Monday, August 4, 2008

New York: Same problem as surrounding states

I've been trying to reach Jim Trezise, the director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, for more than a month now. One of the subjects I wanted to talk about was how well the state does in getting its wines into restaurants. Lo and behind, he touched on that subject in the latest e-letter.

He writes: LOCAVORE movement is far more advanced on the west coast than in New York, where we of course like to think we’re trendy even though we often lag in areas like this. A great example is the Westin Bellevue hotel near Seattle, the host hotel for this week’s Riesling Rendezvous conference at Chateau Ste. Michelle. As you check in, they let you know their Cypress restaurant features ONLY Washington and other Northwest wines—sorry, no French, Italian, or even California. The selection is eclectic, the staff enthusiastic, the food pairings superb. I asked the manager how this came about—like if it was a specific promotion backed by a trade organization (No)—and he said: “Naturally. We’re in Washington, which has great wines, so why not let our guests taste them?” I asked the same question at several restaurants that had good, if not exclusive, selections of local wines. Same answer. In other words, on the west coast, they get it! Can you imagine that in New York City? With only one exception—“The View” restaurant at the Marriott Marquis, which has had a “New York Tasting Menu” inspired by Bert Miller—you would be hard pressed to fine ONE New York wine in Big Apple hotels. Don’t get me wrong: I Love New York, I’m proud of it, and I applaud its exciting diversity—in people, attractions, and wine. But for a supposedly sophisticated city, it’s largely ignorant of the great wine regions surrounding it, and certainly not loyal to them. That’s one of the reasons we’re concentrating more of our promotion efforts on the Big Apple, including an expanded “New York Wines & Dines” program in October.

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