• 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” —
Brookview Station Winery
Eagle Crest Vineyards
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards
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.
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