Enjoy Some Wine with Your Travel Marketing, with Sam Filler

Episode 109

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Sam Filler serves as the executive director of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the main trade association responsible for statewide investments in research and promotion on behalf of the New York wine and grape industry. He previously served as director of industry development at Empire State Development. In that role, Sam worked closely with the alcoholic beverage industry and policymakers to implement governor Andrew Cuomo’s Craft Beverage Initiative. Sam is a graduate of Vassar and New York University. He serves on the boards of Cornell Agritech Advisory Council, National Grape Research Alliance, Wine Market Council, and New York Kitchen. On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Sam about the intersection of the craft beverage industry and travel and tourism. The regional nuances, especially of wines and other craft beverages, create a tremendous opportunity for destinations and the beverage makers who call that region home.  

Credit: Wine and Grape Foundation

  • How to work together across a region to promote niche markets like craft beverages as part of the tourism fabric of the region
  • Where to look for marketing dollars and join in creating a bigger impact through regional partnerships
  • How you can lose economic development marketing dollars if you have no one in charge of deciding when and where to spend those dollars
  • Ways to better know your target market, and target the right messages to that market
  • How to bring the right tactics and strategies to your marketing plans, even on a limited budget
GETTING CRAFTY Craft beverages are becoming a huge industry. Every town and hamlet, it seems, has at least one winery, brewery, and distillery, dispensing locally hand-crafted wine, beer, and spirits. And of course, all of those adult beverages are a big part of the travel and tourism industry. Wine and beer trails are becoming more popular and drawing in a larger audience. These trails and other craft beverage related events present a great opportunity for beverage makers, regional hotels, restaurants and other destinations to work together to create a unique and memorable visitor experience. STRATEGIES AND TACTICS One of the challenges of collaborating with multiple players in a given region is figuring out who is in charge of what. With a project like a wine trail, the point person is likely running a business full-time alongside this volunteer commitment. Sam saw the need to develop a “set of tactics and strategies that we can offer to these wine trails that they can kind of pull from and know that there are tried and true techniques to attract the right people.” So through the Wine and Grape Foundation set about to provide exactly this kind of strategic direction and some real tools that can filter down to the smallest, smallest winery. RESOURCES

[00:17] Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. I am passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from the experiences of professionals in the industry. That is why I’m so excited to introduce today’s guest, Sam Filler. Sam serves as the executive director of the New York wine and grape foundation, the main trade association responsible for statewide investments in research and promotion on behalf of the New York wine and grape industry. He previously served as director of industry development at Empire State Development, New York state’s chief economic development agency. In that role, Sam worked closely with the alcoholic beverage industry and policy makers to implement governor Andrew Cuomo was craft beverage initiative. Sam is a graduate of Zillow lead and why program and serves on the boards of Cornell Agritech Advisory Council, national grape research alliance, wine market council, and then your kitchen. Thank you for joining me. Sam. Thanks for having me, Nicole. I’m looking forward to our conversation, but before we get started, I’d love to have my guests tell their own story in their own words because of bio can only really represent so much of really who you are and what your background isn’t in what really your journey to where you are today. So can you, can you dive a little bit deeper into that forest and kind of share your story in your own words.

[01:40] I come from a little bit of a different background than a you might traditionally find in agriculture and tourism. Uh, I went to New York University for my master’s degree and went to the wrapper Wagner School of public service and got a master’s degree in urban planning and had set out thinking that I would be involved in urban redevelopment. And out of this program I was able to be part of governor Cuomo was first class of empire state fellows, which actually required me to move to Albany to participate. And, um, this is where my path began to diverge because, uh, I was placed with Empire State Development as a fellow there. And um,

[02:35] they’re real estate development group is based in New York. Within my first month at Empire State Development, the governor announced that he was going to host his first beer wine and spirits summit, which was going to be held in October of 2012. And I guess fate had put me right next to pat hooker, who at the time was, uh, the agricultural economic developer and Empire State Development. And he was a former commissioner of agriculture and now he is the governor’s top advisor on agriculture and food and beverage issues. So he was responsible for planning this beer, wine and spirit summit and me not having a lot of volunteer to assist him. And he said, great, why don’t you develop a policy book of all the government governors accomplishments to date in assisting this, this a sector. And uh, you can, uh, you know, attend the summit and have a beer at the governor’s mansion. So I, no one right ahead. And dove into that project. And at the summit, the governor announced that he was going to create a new position, a called the one stop shop, which was designed to serve the beer wine, the emerging beer wine and spirits industry insider industry, uh, and essentially the role is going to be an ombudsman or internal advocate for the industry within the state governments and

[03:55] some of the other state agencies have a, a reputation of not always providing clear answers or providing contradictory answers. And so the purpose of the position was related to get one answer and get a clear answer that was a legal that, that businesses could follow me, make sure that they were in compliance and doing the right things to, you know, follow the state rules and regulations. Uh, and, and part of me starting this role also meant that I was serving as the Empire State Development Commissioners representative on the wine and grape foundation board. And I, my education began in this world of agriculture and, and, um, um, craft beverages and eventually the girl, their role grew to include a, my oversight of um, marketing and tourism grant programs specifically for a craft beverage promotions. And we launched a taste New York bar at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and uh, and I also got to dabble back into urban redevelopment side, moved down to New York City after a year and a half in Albany and also worked on the Atlantic yards redevelopment project. But really a craft beverages became my passion. And, um, I was fortunate to be able to succeed Jim trees ice who was the founder and president of the wine and grape foundation for 32 years. And I’m getting to build on the great legacy that he left behind.

