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May 08, 2007

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I'll join this rant. All of the same applies to the Finger Lakes and surrounding areas. Actually, Ithaca is probably a lot better than Syracuse but I can't help but think of the impact that could be made if more of our local restaurants carried local wine. Elderberry Pond Farm Restaurant in Auburn has an excellent list that is mostly Finger Lakes with a few California and French bottles--and one LI if I remember correctly. The Stone Cat Cafe in Hector is also good at this--but they should be, they have a tasting room attached to their building and stellar wineries up the road on the east side of Seneca Lake.

I also think part of it is demand. Like you, I make it a point to tell restaurants of the good local wines that I'd recommend for their lists or I'll simply ask why they don't have any listed. The most common answer is that it is a distribution issue (an area I'm sorely ignorant about) but I can't believe it is easier to get wine from Australia than to have it driven 40 miles up the road.

I'm also advocating for a tasting room in downtown Syracuse for when you just can't get to Keuka Lake. There should be a Vintage New York wine store in all of the NY wine Regions, not just the Hudson Valley or Soho.

Very well put, and applies to any up and coming wine region. I think local wineries will find most restaurants are dying to get good local wines on their lists because of the value added (see the 4th point.) The only other thing I would add is to be aware that a good by-the-glass program can turn any restaurant into an extension of your tasting room.

I think the mark-up issue is key. Since many local wineries do not produce the same bulk as their Australian and Californian counterparts, the price is higher. Restaurants seem to want to keep the mark-up rates fairly universal, so the consumer is left with choosing a decent and reliable Californian wine at $40 or taking a chance with a local wine at $60. That many choose the former is quite understandable.

I spoke to a beverage manager at a local (Syracuse) Wine Spectator list restuarant, and he told me that they always assume to mark up the wines at about the same rate unless they are persuaded otherwise by market forces. A sure-fire Bordeaux will receive this adjustment if it doesn't sell, but I'm sure local wines are simply dropped from the list since it is sometimes unclear which deserve a chance to sell at an adjusted price and which simply will not please the consumer no matter what price is asked.

I do think advocacy on the part of the winery is key. Without human-to-human contact, a restaurant is not likely to treat a given wine any differently. Like most people, I'm sure a restaurant's wine guy would be more willing to make slightly less money on a local wine if he knows that he's supporting a great local product. Goodness knows the old stand-bys (French, Californian, Australian) will always sell well.

The whole subject of markups just highlights the issue of self-distribution by wineries to local markets. In California we are able to do this, and we price our wine for the local restaurants and stores a small delta above the price we sell to distributors. This lets the restaurants (especially) set a decent markup for themselves that stays not too far above the MSRP. Without self-dist. an unnecessary middleperson takes a cut for doing nothing (see Virginia too) which has the negative result of soaking the consumer...

Another great thing many of our local restaurants do is waive corkage on local wines. This creates a different synergy since wineries are more likely to recommend those restaurants... hopefully the same thing can happen in Long Island, perhaps with some co-promotional activities.

Can't agree more. Living in NYC when ever I go out to a nice dinner I ask waiter if they have any LI wines and most of the time it is just to bust balls as they don't and my wife is pretty sick of it. Unfortunately the response is usually becasue they don't have the demand....now the idiots at the liquor store have a different response but that is a another story.

My wife owns a wine shop in Putnam County NY and we have been trying to find the NY distributors of Ex Libris Cab of Washington State. We have a customers that want it any one know the name?

Mark

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