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January 27, 2011


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Kudos to Carlo for his initiative. The deeper in the whole our state gets, the more compelling the argument to invest what money we can in the businesses that are actually growing. Great post, Evan.

What have we here?

Imagine one's own life and within which aspiring to create a path towards a better future and for all. For me, that would not be imaginable without my partners in life. In the Finger Lakes we have many partners. More than 100 wineries. Many more than 100 lives. Virtually none of them has been involved in this proposition. How ridiculous! How disappointing. There is much more to be said here. But that requires time and reflection.

I know Carlo Devito to be an entrepreneur. He sees a need to raise awareness for NY wines, he invests his own time to create an idea, and he puts it into play.

Unfortunately the idea might polarize as many people as it inspires.

We all work darn hard to make and market the best wine we can. We all seek to grow our businesses profitably and sustainably. I think we get further ahead if we work together to maximize market opportunities in New York City and beyond.

We should welcome all ideas and evaluate each on their merits and the risk they pose.

These ideas should not be polarizing. If you are upset because you don't feel included, you have to get by that. There are over 300 wineries in the state. Carlo did a great job of assembling existing and new ideas into a compelling plan that is actionable. Winery meetings were, no doubt, a part of this information gathering.

The fact is that "putting it out there" is the best way to gain feedback and support. Take a look at the ideas, comment on the ideas and let’s work together to market NY wines. I am pretty sure that's what he meant when he said in his post:

"I am sure the idea will morph and change as the conversation widens, but we thought if we didn't push, then nothing would happen.... I hoped more voices might help force a bigger conversation, and help get the support our industry needs to move forward in a competitive way."

The document is clearly a work in progress and he is asking for feedback and involvement. So send comments to Carlo, or better yet get involved in the process. I think it is great that he took the imitative to put this together. I can't criticize a busy winery owner for putting an idea out there before speaking with everyone.


It seems Winter is the time to immerse ourselves in creative thinking, as we idle, waiting for our workload to disabuse us as the weather warms up.

You will recall that about a year ago we had such a discussion on this blog. I followed it with contacting about 30 different wineries making the case for an industry wide effort not unlike what you are advocating. I then went to the Rochester conference to have a face to face conversation with many of our colleagues. There was in general polite interest but the net of it was that it did not seem to be a priority for most of our colleagues.

There are those who are happy to continue with the NYW&GF as it is. There are those who are happy with their wine trails and the programs they are implementing. There are those who are happy to do their own thing. And there is not yet the widespread need to make radical changes. We can argue back and forth but the reality is that our industry is not focused on such a transformation now.

I have advocated previously that the best that the NYW&GF can do for us with its limited budget is to provide education in marketing, so that a useful dialog can emerge as to the needs of our industry.

What are we to do? I agree with Peter Caroll that we should count on ourselves not on Government. Much of the reason for our lethargy is that most wineries have come into this business within the model that says that the NYW&GF will guide them. Since its funding has been erratic so has been its performance.
But the dependency has establsished itself.

In the meantime, it is best to continue our individual efforts and strengthen the breakthroughs that many of us are experiencing. This means we must continue to improve wine quality and continue to grow the footprint of our market penetration and our reputation. It is going to take a while before the rest begin to notice. In the absence of any strong leadership at the state level, we have to lead by our example. There may come a time when those marketing leaders may colaborate with each other and that may spark what is needed to get to a state wide effort.

For now we must be as successful as we can be, individually.

If there is energy to work with the state it is best directed at simplifying the onerous and cumbersome compliance system that is an impediment to our growth.

Please note that, in the interest of a unified conversation, we've decided to close comments on this post and continue the exchange on our follow-up post:


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