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Oregon’s A To Z Wineworks Leverages The Pinot Boom

February 22, 2018

With Oregon wine volumes now above 3.4 million cases and growing, Pinot Noir remains the star, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the state’s vineyard acreage. Among the key labels driving growth is Newberg-based A to Z Wineworks, whose flagship A to Z brand grew 13% to 285,000 cases in the U.S. market last year, according to Impact Databank.

A to Z’s Pinot Noir expression ($20 a 750-ml.), which comprises half the brand’s volume, grew by 13% last year, while its Pinot Gris and Chardonnay (both $15) rose by 10% and 9%, respectively, accounting for most of the remainder. “A to Z is now taking hold as a branded business, and resonating with people who are becoming loyal to a single brand,” says Ron Mertz, A to Z’s president of national sales.

Two recent brand extensions—both launched last year to commemorate the winery’s 15th anniversary—have also played a role in the upswing: the sparkling rosé Bubbles ($18 a 750-ml.), and Pinot Noir label Essence of Oregon ($28). According to Mertz, Bubbles and Essence of Oregon have been very well received since the soft launch last fall. Launched as limited editions, both labels have become permanent additions to the lineup.

Other A to Z offerings include a Riesling and a Sangiovese-based rosé in its core lineup, both retailing at $15 a 750-ml. “In terms of percentage growth, rosé and Riesling are outpacing our big three wines,” Mertz says. “We’re ramping up production on those two labels to meet demand, and to ensure we can offer them year-round.” Riesling and rosé each currently account for about 15,000 cases of production.

This year, A to Z plans to focus wholly on its existing lineup. “We don’t want to distract from building our core wines, and so far that’s been working for us,” Mertz says. “In particular, we’re betting on Chardonnay from Oregon becoming a big thing.” —Julia Higgins

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