Friday, February 24, 2012

Democrat & Chronicle: Keeping Wine in the Finger Lake Family

William Boutard-Hunt is the seventh-generation of the Hunt family and takes his first steps on the family farm, walking from his grandfather, Art, to his dad, Jonathan.

This will become more and more an issue in New York state wine over the next 20 years. Laws of inheritance and tax complications are a difficult and complex issue. And ofc ourse, the idea is that these wineries should stay family run. You don;t want suits making local wine. Also, congrats to the Hunt family. Nice people. Good folks.- CD

Keeping the vino in the family
9:42 AM, Feb. 8, 2012
Written by James Battaglia
Democrat & Chronicle (NY)

Art Hunt, at right, pours his son, Jonathan, a glass of 2011 Cabernet Franc as he holds William Boutard-Hunt, a seventh-generation member of the family. / Brady Dillsworth

When Meaghan Frank was admitted to Cornell University, she planned to earn advanced degrees in communications and work anywhere but the family business.

Plans changed, however, when a course revealed how her great-grandfather planted the first European vinefera grapes in the Finger Lakes. It helped convince her to become the fourth generation to work at Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinefera Wine Cellars, the longest family-owned winery in the Finger Lakes.

“It just made me feel really proud to learn about our reputation through other people,” Frank said. “It spurred me to learn more about the business.”

There has been a recent increase in the number of Millenials in the Finger Lakes region working for the family winery, said Jim Trezise, president of the New York state Wine and Grape Foundation.

“The next generation is getting involved to a surprising and wonderful extent,” he said. “It’s very inspiring and uplifting because what it says is that the younger generation has confidence in the future of our industry.”

About one in five wineries are multi-generational in the Finger Lakes. And with a growth of new wineries, tourism and production across the state, it’s a figure that’s expected to increase.

From 2001 to 2011, 198 new wineries opened in New York — more than in the previous 170 years combined. Also, wine production since 1985 has increased by more than 50 percent and from 2000 and 2008, tourist visits increased by 85 percent.

Frank is a sales associate and marketing assistant at her family’s winery. She drives to work every day with her dad and eats lunch with her grandmother whenever she can. Earlier this month, she left to study wine business at the University of Adelaide in Australia and hopes to receive additional experience in Australia or California, before coming home for good.

Wine makers, retailers

Mark and Jeanne Wiltberger’s parents, Len and Judy, planted the first vines at Keuka Springs Vineyards in 1981, when Mark was 12 and Jeanne was 7. Growing up in Greece, neither expected to become professionally involved in their parents’ business.

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