Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Message from In-Coming President of the NY Grape and Wine Foundation

A message from Sam Filler, in-coming president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation:

Hello New York Grape and Wine World, and our Supporters.

I officially joined the New York Wine & Grape Foundation Jan. 1, and I spent my first week at the foundation's offices in Canandaigua. 

I received a warm and gracious greeting from Jim Trezise and our colleagues: Dana Alexander, Kim Hughes, Jenn Cooper, Susan Spence and Teresa Knapp.  I quickly learned that the staff is the heart of the organization. Their professionalism, hard work and positive attitudes drive forward everything we do at the foundation. 

I am excited to join their team and work with them to propel the New York grape and wine industry to new heights.

Jim will remain as president through March 31, and he kicked off the transition process with a thorough briefing on the ins and outs of how the foundation operates and an overview of its core programs.  Our foundation colleagues got me up to speed on their roles and functions; and they provided more in-depth detail about the programs that they manage.  

I am impressed at the breadth and scope of support that the Foundation provides to the industry each year.  I intend to continue this long tradition of support, and I plan on seeking out input on how the Foundation can build upon and expand its programming.

The foundation hosted its annual meeting of wine trails Jan. 5. The meeting provided me an opportunity to connect with the key leaders and representatives from our state's wine regions.  During the meeting, the trails' leadership exchanged best practices to boost member participation and marketing tactics to reach and attract more visitors. 

From my experience at Empire State Development and working with the I Love NY and Taste NY teams, I recognize the important role that trails serve to promote our wine regions and tasting rooms.  To that end, I plan on touring every wine trail and attending trail membership meetings during the first half of this year.

There will also be opportunities provided by the State this year for the foundation and wine trails to collaborate even more.  
Gov. Cuomo has proposed in his State of the State policy book several new initiatives to promote the craft beverage industry and agritourism.  For example, he pledges to make available $2 million through the Market NY REDC grant program for projects focused specifically on promoting destinations, attractions and special events related to the craft beverage and agritourism industry.  Additionally, he proposes to boost Taste NY's budget by $500,000 to support its presence at key food and beverage events.

These new investments will be complimented by the launch of New York State's first-ever New York Craft Beverage Week. This new promotion will be supplemented by a grant program for craft beverage producers to engage in joint marketing campaigns and stipends to enter products in national and international competitions.  

And, Gov. Cuomo proposes to establish the Taste NY Culinary Trail System, which will assist New York's branded trail systems with additional statewide promotion, as well as a one-stop shop within the Taste NY program to provide technical support.
This is going to be an exciting year of continued growth for the grape and wine industry.  It helps greatly that our state government remains committed to supporting our industry in many ways.  

I look forward to meeting many of you over the course of the year, and I welcome your ideas and questions, so feel free to email anytime at

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