Oregon wineries rally round for Rogue Valley growers left high and dry

Wineries in Willamette Valley have rallied round to support a number of growers in the south of the state who suddenly had contracts with a Californian producer cancelled late last month.

Several wineries including Willamette Valley Vineyards, Laurel Ridge Winery and King Estate Winery either have already bought fruit or are planning to buy fruit from the afflicted growers in an effort to help them salvage at least something from the season.

According to the Salem Statesman Journal, Willamette Valley Vineyards is buying fruit both for inclusion in its own Griffin Creek range produced from Rogue Valley grapes and for two collaborative labels with King Estate Winery and Silvan Ridge Winery.

In addition, Stoller Family Estates, A to Z Wineworks and Dobbes Family Estate among others are apparently making arrangements to buy what fruit they can.

As reported last week, around 15 growers in southern Oregon received word from the Napa-based producer Copper Cane & Vine that their contracts – totalling 2,000 tons worth some US$4 million – were being cancelled.

The reason given was that the fruit was smoke-tainted following wildfires in southern Oregon this year although no evidence was apparently given for this.

Although a very few pockets of fruit in other parts of the region have shown some evidence of potential smoke taint, they were not part of the crop destined for Copper Cane.

The growers in question have had their fruit tested and claim there is no evidence of smoke taint at all.

Many have speculated that the spat may have its roots in Oregon’s labelling laws and the fact that the Oregon wines Copper Cane produces are being looked into by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

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