A cluster of Pinot Gris, ready to rumble.
Hey Chardonnay: Look! Over here!

If you don’t know much about Pinot Gris from Oregon, brace yourself; it’s about to get Real in the West Coast vineyards.

Well known and even more respected wine guru Jo Diaz has spearheaded the launch of a wine marketing group focused on the white wine grape variety. It’s fairly young (at least as far as wine lore is concerned) in these parts, and was first planted in Oregon in 1966.

A small group of Pinot Gris wineries have banded together and decided that their state should be known for more than just Pinot Noir (we concur!).

The seven wineries forming the newly minted marketing organization include: Airlie Winery, Christoper Bridge Cellars & Satori Springs Estate, David Hill Winery, Oak Knoll Winery, Pudding River Wine Cellars, Terrapin Cellars, and Yamhill Valley Vineyards.

Tom Danowski, executive director of the Oregon Wine Boards told Jo via email:

“We have an opportunity to show that there’s more to Oregon than Pinot Noir. It gives us another opportunity to re-interest people in Oregon wine. Having some of those new varieties come alongside Pinot Noir gives people another reason to be excited and gives the trade another reason to give us additional shelf space.”

A few interesting decisions have already been made in an effort to put wood behind the Gris arrow. Some juicy highlights, and a peak into some of the tactics around wine region marketing/branding:

  • The group will only refer to it as “Oregon Pinot Gris”
  • Everyone within the group will stop the Alsace and Italy comparisons; instead they will talk about “Oregon’s style”
  • Some proposed tag lines for upcoming marketing campaigns:
    • Oregon Pinot Gris: the flavors Chardonnay can only dream of
    • Pinot Gris: Not all Oregon Pinot is Noir!
    • Pinot Gris: The Other Oregon Pinot

Will it succeed? Time will tell, of course, but we should have a pretty good idea by the end of 2012 how things are looking for the #2 grape out of Oregon. Meantime look soon for the pay-per-view Chard-Gris deathmatch.

A cluster of Pinot Gris, ready to rumble.
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.