New York Wine & GrapeNews



Field Notes: New York Wines - Boldly, Evolving!

Robert Ketchin

Category: Industry

Field Notes...

From Robert Ketchin, Ketchin Marketing

Merriam Webster says EVOLUTION is the process by which new species or populations of living things develop from pre-existing forms through successive generations.  
Alternatively, from a business perspective, EVOLUTION is a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state: simple said as GROWTH or UNFOLDING.
It has been over 25 years since I had the pleasure of first working with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation team and the early pioneers of the New York wine industry. In fact, I can even go back over forty years to the mid seventies when I had the pleasure of visiting Dr Konstantin Frank and tasted vinifera wines with Dr Frank from tanks and barrels in his barn!
Since those early days I have had the privilege to work alongside so many of you as owners, winemakers, sales and marketing specialists. During this time I have learned to appreciate the nuances and differences of New York’s wine regions and the unique qualities and styles of varietal wines that nature weaves hand in hand with their creators. Striving for perfection, passionate to achieve the pinnacle of “Best Wine in Class” or a 90+ score or perhaps much more rewarding just a few simple words “I love this wine”! 
Deep down I can appreciate that it has not been easy and that the commitment and hardship of owning a winery is extremely demanding on all your lives - financing, cash flow, staffing, weather effect of frosts, floods, drought, and the ups and downs of the economy and tourism…. all impacting the bottom line. 
The biggest conundrum however must be the product …. THE WINE! What should I grow, what style should I make it, what should my label look like, where is the consumer at, who is my target market, do I focus on farm gate or sell into the urban cities or even consider export? All major questions that continue to challenge us as the demographics change and consumer tastes for wine EVOLVE!  
Since the mid 60’s New York wineries have planted and replanted several times. Labrusca to French American Hybrid to Vinifera and now one more time to the ideal vinifera for the current wine lover. Examples would be Chardonnay out and Rose in! Pinot Noir less and Syrah or Cab Franc more.
As the boomers retire and the Gen X and millennials develop their palate for fine wines we need to be constantly on the move to appeal and compete in each of the wine categories with the right wine and THE RIGHT LABEL! 
Like fashion and design, always on the move, the next generation millennials are quickly changing things up... from lifestyle to politics to traditional practices of wine purchasing. So, we must adjust our images, stories, product styles and perceived value to be compelling and meet their expectations. New York wineries and industry are doing that and more, both individually and collectively. 
Kudos  to the FLXcursion team - for daring to invite the world to compare and taste our New York Rieslings in the same arena as the very best Rieslings of the world, Mosel, Alsace, Oregon, Australia, and Ontario. For daring to open our wineries to host amazing master classes and gourmand lunches. For daring to put our restaurants on notice to host and entertain the best of the world wine media and sommeliers.  


Kudos  to the wineries that have stepped up to share their wines and ship samples to Ontario Canada for an LCBO buyers / wine media / sommelier tasting recently. Not giving up and still believing that we can build the NY wine category together in Ontario. I was extremely proud of showcasing your wines and I had the pleasure of receiving many compliments. Whatever transpires it is a brave step and one we can be very proud of, please take a moment and be proud with me. 


Kudos  to your leaders at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation for bravely stepping out and asking the best designers in New York state to come forward with new ideas on branding New York Wines. To compete in the global wine world today, New York must collectively and individually step up and shift your image if you are going to be heard and respected by the next generation of wine lovers.
The new branding, "Boldly, NY.” is a big step in the EVOLUTION of the New York wine image, appealing locally to 20 million New Yorkers, as well as wine enthusiasts around the world. Evolution is change… an unfolding! 
New York, you are now free of the shackles of tradition and familiarity. Welcome to the world of creativeness and inspiration and the exciting times ahead as we embrace the millennials. 

Robert Ketchin, Ketchin Marketing

Representing New York Wines in Canada