• Guest comment: Mr. DeVito goes to Albany

25 Jan

The writer is co-owner of the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, Columbia County. An earlier commentary of his, “Who Will Save the Wineries?,” was published on this site.

By Carlo DeVito
Yesterday I went to Albany today to sound out about a dozen or so assemblymen and state senators, as well as with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff, to discuss spending more money on New York wine instead of less.

I did this as a furtherance of my essay “It’s Time We Had a Conversation” to discuss why the Legislature couldn’t give New York wineries more money. My argument was the same as it was in that essay — the state’s wine industry, under New York Wine & Grape Foundation President Jim Trezise’s tutelage, grew tremendously, but the industry still is grossly under-supported, especially in the face of such well-armed competitors as Italy, France, Spain, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia.

In fact, it was the Virginia model I used specifically, to ask for additional funds — suggesting that the money come from something like “I Love New York| to establish a New York Wine Council to augment the NYWGF. We praised the NYWGF. I suggested that it was underfunded and that it receive additional funds, but that a new entity whose sole charge would be to brand New York wine be established. I suggested it should be a separate entity, but that Jim Trezise should very much be involved in it, and that there should be a synergy between the two.

Not one person I met with thought the idea was a bad one, but admittedly fiscal concerns this year make this a tough discussion. It is only a plan, a suggestion, a beginning. I am not sure in these tough economic times it is feasible. But New York wine, as it has grown and matured, now remains an undeveloped oyster, a great economic engine in New York’s arsenal. It is time to begin that conversation. I am sure the idea will morph and change as the conversation widens, but if we don’t push nothing will happen.

I don’t know much about politics. The arena makes me uncomfortable. But, 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.

To that end, the following wineries support this “white paper” —

Amici Vineyards
Arrowhead Vineyard
Brookview Station Winery
Brotherhood Winery
Eagle Crest Vineyards
Eveningside Vineyards
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards
Hudson-Chatham Winery

Whitecliff Vineyard

If you would like to add your support by adding your name to this list, please e-mail me. Additional information and commentaries are available on my blog.
Check out my New York Drinks Events Calendar, the most comprehensive you’ll find anywhere.


Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Commentary


2 responses to “• Guest comment: Mr. DeVito goes to Albany

  1. Pieter Ruig

    January 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I just returned from a self-funded trip to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, pressing aggressively the important advantages of NY wine. The reception was extraordinarily positive and verified my belief that NY wine could be successful in both HK and the Mainland. The marketing approach would be need to be carefully designed as each market is entirely different.

    The opportunity is enormous for NY wine and I have been trying to get the NYS government through the International Trade Development office to provide some assistance with respect to promoting NY wines. Along with the terrific support of the US Commercial Service of the US Department of Commerce, I am trying to interest NYS in putting together a trade mission headed by either the Governor or Lt Governor or some other top NYS official. This mission could be made up of wine and non-wine businesses. With a top NYS official heading the mission, this would faciliate appropriate meetings with counterparts in the HK government which could be covered by the media followed by a reception serving NY wine.

    The US Commercial Service has offered to help with the list of invitees and the media coverage. HKTDC has said they will offset much if not all of the travel related expenses for the key members of the mission. This is no different than what the States of CA, OR and WA have recently done for their wineries. In fact OR and WA have recently signed a memo of understanding (MOU) with the HK government and this alone has had a significant impact on their wineries sales. VA and NC through SUSTA last year attended the HKTDC Trade Exhibition and this has had an impact on their sales.

    At this stage VA and NC wines are better known in the local HK market than NY wine which is really not right. We need to find a way to get this message across to those in the key positions in NYS government who can make something happen. After all the President “has set a goal to double exports in the next 5 years”. This is not going to happen without the assistance of state government.

  2. Staci Z. Fry

    January 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    One of the best-kept secrets of New World wine is that Napa Valley does not have a corner on the market.

    More important, the legislation enacted in New York over 30 years ago paved the way for legislation in many other states — California included — that have made boutique vineyards economically feasible.


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