• The writer is president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. It provides training, research, competition and lobbying services for the entire New York State wine industry although it is headquartered in Canandaigua, in the Finger Lakes.
By Jim Trezise
Some people opine that the New York Wine & Grape Foundation should have an office in New York City, just like all the world’s other wine regions do.
Two problems: Money and misinformation.
In reality, other wine regions don’t have offices in the Big Apple. Those that once did, like Australia and Germany, have closed them in favor of contracting with wine-focused public relations professionals ranging from individuals working out of their homes to larger firms, depending on the budget and aspirations of the client.
The closest things to “wine region offices” are ProChile, which includes wine among food and many other products, one person in a tiny space representing New Zealand, and government offices from Spain and other countries where bureaucrats simply oversee the contracted work — which itself is shrinking.
It’s simple economics: Why pay for outrageously expensive bricks and mortar when you’re looking for talent and exposure? That’s why regions that have some budget for marketing in New York City hire a qualified agency to conduct their programs and events, but even those are increasingly rare. What is more common are “portfolio” tastings by importers and distributors promoting the wines they represent from around the world.
New York City clearly is an important market, especially for wineries in the nearby Hudson Valley and Long Island. The vast majority of New York State residents live there, and it is a key wine media center like London.
When our budget has permitted, we’ve been fortunate to have Wine & Food Associates (Rory Callahan and Carole Cleaver) coordinate our Greenmarkets and other programs in New York City. If we eventually have more money, we can do more, but even then it makes the most sense to spend it on programs rather than property.
Meanwhile, one of New York’s wine regions has announced that it has opened a New York City Office — virtually. Morgen McLaughlin, president of Finger Lakes Wine Country, is using social media to create a virtual office in the Big Apple at virtually no cost. Although hard to describe, it is very creative.
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