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The Glass Is Half Full: Oregon's Wine Industry Still Economically Full-Bodied Despite Harsh 2020

Kym Ellis

Like many industries, Oregon’s wineries have taken an economic hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. But one owner isn’t crying sour grapes.

Ed King is co-founder of King Estates Winery, south of Eugene. He says there’s been a steady growth curve for wine-related jobs, wages, and revenue that tracks back to 2005.  In its 2019 report, the Oregon Wine Board showed Lane County wineries generated $186 million in revenue, roughly 2,000 jobs (including related and indirect), and nearly $5 million paid in property taxes.

“2020 was a different story and we’re not too surprised," King told KLCC.  "Between the shutdowns, and the economy, and then our wildfires, it really was a triple whammy, going for the Oregon industry. I think the estimates are that things might’ve gone backwards about 20 percent.”

Hardest hit areas include on-premise wine sales and restaurants.  King expects to see Oregon wineries steadily rebound as residents become vaccinated and COVID -19 cases decline.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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