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The Press Deck-12/12/18 ~Strengthening NY's Concord Grape Industry~New Wine App Promises to Revolutionise the Wine Industry~Exploring the Growth of Finger Lakes Wine~“Upper Hudson” Named and Official Vititcultural Area

Field Notes~

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Yesterday, the NYWGF Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting at the Hyatt Riverhead in the Long Island Region. The Board launched our strategic planning process one-year ago when it selected Farm Credit East as our consultant. We earnestly began 2018 with a series of regional focus groups for the strategic plan process that culminated in a board retreat in March. The board officially adopted the new strategic plan at its August meeting in Geneva. Yesterday’s meeting provided everyone an opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments over the past year, and how the strategic plan has energized the Foundation by focusing our attention on what our industry values most. 
At the meeting, we also received an update from our consultant, Campbell Ewald, on their research related to wine tourism in New York. They will be developing a toolkit that documents international best practices and strategies deployed successfully by other wine regions to encourage visitation. The practices and strategies recommended by the toolkit will be coupled with research related to consumer attitudes and perceptions of New York’s grape growing regions and its wines. Their initial research uncovered some promising trends and potential for New York. Here is a summary of their draft results: 
  • Simplification Over Snobbery There is now an entire wine culture that deliberately rejects esotericism in wine and positions itself as the antithesis of wine snobbery—casual, accessible, and above all, fun. People are finding new ways to enjoy wine that fit their lifestyles and tastes. 
  • Experimentation is Welcomed Playing off the trend of simplification, the new wine culture is focused on the consumer experience—helping people find the wine they like and creating new ways to enhance the experience. 
  • The New Rules of Retail The world’s become smaller for the wine drinker. Many countries now offer multi-winery wine clubs, to encourage explore all of the country’s wine offerings. 
  • Wine as a Lifestyle Wine is now more than a drink; it’s a social indicator and lifestyle product. And like all lifestyle products, people want their wine to communicate certain things about them and their lifestyle. 
Key Consumer Research Findings 
Based on an online quantitative study of visitors and prospective visitors(from NY, PA, CT, NJ, VA, ME, MA, VT, OH, NH, MI, DE, or RI) on their opinions of the regions, trails, wineries, tourism, messaging opportunities, and NYS wine itself: 
  • NY wine is preferred to California wine by visitors and is second to California for non-visitors. However, when it came to quality, it is equally regarded and above all other domestic options. 
  • While there’s differences among different age groups and geographies, that NY wine is the labor of love of hard-working NY families appeals to all and feels very ownable. 
  • While NY might be better known for its Riesling among experts, consumers don’t have such narrow notions. The study shows that NY can and should tout its rich wine diversity. 
  • Visitors gave NY wine regions high marks which we can build on. The top two drivers of an ideal winery experience are a beautiful setting with lots to do and an authentic low-key experience. 
  • Everyone’s a wine enthusiast these days, and every age group wants a more casual relationship with wine which includes online. This is a larger mega-trend that NY is well-poised to ride. 
We will have more to share from this project in January as we plan to release the final toolkit, complete with strategies and consumer research. This project is intended to align with our revised mission statement, “The Foundation will promote the world-class image of New York grapes and wines from our diverse regions to responsibly benefit farmers, producers and consumers through innovative marketing, research, communication, and advocacy.” Stay tuned for more exciting news in January as we build on this tourism project to start the process of refreshing our brand identity.
Sam Filler, Executive Director
New York Wine & Grape Foundation