Keep Calm and Drink NYS Wine

This year’s upside-down nature makes some days feel great, other days marginal, and hopefully only a few days confounding and discouraging. I describe it as a mixed-bag year because we have endured the COVID challenges longer than expected by adapting to a new business environment while balancing the loss of tried and true business practices and an uncertain future. I acknowledge the veiled pessimism of my words, however I urge us all to adopt Winston Churchill’s “stubborn optimism.” This mindset refuses to be defeated by the dark clouds surrounding us and instead we double down with determined action to rise to the challenges of our time.

I am grateful for the NYWGF Team and Board because “stubborn optimism” has been their motto since March. They have spent the last six months focused on transforming the organization to respond to the challenges of COVID by developing new programs and services for the new business paradigm. We are excited to work hand-in-hand with the industry to emerge from the current challenges stronger and equipped for success.

We hosted our first virtual tastings for New York Drinks New York on Tuesday with moderators Paul Grieco and Yannick Benjamin. Coming up this Thursday is the first of our webinars for European trade and media that will run monthly from September 2020 through February 2021. Episode 1 titled, “Boldly, Authentic,” will feature Richard Siddle as host along with three export program participants. We also launched new partnerships with Sandra Hess of DTC Wine Workshops and the WISE Academy to provide capacity building services for wineries to elevate their business practices.

Speaking of mixed bags, I know that fruit quality across the state stands out as a bright spot for harvest, however some grapes remain on the vine as they await buyers to provide them winter homes in tanks and barrels. Therefore, I encourage growers expecting losses due to COVID to consider the USDA CFAP program that recently added grapes as an eligible specialty crop. I consider this a positive program change as we wait for Washington to enact further economic stimulus. USDA will accept CFAP 2 applications from September 21, 2020 through December 11, 2020. USDA is holding a CFAP 2 Producer Webinar this week on September 24 at 3:00 PM EDT – Register here.

I think if Churchill were to join FDR for a tour of New York’s grape growing regions today that he would encourage us all to “Keep Calm and Drink NYS Wine,” so September 30th is another opportunity to join Yannick Benjamin for a virtual tasting of New York State wines for a session titled “New York Wines from Corner to Corner.” And, you can find some of your favorite New York wine producers available on

Picture of Sam Filler

Sam Filler

Since his appointment to Executive Director in 2017, Sam Filler has led the New York Wine & Grape Foundation in supporting sustainability efforts and has spearheaded marketing initiatives to elevate the image of New York wines.