Monday, March 16, 2009

Wineries Unlimited - A Success for 2009

Having gone, traveled, digested both food and wine - and information, I am trying to see what I saw. A few notes:

1. Tasted some great wines. Jefferson Vineyards, always a solid winery, has continued to surprise over the last few years. Their chardonnay and viongier are some of the best the east coast has to offer. And their reds are nice too! Really taking a big step forward as one of the better programs on the east coast.

2. Cautious optimism was the theme of he show. Most wineries had a good to very good year last year. And liquor sales are up. People are being cautious with their money, but everyone is slightly optimistic.

3. Sustainability was the key word. Tim Martinson and Karen Ross both spoke on the subject. Tim Martinson is Senior Extension Associate with the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, where he leads the Statewide Viticulture Extension Program. Since 1996, Karen Ross has been president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG). CAWG's mission is to improve the profitability of its members and the reputation of California wine through unified, proactive grower advocacy of sound public policies, research and education programs, and best business and environmental practices. She also serves as Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America.

4. The boxed wine packaging booth rarely saw a lag in interest. Places like Terrapin Station and others have inspired some winemakers to inquire as to the machinery and equipment necessary. In the end, it is a great way o separate promotional wines from the higher end product for medium-to-large east coast wineries. This has never been more true for the bigger New York wineries, who are confronting grocery store possibilities, whether they want them or not.

5. Marquette was the buzz word grape of the show. But personally, I liked the Frontenac Gris much, much better. Both from Minnesota. Looks like Minnesota is currently grabbing a lot of the headlines for its hybrids over other university programs.

6. The Mason-Dixon Line might become one of the next most exciting wine regions on the east coast. Wineries in Pennsylvania and Maryland are popping up throughout there. It could be something very interesting to watch five or six years from now, if trends in better winemaking escalate and growth in the region continues.