A Special Feature for our Current Subscribers Only:
Now available to view on your smart phone or tablet!
Click here to view the full November/December digital issue
(user name and password previously emailed)
From the Publisher
Although we don't often plan themes for each issue of Roast, one emerges from time to time.
For this issue, we focus on collaboration—both within and outside of a company—and even explore the ways in which collaboration with present and future competitors may be beneficial.
To illustrate the power of collaboration, we don’t have to look further than Roast’s own backyard in the Pacific Northwest and the region’s renowned wine industry. Prior to the 1960s, there were zero acres of pinot noir grape planted in Oregon. Zero acres! There aren’t any suitable adjectives to describe the astonishing change that has taken place in the Oregon wine industry during the past 50 years. Even with the numbers laid out in front of me, it’s still hard to believe. Oregon has more than 12,000 acres of pinot noir alone. The state produces more than $250 million in wine revenue each year, employs more than 13,000 people, and the wine industry is responsible for well over $2 billion in economic activity. Remember 1960? There was none, nada, nothing.
The fascinating story of how this industry emerged is detailed in the excellent documentary “Oregon Wine: Grapes of Place,” produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Historical Society. The story is an extremely successful example of the type of “pre-competitive collaboration” that Benjamin Myers discusses in “Shared Interest,” this issue’s feature article (page 40). No single winery—no matter how resourceful or visionary—could have survived, much less thrived, in the industry’s early days. The problems the original dozen or so wineries faced ranged the entire gamut, from planting to production to marketing.
The wine-industry pioneers in Oregon had backgrounds in engineering, liberal arts and agriculture. They were businesspeople and hippies and probably would have looked and felt right at home at a Roasters Guild Retreat. Each of these people brought unique skills together to achieve a common goal—create the highest-quality wines (particularly pinots) that best represented the terroir of the land, in an economically sustainable manner. Sound familiar?
Together, they agreed to establish high standards for the content of vintages and for the accurate representation of appellations. They shared production techniques, harvesting standards and viticulture research. They went on marketing road trips together and even voted to tax themselves to fund these activities. They surveyed and supported groundbreaking legislation to preserve farmland from urban sprawl.
They held a firm belief that, as competitors, their job was to push each other to high quality standards, and that was the only way to establish a market for Oregon wines. And they succeeded beyond belief. They succeeded as individual companies because they collaborated and competed.
Our industry must continue to both collaborate and compete as well. There are an infinite number of levels to this. Local consumer awareness, global sustainability and improved production techniques are areas that are still ripe for pre-competitive collaboration. There is room for small and large organizations to play a role. As Myers so elegantly states in his article, the most important part is to participate.
To purchase the current issue, please proceed to our online shopping cart,
or call 503.282.2399.