​How New York Wine Is Popping Up on Menus in Japan, the U.K., and Denmark

There are more than 400 wineries in New York, and they are garnering increasingly enthusiastic raves from national critics at Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, The New York Times and others. And thanks to an innovative program, and the hard work of winemakers willing to travel and share their story, the good word on New York’s incredible wines is spreading across the globe.

How it Works 

The New York Wine & Grape Foundation offers programs and services specifically dedicated to telling the story of New York’s wineries and growers. For those wineries interested in reaching a global audience outside of the states, NYWGF offers the New York Wines Export Program.

NYWGF, with funding from the USDA and guidance from its Export Advisory Committee (industry members) and international marketing representatives, executes this program each year. The Export Program identifies target markets, which currently include Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam, and allows NYWGF to partner with marketing representatives ‘on the ground’ to implement activities abroad. The program works to connect New York wineries with importers, on-and-off trade buyers, media, and tastemakers in each region, ultimately resulting in increased brand recognition and sales for New York Wines. 

Wineries in the Export Program take part in virtual tastings, inbound & outbound Trade Missions, and virtual and in-person meetings with critics and journalists. Dozens of wineries have enrolled in the program, and several have found that the program delivered unexpected opportunities.

Global Brand Recognition

Since 1979, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard has been pioneering premium winemaking in the Finger Lakes. With 90 acres of prime vineyards perched on the western slopes of Seneca Lake, the winery has become synonymous with excellence—for those in the know.

Thankfully, that circle of knowledge is growing, says co-owner Oskar Bynke.

“We started our export program about 10 years ago, with just Belgium and Japan,” Bynke says. “Now we’re also in Sweden, Canada and England. For us, the biggest motivation has been brand recognition. We want to be playing and competing in the same field as other major regions.”

Having a presence abroad also gives New York wineries access to international journalists who can pen reviews of their wines, confident that readers will actually be able to go out and buy them.

“We have been able to travel internationally and meet major players in the wine world,” he notes. “Sometimes the meetings give fruit five years later, when they come here and visit us. It’s led to placements in restaurants. I heard from a relative recently who had been traveling in Japan and found our wine being sold by the glass at a restaurant he went to.”

The program, he says, “opens doors that wouldn’t be open otherwise.”

Unexpected International Coverage Coups

Hosmer Estate Winery is the fruit of multiple generations of the Hosmer family’s hard work, starting with the purchase of land in 1930, which became the Patrician Verona Vineyard in 1972. In 1985, after more than a decade of growing and selling grapes, the Hosmers decided to go into the wine themselves.

When winemaker Julia Hoyle joined Hosmer in 2016, she says that the team there was focused on selling their wine locally, after venturing out into the national market in the 1990s, and quickly deciding the effort to grow wasn’t worth the cost.

“But we realized that if we wanted to not just build our brand, but share the story of New York wine more broadly, we had to get back out there,” Hoyle says. “We opted into the Export Program, and they made it really easy for us. There were on-the-ground and sample programs and we quickly connected with importers who wanted our wine.”

Currently, she says Hosmer is enjoying the most success in Canada, the U.K. and Denmark.

“Having our wine abroad has led to other unexpected opportunities,” Hoyle notes. “When Jancis Robinson was doing a women’s day dinner focused on women winemakers, someone recommended our Riesling Ice Wine. She ended up serving it at the dinner. That was really, really cool, and it never would have happened otherwise.”

Growing Greater Opportunities Abroad

Wölffer Estate Vineyard has been producing award-winning wines (and more recently, ciders and spirits) since 1988 in Sagaponack, while also building a reputation for innovation and hospitality.

Winemaker Roman Roth says that NYWGF’s Export Program has enabled them to share their story and vision in unexpected places.

“We met the person who ended up being our distributor in Denmark at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation booth at Prowein,” Roth says. “We are now in nine countries and are actively looking to expand.”

Next in sight? The U.K. and France.  

“The program is important for all New York wines,” Roth says. “It allows us to be seen and get more exposure. This leads to more distribution and sales.”

Currently, while California makes about 85% of the country’s wine, it is responsible for more than its share of exports—about 95%, according to Wine America. More New York wineries abroad will be good for people thirsty for American cool climate wine, the wineries and the state. To learn more about NYWGF’s Export Program go here.

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Kathleen Willcox and Robin Shreeves

Kathleen Willcox and Robin Shreeves

Kathleen Willcox and Robin Shreeves' work frequently appears in Wine Enthusiast, Wine Searcher, Wine Industry Advisor, Liquor.com and many other publications. They co-founded Thinking Outside the Bottle, which provides communications services to the drinks industry.