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America unites for first California, Washington and Oregon Go West! UK tasting

Published:  14 March, 2014

The US states of California, Oregon and Washington will be holding a combined tasting for the first time next week at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London on March 17. 

The US states of California, Oregon and Washington will be holding a combined tasting for the first time at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London on March 17.

Whilst the Californian generic wine tasting has traditionally always been held in March, Washington has, since 2006, brought its wines to the trade in January. But for the first time the two states, along with Oregon, are combining forces for one overall US tasting.

"Each year our event has grown gradually in size, however, we constantly review our activities and had been looking at how to take the tasting to the 'next level'. By combining with California, we will present a really compelling tasting for the trade," said Kate Sweet, UK representative of the Orgon Wine Board and the Washington State Wine Commission.

John McLaren, director of the Wine Institute of California in the UK, added: "There are, of course, some practical and economic considerations in play, but more importantly, we are conscious of the demands made on the time of trade buyers and the media, particularly within the vital independent retail and on-trade sectors, where decision makers are often also running the businesses themselves. The distributors, too, are understandably reluctant to take their sales forces off the road to staff a burgeoning calendar of tastings."

The combined West Coast tasting "allows visitors to get a really comprehensive picture of the wine scenes from each of the three states, with all their synergies and differences laid out in one room on one day. We hope that visitors who would not normally attend an Oregon or Washington-only tasting will take time to explore the wines of Oregon and Washington and come away with a greater understanding of how the three states and their wine industries fit together," said Sweet.

McLaren agreed: "It became clear there may be some synergy in enabling buyers to range-review their entire west coast portfolio all in one day and all in one place. I believe that logic should be applied to the architecture of a California, Oregon and Washington range, which acknowledges the myriad styles, cultures and price points, and avoids the tokenism we have seen so often."

Sweet added: "Oregon and Washington's proposition means that we will never have large volumes of wine, so our focus is on the independent merchants and on-trade. These areas have been strong in recent times and we have seen a lot of interest, especially in Oregon Pinot Noir, but also in Washington Syrah and in Riesling from both areas."

"We expect to attract a wider visitor base than any of us could on our own, and, while California is by far the larger partner, our friends from the north certainly add interest and, for some still, novelty," McLaren notes. "Changes in the structure of the UK trade have brought new sectors to the fore, and the west coast has become a recognised source of interesting wines from smaller producers, by which independent retailers and restaurants - and in particular restaurants which are part of the steak house and US-themed outlet phenomenon - can express their individuality."


What: Go West! Tasting

Who: Wines of California, Oregon Wine Board and the Washington State Wine Commission

Where: Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London

When: March 17, 2014

For more information click here