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California, Oregon and Washington wines shine at Go West Tasting

Published:  11 March, 2016

At yesterday's Go West! annual tasting California, Oregon and Washington wines emphasised that wines from west coast of the USA are gaining traction in the UK market.

Over 300 wines were poured on site and exhibitors across the board seemed pleased at the venue becoming increasingly crowded over the course of the day. The success of the wines from the west coast was primarily responsible for several exhibitors having added new producers to their ranges this year.

Armit Wines was previewing the four new producers that they have added to their portfolio. Edwina Watson, the buyer for Armit  Wines, said: "There is lots of interest and it is the first time that four of the our wine ranges are being represented to the market."

Gordon Minnis, owner of Calistoga Restaurant & Sideways Wine Shop in Edinburgh which only has California wines on its list, makes the annual trip down to attend the tasting. He said: "I have been to the tasting most years and this year definitely people are expanding their wine ranges and there are many more wines here then in years past, especially among the premium wines."

Some have attributed the recent success of west coast wines has been attributed to the wines becoming more approachable and balanced. But several of the exhibitors indicated that many wines have been made this way for some time.

"This is not the 'new' California.  Nothing has really changed as California has produced these style of wines for a long time. I think it is just that the spotlight on the style of wines that are getting recognition at the moment has moved. It is great as these style of wines are much more suited for the UK palate," said Watson.

Gordon agrees and he has been able to finds wines of the style that he likes since his shop and restaurant opened in 2005. "I look for Pinot Noir that taste like Pinot Noir. Fruit driven wine is what California does best," he said.

James Dodge managing director of the Wine Treasury believes current food trends in the on-trade have helped pave the way for California wines.

"The public is starting to get California. Many of the styles though are not new to California. I think a lot of that is attributed to the success of steak houses in the UK as they have been able to introduce California and get consumers out of their comfort zones. Now the UK public is just getting it," said Dodge.

Oregon equally is doing well. "It really started to pick up in the afternoon," said Doug Wregg, sales and marketing director of the Les Caves de Pyrene.  For Wregg the tasting provided a great opportunity to showcase the Oregon wines they currently have in their portfolio. He said: "We only are showing our Oregon wines today because we like doing a tasting with a focus. That is what people are looking for.

The lighter style Pinot Noirs within Les Caves de Pyrene's portfolio have been doing particularly well in the UK as the wines are more suited to the UK palette.

"We are showing more Pinot Noirs and they will always be more attractive. For us we have had some huge success with our Kelley Fox Wines. Consumers seem less worried about specific brands or that wines are adhering to a particular style," said Wregg.

In addition Wregg believes that Oregon Pinot Noirs are doing well because they don't have to have some of the style stereotypes that other regions currently are fighting against.

"With Oregon in particular, fortunately people don't have any specific perceptions like you may have with wines from perhaps California. Too many perceptions can be dangerous," said Wregg.

Dodge was pleased with the tasting and the appeal that wines from California, Oregon and Washington are having. He said: "Its been a good day and we have seen some really good people. The tasting is great as it showcase the the difference of styles and and wide range of varieties which is really fantastic. It is worth every penny participating in the tasting."