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The Press Deck - 10/16/2019 | Field Notes: Framing the Wine Sale...

Field Notes...

From Paul Brady, Brand Ambassador

Framing the Wine Sale...

When a winery owner, winemaker, or tasting room staff is faced with a consumer or member of the trade who asserts a preference for a style of wine that their winery may not produce, it can admittedly be a bit frustrating. Learning how to decode that preference and frame a winery's offerings through that buyer’s lens is a useful tool, and I’ve seen it in action – and it results in sales. If this is not an ability that has yet been developed by everyone on your staff, we invite you to consider re-exploring the following options as a way for them to expand those valuable skills. 


Understanding most current wine circle’s buying preferences can, in one part, be further understood through recognizing benchmarks throughout the global industry of wine. Having a sense of how wines produced from grapes like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, or chardonnay from elsewhere in the world, what their structural identity is, and how they are typically priced, would be a good place to begin. Learning to taste wine for the purpose of assessing quality and identity takes time and dedication, but there are a few easily accessible outlets for such learning. 

Tasting Groups

Tasting groups abound in wine circles and at all levels. Being in a tasting group is like having a gym membership – sometimes life gets in the way and we forget to make use of it, so whether you’re joining a tasting group for the first time, or are already in one that has been meeting regularly and likely already has a curriculum in place, or if you’re starting one from scratch, it’s important to have focus and to be open to wines from all corners of the world. No one in 2019 is asserting that we only need-be tasting wines made from, say, noble Bordeaux grapes. But, having that classical understanding of what has been considered cannon will only help further sharpen your palate and understanding of where our New York wines sit in terms of a global, quality-identity. When involved with wine marketing or production, it can be very helpful to taste our own region’s wines in the company of those from places with an equal or longer history. Consider looking for multiple tasting groups -- it’s important to taste with those at your level, but also with anyone at a higher level for learning purposes. And as you advance, you’ll then be able to teach those around you who may just be beginning. 

Taste with Winemakers

Luckily in this community, many of us can spend time at wineries and with winemakers. Tasting with like-minded front-of-house wine professionals is valuable but tasting with winemakers is opportune. Drinkers have preferences (types of oak aging, fermentations, levels of sugar, etc.) and tasting with winemakers is ideal for learning about those fine details. While at a winery, perhaps ask to taste a barrel sample of wine from American oak versus wine from French oak; or a tank sample of wine from grapes from a certain block of a vineyard versus another block. These closely detailed lessons with winemakers are really what makes any “civilian” a better, more experienced taster, and therefore better equipped to make on-the-fly decisions when guests inquire about potential wines of a specific style. Do what you must get those VIP tastings with your favorite winemakers.

Certification Courses  

Without question the most expensive option, though highly accredited, would be to enroll in one of the various wine certification sequences, such as the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), CMS (Court Of Master Sommeliers), or those available at colleges and universities (and there are more). And more and more now, we’re evening seeing consumers putting themselves through certified sommelier exams. Again, these types of survey curriculums will offer a broad and international approach to learning to taste and understand wine. I spoke to winery owner Shannon Brock, of Silver Thread Vineyards in the Finger Lakes, about her take on having earned the WSET Diploma: 
“As a producer/owner of a winery since 2011, my WSET training continues to help. First, many buyers are graduates or students of the WSET program and we can easily form a connection based on that shared experience (even though our day-to-day lives are very different). Secondly, it allows me to compare our Finger Lakes wines to other benchmark styles from around the world that they might be familiar with. Thirdly, it helps me appropriately price our wines to stay competitive with similar styles that compete with our wines.” 
So then if a consumer or member of the trade walks into Silver Thread and expresses their love of the wines of Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France, Shannon, as a WSET Diploma graduate, would know that the guest likes wines from the chenin blanc grape. And while there is not much chenin blanc planted yet in New York, a good alternative could be perhaps an unoaked chardonnay or even a Riesling with some sweetness, if the guest enjoys sweeter Vouvray. Well-rounded training will teach confidence when it comes to offerings. 
August Deimel, winemaker at Keuka Spring Vineyards and a WSET disciple (and on the path to Master Of Wine) is also poised during trade visits under trial-by-fire circumstances. So, if a guest walks in a says, “I like to drink natural wines, do you have any?” By being up to speed on tasting and industry trends, August recognizes that natural wine is a vast category encompassing not only grape growing and winemaking practices, but also a range of stylings that sometimes includes simply what is new and exciting, or unfamiliar. At Keuka Spring, in that case, he may offer a wine made from the lesser-known Vignoles grape; or an un-oaked Lemberger… Ideally what will not happen is the loss of an otherwise potential sale.
“It’s a delicate balance to figure out what someone is looking for when you’re not absolutely sure,” August says. “So, understand what you have that they could groove on, if framed right.” 
A fluent familiarity on wine from a global perspective can seem daunting, but it’s never been so easily within our grasp, whether it’s for you the wine drinker or winery employee, it can help with both the buying and the selling.

Paul Brady, Brand Ambassador

New York Wine & Grape Foundation

Industry News...

E-Commerce And Wine Clubs Will Overtake Tasting Room Sales, Says New Survey

wine bottles While tech executives flock to  Esalen  to discover their humanity and how to apply it to technology,  Wine Direct  (WD) views technology as the future for wine retailing.   WD offers what it calls its inaugural  Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) Wine Sales Report , the result of a survey of 1,200 wineries representing over $1 billion in DtC sales across the U.S., Canada and Australia. The report digs into transactional data, mobile volume sales and an analysis of wine club, tasting room and overall online sales . Read more.

