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Oregon wine industry worth ‘ten times’ more

The Oregon wine industry is worth some US$1.4bn to the state – more than ten times higher than previous estimates, a study has revealed.

Until recently the Oregon Wine Board considered the ‘economic impact’ of its businesses in Oregon to be not more than US$100m, but it has commissioned a new study which took a broader look at wine revenues, the study’s director told decanter.com.

‘Until now the wine economy has only been measured in terms of direct winery revenues,’ said Christian Miller of Full Glass Research, which carried out the study. The 50-page report takes other value-added aspects into account – from vineyard maintenance costs to distribution, tourism and a range of sales rung up by supporting industries – in addition to direct winery revenues.

Spanning 1994 to 2004, the study reported a 60% increase in the number of Oregon wineries, with a doubling of grape acreage and winery sales volume.

It also reported that grape value has roughly quadrupled since 1994. Without in-store sales, the study still tallied the direct economic impact of the state’s wine industry at a $801m.

The state newspaper The Oregonian reported earlier this month that the study ‘may prove to be the first shot in a land-use battle between vineyard and winery owners on one hand and developers on the other.’

Miller said such headlines are not surprising: ‘Anywhere you have a growing population and a growing industry, you start to have conflicts between people who want to develop areas for housing and people who want to maintain them as agrarian.’

The study also noted the positive influence of the film Sideways in promoting sales of Pinot Noir, Oregon’s most widely planted grape, which increased roughly 15% in 2004, and appear to be reaching over 20% growth in 2005.

To put the figures into perspective, the Wine Institute calculates that the California wine industry has an annual impact of around US$45.4bn on the state’s economy. New York state reckons the economic impact of its wine industry to be in the region of US$7bn.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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