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Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - Page updated at 06:37 AM

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Oregon Wine Grape Production Hits Record

Associated Press Writer

Oregon produced and crushed a record amount of grapes in 2007, the third year in a row it has hit such highs.

Experts say it's the result of the right mix of good weather and demand for Oregon wine.

"I think it's just another impressive figure to show the continued growth in Oregon," said Chris Mertz, director of the Oregon Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, which compiled the report.

Oregon wineries sold 1.7 million cases of wine for $207.8 million in 2007. But there is still unmet demand, the report found, particularly for mature grapes such as pinot noir.

"Oregon wines have never been more popular around the world," said Ted Farthing, executive director of the Oregon Wine Board, which represents the state's wineries.

Pinot noir and pinot gris production both increased by 15 percent. Cabernet sauvignon production increased by 33 percent.

The growth in production doesn't mean quality will drop, Farthing said. The yield, which is often considered a measure of quality, has grown in pace with the acreage planted.

"If you talk to winery owners one-on-one they talk about quality, quality, quality," Farthing said. "To me, it is continuing a very thoughtful trend of responsible, steady growth."

Prices for Oregon wine go up each year, Farthing said, but it's a difficult thing to measure because of the variety across wineries.

The continued good harvests are a relief after weaker harvests in 2004 and 2005 that hindered growers and winemakers.

Growing conditions in 2007 enabled yields of 2.8 tons per acre of grapes.

Oregon's 370 wineries reported producing wine under 442 labels. The number of wineries has grown, but most remain small.

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