New York Wine & GrapeNews
The Press Deck - 2/7/18 ~ Preparing the Labor Force ~ Grapes Can Help Depression ~ NWGI Research Priorities ~ Year of the Concord
Field Notes: Preparing the Labor Force ~ Grapes Can Help Depression ~ NWGI Research Priorities ~ Year of the Concord ~ NY in the News
Last week, I grabbed lunch with Dr. Robert Nye, President of Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC), and Mike Nozzolio, Former State Senator and a partner at Harris Beach. We got together to discuss how the New York Wine & Grape Foundation can work with FLCC to expand the impact of its FLCC Viticulture and Wine Center for the New York grape and wine industry. Senator Nozzolio was responsible for securing funding from the State to support the center's construction.The FLCC Viticulture and Wine Center houses a two-year associate in applied science degree program in viticulture and wine technology. The program provides future wine industry professionals the opportunity to learn where some of the most advanced agricultural research is taking place.
Before the Christmas break, I had the opportunity to visit the center and meet with Paul Brock, Assistant Professor and co-owner of Silver Thread Vineyard. The center impressed me with its state of the art wine making equipment, modern laboratory facilities, and comfortable classroom space. The center even features its own tasting room space that is used to highlight the vintage made by the students each year. Their 2015 GatherRiesling won Best Limited Production Wine at the 2016 NY Wine and Food Classic.
Paul shared with me an exciting partnership that they have with FLCC's graphic design students to design the label for the Center's vintage each year, which was a feature story in the November 2017 issue of 585 Mag.
Did you know that The State Law that created NYWGF in 1985Download proscribes that NYWGF activities should fulfill a public purpose to "...reduce agricultural unemployment?" Dr. Nye, Senator Nozzolio, and I agreed that there is tremendous value investing in workforce development and creating a pipeline of trained workers for the grape and wine industry. United together and leveraging the strengthens of each partner will only improve how we all serve the industry.
The topic of workforce development surfaced at our Finger Lakes strategic planning focus groups that were held in Geneva last Friday. Over 60 grape growers and winery owners participated, and they identified the availability of trained/qualified labor as a constraint on the industry's growth. Yesterday we hosted a focus group with Niagara wineries and they also raised the issue of labor as a threat to their business. It seems likely that the NYWGF, working together with partners like FLCC, NCCC, TC3, the Wine and Culinary Center, Cornell, RIT, and other educational/workforce development partners, could do something to address an obvious industry need.
Sam Filler, Executive Director