Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to correct the name of the old wine association.
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – Disgruntled wineries in the Oregon Winegrowers Association have formed a second trade group.
Oregon’s new wine industry stakeholder coalition announced Friday that it has formed the Oregon Wine Council, Eugene Register-Guard reported.
Earlier this year, members opposed wine legislation they considered “anti-competitive”. The new group has said it represents the interests of the entire state.
“We formed the OWC because a majority of large taxpaying winegrowers, as well as many small producers in the state, have no say in how their tax money is spent,” said Sam Tannahill, board member and founder of the OWC. A to Z Wineworks in Newberg, in a press release. “We weren’t represented. Our goal with the OWC is to change that.”
Members of the old organization said it was already a statewide organization for growers and producers.
“The argument that the OWA is somehow a bunch of selfish people from one area of ââthe state is patently bogus,” said Justin King, Board Member, King Estate National Sales Director Winery in Eugene. “We have representatives from all over the state, from southern Oregon, more than a few, actually.”
The southern Oregon wine industry has a different business profile than the Willamette Valley, King said.
The valley has a great mix of wineries and wine growers. In southern Oregon, there are a lot more wineries than wineries, he said, and growers want to be able to sell their grapes on a large scale.
A bill in the Legislature contributed to the split. The measure aimed to apply more strictly the labeling standards of wines from a certain region.
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The standards say that a certain percentage of grapes must come from a region referenced on a label.
For example, an in-state or out-of-state winery that purchases grapes from areas of southern Oregon, but labels its wines from the Willamette Valley AVA, could not include more than 5% of this southern Oregon fruit in its wine. The standards already exist, but enforcement by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would have expedited the legislation, which was not passed.
The measure has created divisions with regions in Oregon that primarily sell grapes.
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The bill was sponsored by the OWA and those who disagreed said the group did not consider their interests.
The two groups said they seek to unify Oregon’s wine industry.
King said the wine association had contacted the new group with the intention of working together.