Vermont Fresh Network is working to increase sales of Vermont wines in Vermont restaurants and increase industry and consumer knowledge about Vermont grapes & wine with funding from a Specialty Crop Block Grant and 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.
The second grant for work in 2019 funded training sessions for restaurant & bar staff 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.
We are applying for a third grant to continue this project in 2020, which would extend into early 2022. To further strengthen the Vermont wine industry and the Grape & Wine Council, we propose 1) convening a multi-stakeholder advisory board for the duration of the project and researching and speaking with other regional wine associations about their approach; 2) a series of networking & educational events held at wineries - 2 for vineyard & winery staff, 2 for culinary industry staff, and ending with 1 for the public (consumers); 3) a food & wine collaborative marketing project that results in special chef-created recipes and pairing cards or a booklet for digital and print materials and consumer awareness; 4) pilot online wine tastings.
Materials and information from the Vermont Wine Project:
Visit a winery on a culinary trail! Learn more on DigInVT.com.
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
2019-20 Events: We held a series of events exploring Vermont wines with funding from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
ANNUAL MEETING - Tuesday, Jan 28th: Our 2020 annual meeting included a session on Vermont as a wine region. A brief presentation about VFN's VT wine project, followed by round table conversations / Q&A with our local winemakers. The meeting was attended by 120 of our members and stakeholders and there were 10 wineries represented. Read the recap here.
PANEL DISCUSSION/WORKSHOP - Tuesday, Jan 14th: Vermont Winemakers Panel at Dedalus Wine Shop, Burlington. Wine Director Brittany Galbraith leads a panel discussion with Vermont’s leading winemakers, including Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista, Ethan Joseph of Iapetus, Krista Scruggs of ZAFA and Rhiannon Johnson of The Quiet One. Learn about the evolving wine culture here in Vermont and what makes these vignerons’ wine so special. Come early or stay after to enjoy food and special by-the-glass pours! This was a sold-out event with a waiting list! We hope to do a part two discussion in the future. Read the write-up here.
WORKSHOP - Wednesday, Nov 6th: Industry-only Wine & Food Pairing workshop at Hotel Vermont with executive chef, Doug Paine, and food and beverage manager, Matt Canning. They will lead a seminar on the basics of pairing food and wine in a Vermont context. Join fellow restaurant professionals to learn what to look for in a dish to match a wine, congruent vs contrasting pairings, flavor matches vs flavor clashes, and more - all with a VT twist. Featured wineries: Fable Farm, Iapetus, La Garagista. Registration (closed). Read our write-up or Seven Days' Bite Club article.
DINNER - Wednesday, Nov 6th: Juniper Bar & Restaurant will feature Fable Farm, Iapetus, and La Garagista wine pairings with their fall menu.
DINNER - Tuesday, Nov 5th: Star winemaker and friendly local wine celebrity Ethan Joseph of Iapetus (a project of Shelburne Vineyard) will be joining Dedalus Wines to pair his lovely minimalist wines with a 3-course family-style dinner in the wine bar. $75/person. Get your tickets now!
DINNER - Monday, Nov 4th: Honey Road and Shelburne Vineyard collaborate for an Eastern Mediterranean dinner paired with Iapetus wines. Winemaker Ethan Joseph will be there during dinner service to share his experiences in winemaking, pairing wines with food, and the creation of his own innovative label that focuses on the continued learning, development, and appreciation of wine growing in Vermont.
DINNER - Saturday, Oct 19th: Snow Farm Vineyard and Chef Denise Boutin of My Kids Kitchen team up to offer a Harvest Wine Pairing Dinner in the indoor event space at the Vineyard in South Hero. Click here to view the menu, which will feature Vermont produce and meats. Each course will be paired with one of Snow Farm's locally grown wines and Winemaker Patrick Barrelet will be in attendance to speak about the winemaking process. By reservation only. Please call 802-324-5563 to hold your spot. $74.95/person (includes five courses and wine pairings).
DINNER - Sunday, Sept 22nd: Honey Road and Co Cellars present a dinner at 18 Elm. Chef Cara & her team at Honey Road will prepare and delight your senses with a family style Eastern Mediterranean feast served in the courtyard of 18 Elm, Waterbury. ZAFA wine producer Krista Scruggs and Grace Meyer of Co Cellars will pair and pour wine and cider throughout dinner.
DINNER - Saturday, Sept 14th: Join the Black Lantern Inn and the Vermont Fresh Network for a celebration dinner and bluegrass music on the porch honoring The Parsons' Farm and their 100 years of farming. Appetizers, cocktails, and a five-course meal featuring lamb from The Parsons' Farm, organic wine pairings from Montpelier Vineyards, and local produce, meats, and cheeses from other nearby farms.
2019 Fall Wine Dinner Series - complete list
WORKSHOP - Monday, May 6th: 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. VT Wine 101. More info and the registration link. Discounted price of $15. (Workshop showcased wine from Iapetus/Shelburne Vineyard, Lincoln Peak, La Garagista, and Montpelier Vineyard.) Read our write-up here.
WORKSHOP - 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. Read our write-up here.
TASTING - 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.
Read our blog articles:
- The Vermont Wine Scene: More and more, we are becoming known as a wine region producing interesting and unique products.
- Local Summer Wine Recommendations: Whether you are grilling, at a picnic, camping, relaxing on the porch, or canoeing, our local wineries have you covered.
- Tasting Vermont Wine: Vermont grows unfamiliar grape varieties, so when a diner in a restaurant says they'd like a Merlot or Chardonnay, they're asking for something that isn't grown in Vermont.
- Experience Vermont Wine on the Lake Champlain Tasting Trail: The locally produced wines made from grapes grown along the Lake Champlain Tasting Trail have their very own terroir.
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, 2018 at 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
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.
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.