Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lower Manhattan event scheduled for Sunday

Must have a dozen posts to get done and way too much other work. So let me try to put the other work on the back burner for two days and catch up before we reach the weekend. Been having this one since Monday. Here are two items I liked out of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation newsletter:

CITY WINERY in lower Manhattan will be the scene of our “Uncork New York—Sip, Savor & Shop” tasting next Sunday afternoon [Dec. 6], with 38 wineries, over a dozen food producers, and four restaurants providing samples for locavores. Besides tasting, attendees can actually buy the wines and foods on the spot, a great way to stock up for the holidays.

Friday’s Wall St. Journal included a nice mention of the event, which is also being promoted in Time Out New York and through other means. Tickets are only $45, and are available at

“WINES, WITH NOTES OF M.B.A.” is the headline of a New York Times Business Section article today by Kathryn Jones on the growth of the wine industry stimulated by people from other businesses pursuing a second career.

The piece also features a great photo of Mike Schnelle and Nancy Irelan, owners of Red Tail Ridge Winery on Seneca Lake, the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified winery in the Finger Lakes. Nancy’s Ph.D in genetics and years of experience in enology and viticulture research at Gallo, combined with Mike’s M.B.A. and experience in the heavy equipment and construction industries, brought a unique set of knowledge and skills to creating a new vineyard and winery literally from the ground up.

Of the 58 New York wineries that have opened in the past three years, virtually all are owned by people from other walks of life, as opposed to the immediate post-Farm Winery Act (1976) wineries which were all owned by grape growers whose traditional markets (large wineries) had dried up.

A similar trend is occurring in different parts of the country, and in most cases there is virtually no attrition (failure), largely because most new entrants do their homework and create sound business plans. In New York, for example, we offer a sophisticated web-based site selection system (, and on our own web site ( legal and regulatory information, a comparison of different types of licenses, and basic resources for business planning.

In today’s economy, few industries are growing and contributing as much value-added benefit as the wine industry, which in New York State generates over $3.4 billion annually in economic activity. Public officials would be wise to keep this in mind as they shape budgets and policy initiatives.