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24th Annual Meeting: Winemaker Roundtables

February 5, 2020

The last two years we've had the pleasure of spending some time on Vermont wine. The idea, from our standpoint, has been: how can we help get more Vermont wine on the table. To that end, we've worked with restaurants and other industry staff, the Grape & Wine Council, and individual wineries. In the last couple years we've coordinated workshops, mostly for industry folks. We've scheduled field trips out to wineries for restaurant and bar staff. We tried the first ever Vermont Wine Week in 2018 with a range of events, like tastings, wine pairing dinners, and dinner with the winemakers. This past fall we coordinated a wine dinner series. All with the intent of educating, providing more opportunities for folks to learn about and interact with VT-grown grapes and wine...and to sell more Vermont wine!  

This year at the Wine 101 workshop in May, attendees expressed an interest in learning more about food & wine pairing and hearing the wineries' stories - to know what to suggest to customers, to have more familiarity and be able to speak knowledgeably about VT wine. We therefore partnered with Hotel Vermont in November to offer a food & wine pairing workshop (read the article here). The most recent event, a panel discussion with four winemakers at Dedalus Wine Shop in January was a hit (read that article here). What we have found is that there is a lot of interest, excitement, and curiosity about VT's wine scene and about the special varietals that are being grown in our region.  

At our Annual Meeting, we scheduled a session to continue the conversation about Vermont wine. The goal was for our members and other attendees to hear winegrower stories and continue to learn about VT as a wine region, to hear how they got into grape growing / winemaking, what the day-to-day looks like, who the customers are, what they are most proud of, what VT's wine culture looks like from their perspective, what the future may hold, and whatever else might have come up at their tables.  

Attendees were able to chat with the vineyard and winery folks in the room in an informal, round table discussion / Q&A. The winemakers introduced themselves and spoke about what they do. Attendees were urged to ask them questions and learn more about this growing industry. We left some possible topics on the screen (story behind vineyard name; cold-hardy varieties; terroir; growing practices; products; tasting room & tours; winery agritourism; what most proud of; successes; challenges; future endeavors; natural wine; marketing; acidity; favorite variety/wine; restaurants). Folks were told to try to capture something new, interesting, or surprising that they learned in this session.

"The table talks went really well. Folks at my table were very interested. I was asked about farming practices, the value of the VFN grant work, my personal history, challenges, spontaneous fermentation, terroir/sense of place, and price point in terms of restaurants." --- Ethan Joseph of Shelburne Vineyard

We had 10 Vermont wineries represented in the room, from just beginning to more established:

  • Ellison Estate Vineyard
  • Isle La Motte Vineyard
  • La Garagista
  • Lincoln Peak
  • Lucky Bugger Vineyard
  • Mad River Vineyard
  • Montpelier Vineyards
  • PassalaVino Vineyard
  • Shelburne Vineyard
  • Snow Farm

Thank you! We look forward to continuing the conversation and supporting this pioneering industry.

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