

SALEM – On typical spring days when the sun warms the Willamette Valley, the patio and tasting room at Redhawk Winery overflows with customers and conversation. Visitors come for the wine and the view: an eastern-facing hillside with vistas sweeping from West Salem to the Cascades.

But now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you won’t find anybody sipping wine at Redhawk, or at any of the state’s more than 700 other wineries.

“We would be so busy on days like today,” said Redhawk co-owner Betty Pataccoli, who says the winery had to lay off two tasting room employees due to the shutdown. “We miss the crowds.”

The wine tourism business is worth an estimated $800 million a year in Oregon. Now, with tasting rooms and patios off limits, many vintners are being creative to help maintain cashflow. Many wineries – including Redhawk – have launched curbside pickup service. Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner and McMinnville will deliver, and bring meals while they’re at it.

Other wineries offer videoconference conversations with a sommelier, and Copa Di Vino of The Dalles is shipping home wine tasting kits, with 2-ounce pours of five different varietals.

To help raise the profile of Oregon’s wine industry efforts, the Oregon Wine Board has unveiled a new marketing campaign dubbed “Oregon Inside.”

The Wine Board is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry, in all the state’s diverse winegrowing regions.

The new campaign recognizes that Oregon’s amazing appeal comes largely from the outdoors, from vineyards to the mountains, said Wine Board communications director Sally Murdoch.

“We place a lot of emphasis on being outside,” she said. “Because we can’t do that right now, this is the way to celebrate Oregon by bringing people inside.”

Oregon wineries rely on tasting rooms and restaurants, on average, for between 35 and 40 percent of their sales, she said.

The Oregon Inside campaign will hopefully also bolster Oregon’s food and hospitality sector, said Kai McMurtry, the Wine Board’s Consumer Relations Manager.

The marketing effort will be the foundation of a new statewide rewards program, he said.

The long-term challenge is two-fold, he said. “Wineries need to generate business now,” he said, “and they also need people to be excited to come back and visit once wine country re-opens.”

Learn more about the Oregon Wine Board here.

Alexis Bame, tasting room manager at Salem’s Redhawk Winery, helps load wine into customers’ car trunks on April 11 as part of the new curbside pickup service. 

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James Sinks is the Financial Education Program Manager with the State Treasury

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