Meaghan Frank: A 4th Generation Frank Takes the Reins

When you are running a family business, succession becomes an issue sooner or later. Finger Lakes wineries, which tend to be small family-run affairs, are no different. Wine families such as Fulkerson, Hazlitt and Hunt are already in their sixth or seventh generations of management, while others were sold off due to lack of an heir or lack of interest from the next generation. For Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, the day-to-day running of the winery is now in the hands of Meaghan Frank, the great-granddaughter of Konstantin. Read more .

Columbus Day Weekend in the Finger Lakes

During a visit to Dr. Konstantin Frank winery last weekend, I couldn't help but overhear the staff member who answered the phone. He repeatedly advised callers that Columbus Day weekend is the busiest in the Finger Lakes, and they were well advised to make group reservations well in advance of their visit. If you are among the people who will visit the Finger Lakes over the weekend, here are some suggestions. Read more .

More headlines...

Veraison to Harvest Update # 6

Member Corner...

Access to Capital: Food, Beverage, and Agricultural Enterprises

Thursday, October 24, 2019 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM EDT Are you in the food, beverage, or agricultural industry in New York City? On Thursday, October 24th, attend a FREE workshop sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Department of Agriculture & Markets, Hot Bread Kitchen, SlowMoney NYC, Hana Kitchens, Bronx Cookspace (WHEDCO), the Entrepreneur Space and Brooklyn Small Business Development Center.

Get the inside perspective from experts about:

  • How to deliver your pitch and be attractive in the eyes of a lender
  • What type of financing is most appropriate for you
  • What lenders look for in potential borrowers
  • Alternatives to traditional bank loans

Lunch will be provided. The event is free but registration is required. Register here.

Join us for the 2019 EnoCert 202

Monday, November 11, 2019 How are tasting room sales different than bottle shop sales? And how can tasting room staff connect with guests to create the most enjoyable and educational experience? Understanding guests’ interests, motivations, and needs is essential to increasing sales and creating customer loyalty. In EnoCert 202, New York Wine and Grape Foundation’s Education & Member Services Manager, Julie Purpura Hosbach, teams up with the Cornell Enology Extension Lab to teach tasting room personnel how to engage guests in a fun and profitable tasting room experience.  Through lectures and collaborative exercises, Julie will show how accepted wine jargon can both help and hurt wine sales, the sometimes surprising factors that influence number of bottles bought, and how to engage guests to create a fun and profitable tasting room experience. Lessons will draw on classic consumer psychology and research specific to New York and regional tasting rooms. EnoCert 202 will be taught on Monday, 11 November in the newly renovated Pilot Plant wing of the Food Research Laboratory at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY, and can be counted as credit for the Cornell Tasting Room Educator certificate. We look forward to seeing you there!  Register here.

Year-End Business Check Up for Wineries and Vineyards

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT Join us with out Business Associate Member Mengler, Metzger, & Barr, led by Tony Sandonato. This course will provide guidance on year-end strategies that winery and vineyard owners should focus on in terms of tax planning opportunities and preparation for a smooth tax filing season, best practices for maintain accurate financial records, and ways to maximize a strong financial position heading into the slower winter months. Register here.

Save the Date: U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit East

May 5-6, 2020 North Fork of Long Island, NY
Who:  A gathering of regional winery and vineyard associations, engaged grower and vintner leaders, and others committed to the sustainability of their local vineyards, wineries and regions.
What:  Learn some of the driving forces behind the increasing interest in sustainable winegrowing. Be inspired with new ideas on how to bring sustainability education and outreach to your region’s vineyards and wineries. 
Why:  Together we can enhance the sustainability of all U.S. vineyards and wineries and credibly communicate the nationwide commitment to a global audience.
Visit   for more details or contact  with questions.

New York Wine Classic Pairing Dinners

wine bottle illustration

Don't miss our New York Wine Classic "Best of Class" Winners paired with a delicious five course dinner at The Marshal in Manhattan on October 23rd, at 6:30PM. 

Almost 900 wines were entered into the 34th Annual New York Wine Classic on August 6-7th, 2019. The five Best of Class winners, including Governor's Cup and Winery of the Year, are:

Cost: $110 per person. Members Save $15.00 per ticket. Email Julie Hosbach, Education & Member Services Manager, for the coupon code to enter when you order tickets online.

*Additional pairing dinners will be held in Utica and Albany in November.

Buy Your Tickets!

Don't miss our New York Wine Classic "Best of Class" Winners paired with a delicious five course dinner at The Tailor & The Cook in Utica, NY on November 5, 2019 at 5:00pm.
The Tailor & The Cook is farm to table: "Obtaining local products is of utmost importance to us. Sourcing ingredients from neighboring farms allows us to serve the freshest possible dishes, promote the local economy, reduce our carbon footprint, and ensure the food we serve is produced with methods we support. We believe that choosing local food enhances the environmental and economic health of our community." They carry only New York wines and are the honorary recipient of our 2019 Restaurant of the Year award!
Cost: $100 per person. Members Save $10.00 per ticket.  Email  Julie Hosbach, Education & Member Services Manage r, for the coupon code to enter when you order tickets online.
*Additional pairing dinners will be held in Albany and Long Island. Stay tuned!