VFN will be increasing sales of Vermont wines in Vermont restaurants using funding from a Specialty Crop Block Grant and with support from the Vermont Grape & Wine Council. The first phase of the project had the following components: baseline research into the current perceived barriers and opportunities, webinars and written materials that begin to address information gaps, a training in how to organize successful peer-to-peer sensory evaluation systems, trade tastings with Vermont wine buyers and distributors, and restaurant staff field trips to local vineyards. A second grant for work in 2019 will fund training sessions for servers on presenting Vermont wine, development of wine related tourism materials, and restaurant wine tastings that build off of lessons learned in the 2018 Vermont Wine Week.
Materials from the Vermont Wine Project:
An initial report on perceived barriers to selling more Vermont wine in Vermont restaurants is complete. It reflects interviews with 21 people in different points of the wine industry, a survey to winemakers, and review of existing research on the topic of Northern Climate wine sales to restaurants. The research was designed to inform the menu of professional development opportunities offered during this grant, not reach definitive answers (as you will see in the report, consensus is. . . elusive). Published in November, 2017.
At the conclusion of our work in 2018 we published the following materials to help with marketing Vermont wine:
A reference card of common Vermont grown grapes and their characteristics
A fun experiment in encouraging restaurant bar patrons to order Vermont wines by the glass
A more detailed article on the ways to describe the flavor of Vermont wine
2019 Events: We will be holding a series of events exploring Vermont wines in 2019 with funding from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
Friday, April 12th: Enjoy a free wine tasting in the relaxed atmosphere of new member, Brownsville Butcher & Pantry, with Fable Farm Fermentory and Shelburne Vineyard/Iapetus, paired with Spring Brook Farm cheese. Linger for a glass of wine and food pairing in their cafe.
Monday, April 29th: Join us (VFN) and Montpelier Vineyards at Hunger Mountain Coop for a mini-workshop and wine tasting as part of their "Earth Month". Open to both the public and restaurant staff, 5:30pm - 6:30pm, $5 at the door. Please pre-register by emailing your name and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, May 6th: Attend an industry-only special workshop at Dedalus Wine Shop in Burlington with Brittany Galbraith. In an interactive class, she will help us better understand all that the Vermont wine scene has to offer. She'll walk us through describing, selling, and pairing Vermont wines tableside. More info and the registration link. Discounted price of $15.
Wine Tasting at Mad River Taste Place
In an event co-hosted with the Mad River Taste Place on Oct 23, 2018, we focused on ice cider, ice wine, mead, and fruit wines. We looked specifically at the sweeter style wines, and how they can pair with local foods across the menu. A group of about 40 participants and 8 winemakers enthusiastically explored a range of flavor combinations. The menu and the recommendations are posted here.
Vineyard & Winery Tours - Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Shelburne Vineyard
In summer and fall of 2018, we are working with wineries to host tours for restaurant staff. Interested in hosting or visiting? E-mail email@example.com.
- The first visit was to Lincoln Peak Vineyard on Monday, August 13th from 1:00 - 3:00pm. Notes are posted here.
- The second visit was to Shelburne Vineyard on Monday, September 24th from 10:30am - 1:00pm. Notes are posted here.
Tasting Panels with Restaurant Wine Buyers
Monday, April 30th, The Essex Resort
The Vermont Fresh Network and the Vermont Grape & Wine Council hosted an event for Vermont winemakers interested in increasing their wine sales to Vermont restaurants on April 30th at The Essex Resort. The event used the sensory evaluation framework designed by Cornell Extension (scroll down for notes on that workshop) in panels of mixed winemakers and restaurant wine buyers as a starting point for discussing Vermont wines in a restaurant setting. Because this event combined public information with confidential discussions, we do not have a full report. However, some general observations by the restaurant buyers were recorded in these notes. Thank you to The Essex resort for donating the space for this workshop.
Celebrating Vermont Wines in March
During the week of March 24 - 31, 2018 Vermont wineries and cideries will be showcasing their craft at winemaker dinners, tastings, and other events hosted by VFN member restaurants and tasting rooms at over nineteen locations from Manchester to Burlington. You can explore all the possibilities at our agricultural and culinary tourism website DigInVT.com [This project now closed, but let us know if you are looking for materials from the week - contact firstname.lastname@example.org].
Field Trip to Eden Specialty Ciders
Webinar: Telling Your Winery's Story
Part of the value of a Vermont wine is a personal connection and sense of the larger story behind each bottle. That's true for wine buyers at restaurants as much as individuals at the store or visitors who might travel to your vineyard. This webinar looks at ways to tell stories that bring value to your wine.
The webinar will include:
- An brief overview of tools available for communicating your winery's unique story through both online and traditional media
- More detailed discussion of earned media and working with food / travel / wine writers
Notes from this webinar:
Cornell Workshop - Framework for Sensory Evaluation
- Outline of the New York model for a Peer-Based Sensory Evaluation Group
- TED Talk on Radical Transparency (by people who have very nifty tech tools. . . we went with a whiteboard)
Webinar: Wine Distribution and Vermont Restaurants
An introduction to wine distribution and restaurant sales in Vermont, discussing:
*How to work in complement with your distributor to maximize sales *Opportunities for Q&A.
- VT Statute on Wine / Beer Franchise Agreements
- Regulations for Wholesale Dealer & Certificate of Approval Holder and Vermont Manufacturers
This project and its publications are supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant #02200-SCBGP-12-5, a Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views of the USDA.