Sen. Merkley calls for investigation of California wine labeled as Oregonian

(KTVL/Georgia Lawson).PNG

Senator Merkley has called on the federal government to investigate California winery Copper Cane for what he says is deceptive advertising that hurts the Oregon wine industry.

When it comes to wine, being local is not just about what's on the label.

There's where the grapes are grown, where the product is vinified, and where the wine is bottled.

But Senator Merkely says that California-based Copper Cane has disregarded those steps in labeling it's wine as Oregonion.

"It's a compliment that California's wine maker is trying to make their wine in Oregon because it's good marketing. It's good marketing because of the quality of our product. We don't want the California wine makers to hide behind the Oregon label," says Sen. Merkley.

Sen. Merkely has asked the federal government to investigate whether copper cane broke the law in labeling it's wine with Oregon names despite being processed in California.

And Oregon wine makers agree that local is critical.

"I think it's important to keep things local to grow the industry, grow the area," says Dick Ellis, owner of Pebblestone Cellars. "This is a great area and I think 15 to 20 years ago nobody knew about us,"

Ellis says when he got here in 2003 there were only a handful of wineries and vineyards in all of southern Oregon.

Despite significant expansion since then, there's still room to grow.

"There's still a lot of people who don't know about us, so it's to our advantage to our advantage to actually produce the wines and have them identified on the label and sold across the country as wines that were actually made here, not wines that were made in California from our grapes," Ellis says.

Ellis says that wine is becoming a big attraction for visitors to the region.

Ensuring Oregon wines are in fact Oregon wines becomes critical for the integrity of the industry and the health of the region.

You can read the full letter sent by Sen. Merkley to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau here.

Additional, separate coverage on Copper Cane can be found here.

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