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Monday, January 21, 2008

Thanks to Federal Grant U.K. Gets a Taste of Wines From Oregon and Washington

Restaurateurs, retailers and food and drink journalists in England got the chance to drink wine from about three dozen wineries from the Pacific Northwest earlier today and the tab was picked up by U.S. taxpayers.

Thanks to a federal grant of $200,000 made to the wine promotional agencies from Oregon and Washington, the vineyards set up a day of tastings and presentations in London. The goal was to open up new markets for pinot noirs from Oregon and rieslings from Washington.

The United Kingdom is a huge $20 billion wine market that few American vintners, mostly from California, have managed to crack. While most smaller domestic wineries sell much of their wine through tour centers and to retailers in limited geographies, a growing number of vineyards are looking to markets in both Europe and Asia as a way to build a strong demand for their brands. The quality of American wines, coupled with the weakness of the American dollar, makes many of these wines a bargain on the international market.

By joining forces and getting the government to underwrite the event, the Pacific Northwest wineries are better able to get the attention of the London wine community. It will be interesting to see if exports from the two states increase during the next few years.

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