I remember early in my career working in New York’s farm based beverage industry a conversation that I had with Chris Gerling at an introduction to distilling workshop at Catskill Distilling Company. Admittedly, I was super green behind the ears when it came to wine making and really any fermentation process. Chris properly schooled me when he simply described how to make a quality wine, “You can’t make good wine from bad grapes, but you can make bad wine from good grapes.” Reading between the lines, he helped me deduce that quality winemaking starts in the vineyard.
As I reflected in a Field Notes at the end of 2020, the source of New York’s international reputation starts with our grape growers and the Foundation would not exist without their audacious spirit to form this organization in the 1980s. The Team and I at the Foundation intend to dedicate more of our focus this year to the grower community. We want to better serve and listen to the most essential part of our industry. The success and vitality of the growers directly influences the overall health of our industry.
My first Fireside Chat of the year will be held next Thursday at 4pm and the conversation will be focused on New York’s grower community. I will be joined by members of the NYWGF Board who are growers themselves. We have updated some grower member benefits in the past year, and we are refining plans on how to incorporate growers into our new marketing campaign. We want to use this conversation as an opportunity to get more feedback and make sure our benefits are as valuable as possible. We would like to gather grower feedback on: 1) most valuable current NYWGF benefits; 2) needs, wants, and ideas from other associations for future benefits; and 3) feedback on how to better market our growers.
We also plan to support growers by launching a vineyard sustainability certification program this year. We are pleased to announce that the Foundation is partnering with the strategy firm Capalino, to build a business plan to launch the program. Capalino will work with the Foundation to develop a clear strategic direction, program design, and five-year plan to ensure that this program is self-sustaining and sustainable throughout the state.
Not sure if I can claim that I have sustainably retained my grape industry knowledge. After 8 years in the industry, I think that Chris Gerling would argue that my viticulture and enology knowledge has marginally improved, and I should probably start sharpening my pencils for the 2021 B.E.V. NY conference to be held March 4-6. So, I look forward to seeing some of you on my Fireside Chat and then virtually at B.E.V. NY 2021 as we diligently work together to elevate the reputation of the New York industry.