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We're a network of Vermont Chefs, Farmers, Food Artisans, and Diners.

Wine Project

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. 

Initial Report - Barriers to Vermont Wine Sales in Vermont Restaurants 

 

At the conclusion of our work in 2018 we published the following materials to help with marketing Vermont wine:

Vermont Wine Grapes

A reference card of common Vermont grown grapes and their characteristics

Vermont Wine Coasters

A fun experiment in encouraging restaurant bar patrons to order Vermont wines by the glass

Tasting Vermont Wine

A more detailed article on the ways to describe the flavor of Vermont wine


 Upcoming Events:

Coming Soon. . . .

 

We will be holding a series of events exploring Vermont wines in 2019 with funding from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Check back here for details. 


Previous Events:

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 zea@vermontfresh.net.

  • 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 notesThank 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 tara@vermontfresh.net].

Field Trip to Eden Specialty Ciders

West Charleston and Newport VT
Monday, February 12th
We followed up with Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders after our trip to get more of her thoughts on best ways to promote ice cider in restaurants here in Vermont. Check out this post  with what she told us. This summer there will be another chance for field trips to Vermont vineyards, e-mail helen@vermontfresh.net to get on the list for announcements when these are scheduled (they will also appear on this webpage and in the Fresh Insider).
You can always sample and learn about Ice Cider at the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in Newport, VT and Eden's newly opened Winooski Taproom.

Webinar: Telling Your Winery's Story

Wednesday, December 13th, 8:30 - 10:00 am

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
Presenting will be FM Munoz, Director of Marketing at Vermont Creamery, and Todd Trzaskos from VT Wine Media

Notes from this webinar:

  • Overall notes, in PDF handout form (this is a heavily revised version of FM's presentation that brings in the first half of the webinar)
  • FM's presentation is here

Cornell Workshop - Framework for Sensory Evaluation

Chris Gerling of Cornell Extension will be leading a workshop for winemakers on how to set up systems of peer-to-peer sensory evaluation for their wines. He will be joined by Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards and Dave Breeden of Sheldrake Point Winery. 
 
This workshop will address not only systems for evaluating wine, but the structure that has worked in New York for hosting useful, constructive evaluation sessions between winemaking colleagues. We will be tasting wine from Vermont attendees for evaluations during the workshop (see registration for details if you would like your wine to be tasted). 
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Thank you to the Residence at Quarry Hill, Hotel Vermont and Farrell Distributing for their additional support for this event.

Webinar: Wine Distribution and Vermont Restaurants

An introduction to wine distribution and restaurant sales in Vermont, discussing:

*How to evaluate using different distributors (or self distribute) 
*How to work in complement with your distributor to maximize sales  
*Opportunities for Q&A.
Our speakers came from Farrell Distributing but will be speaking about Vermont distribution options more broadly. Speakers are Ryan Chaffin, Don MacDonald, Stuart Timmons. 
 
 
If we want to get legal, here are the primary guidances regarding a winemaker's relationship with a distributor:

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. 

Thank you to Flavor Plate for donating their time and effort to the design and co-development of our website.