Reflecting on Seasons Past

As we turn the page on 2020 and I reflect on the last four years at the helm of NYWGF, I fondly remember my anticipation building in December 2016 as I prepared to join the NYWGF team in January. I received an invitation to join in a Finger Lakes tradition, the NYS Wine Grape Growers Association’s (NYSWGG) annual holiday party. That year it was hosted at the Elk’s Lodge in Penn Yan. I attended with the State’s craft beverage guru Stefan Fleming, and I remember that a hearty spaghetti dinner was served.

More importantly, NYSWGG used the occasion to recognize Jim Trezise for his 30+ years of dedication to the New York State grape and wine industry. Jim appropriately received a “roast” from many friends and colleagues as they shared funny and memorable stories about Jim’s tenure. Jim was presented a vintage UNCORK New York plaque by then NYSWGG President Peter Martini, and grape growing stalwarts and longtime NYSWGG Board Members, Donna and Louis Gridley.

For me, the “roast” became a valuable history lesson as I learned about the origins of NYWGF and the struggles the industry faced in the early 1980s. Through the determined efforts of those involved NYSWGG then, they were able to recruit Jim to Finger Lakes to lead the precursor of what eventually became NYWGF. Jim worked alongside the grape growers to petition Governor Mario Cuomo and the State Legislature to create the legal framework and provide the initial funding for what became NYWGF in 1985.

NYWGF would not exist today without the efforts of the state’s grape growers. We owe them a debt of gratitude for believing in the viability of the industry during a difficult financial time. Without the grape growers, there would be no award-winning wines, delicious grape juice with morning breakfast, and mouth-watering table grapes on an early fall day. The grape growers are the heart of our industry, so please salute them with me when you enjoy your favorite fermented or non-fermented grape juice beverage over the holidays with your family.

We are proud to be the continued stewards of funding that supports critical grape and wine research every year. NYWGF grants are dedicated to projects that provide the New York State industry with short-term solutions and long-term strategic directions. Click here for a list of previously funded projects. In fact, the Research Committee of the Board of Directors is now welcoming new proposals for 2021. Proposals will be due by January 25th, 2021. Please click here to learn more and apply for funding.

This will be the last Field Notes editorial for 2020. We will be on press holiday through the end of the year. We look forward to a fresh start next January and I hope to join my friends at NYSWGG again at their 2021 holiday party.

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.