[05:34] There’s so much to unpack in what you just shared, but what I really love about your story is that you started with this whole kind of a dichotomy. Actually. Have you started with this whole, you know, he’s getting this master’s in public planning. I thought it was going to be an urban planner. And how your journey has brought you, you know, into agriculture, the heart of New York state and in the beverage industry. And I always find it fascinating, you know, how our life journey just kind of guides us, right? And takes us to where we’re supposed to be. And also kind of a what, what a great position to be in at this particular time with this governor who’s been so supportive of the craft beverage industry and everything that, you know, he has been doing with his policies to really encourage a development in the industry and the explosive growth that we’re experiencing right now.

[06:28] I guess I should also add a lot to unpack, but while I was at Empire State Development, dabble in some other areas that the organization is responsible for. Particularly I love New York and the state tourism campaign and some of the state marketing initiatives like New York state certified. And so I kind of straddled the world of direct economic development and for the craft beverage sector, but also, you know, how tourism intersects with that and how um, just general business development marketing intersects with that. And so I, you know, I worked really closely with a Gavin Landry while he was at a, I love New York and then Ross Levi, you got a, you know, in addition to my education and agriculture and education on, you know, the power of, you know, the, I love New York brand and what state marketing can do with that. And for up until, you know, governor Cuomo has tenure and the, I love New York budget was underfunded and now it’s a $60 million dollar a year campaign. So, um, you know, there’s an obvious recognition that tourism, I think it’s like the third large, third or fourth largest employer in the state and it deserves this attention and recognition and the beer, wine, spirits and beer sector is a, is a valued component of attracting people to come to our state.

[07:59] I’m really glad that you pointed that out because that’s exactly why we wanted to talk about that intersection because it is such an important one to our state. But just in travel and tourism in general, I think across our country and around the world, you know, that craft beverage industry and agriculture is such, such an integral part of it and trying to kind of explore how all of those things kind of intersect. To use your word when you talked about how um, agriculture in the craft beverage industry intersect the tourism and with your, with the business development marketing that you were doing while you were at Empire State Development, I just think is really great perspective. Um, and so I’m excited to dive into these questions. So let’s start with the subject of creativity and, um, just understanding, you know, how competitive it really is out there in terms of tourism and hospitality and craft beverage. The many choices that we have as consumers have, you know, where to spend our money, uh, were to visit a, how to spend our time. And I’m wondering, um, you know, what you are doing a at the New York wine and grape foundation that’s really helping kind of New York state. I’m wineries and the grape industry standout from the crowd.

[09:24] Kind of answered in two parts and I’m going to just kind of more generally about state tourism priorities and then what we do. So, you know, while I was with the state I got to participate in consumer focus groups. I got to help review some of the research that was done in terms of what, what the state should target is resources and what they there, you know, agency of record, kimberly. Well, to help them determine is there are two main audiences are really uh, families and then I’m an empty nest, not empty nesters, but basically, you know, uh, young couples that are in their late to mid thirties. They have some disposable income. They live in the New York City Metro area and they, you know, they have the freedom to travel and explore exploited state. But the main target is, is families. And so I guess just the point of like, you know, competitiveness.

[10:23] I think the state was very smart in the better defining its target audience so that their marketing efforts would be more effective and more useful for the various, you know, tourism, promotion groups across the state. Um, so I, you know, I’m looking at that from that experience saying, Hey, you know, what do we need to do as a wine industry to be more targeted and specific about who we’re trying to identify as potential visitors or potential folks that are going to engage in wine tourism. And when I, my very first year in this role I happened to be visiting Albany and I was staying in a hotel and it was a massive snow storm and I got snowed in star. I stuck in a hotel and I was just hanging out in the lobby and notice they had one of these rack card displays and in the rack display they had a pamphlet from the Seneca Lake wine trail.

[11:18] And I just kind of was like, hmm, this is interesting. It’s good that this is here. And Seneca Lake is wildly promoting itself. But how do they know that, you know, someone who’s a business traveler that stayed in this hotel pick this up and it’s suddenly motivated to go travel three, three and a half hours to go to Seneca Lake or is going to make a decision. At some point in the future to visit them is the, the cards don’t have a way for you to kind of click in a code or scan it so you know the wine trail that knows like, you know, where their marketing efforts successful. Does it make the most sense to have a rock hard business hotel in Albany? I’m not saying it’s good or bad. It could be the right strategy. It’s just, you know, one thing that the state has started doing very well is when they do a campaign for the cat skills for instance, and you take a photo with your phone and you posted on facebook, that gets tagged and that info goes back to them so they know, hey, you saw their ad campaign to go to the schools.

[12:22] You went to such and such state park and took a picture. They can measure the success of that campaign. So you know Kevin a towards what the wine and grape foundation does. Yeah. We were created by state law in 1985 to serve as the primary entity to invest in research and promotion on behalf of the grape and wine industry. And we’ve really, you know, we’re supposed to serve table grapes, wine grapes, wine processors. As part of our state mandate. We generally kind of are more focused on the wine industry, our promotional activities and the way we do that is in the funding we received from the state. We allocate a certain portion that goes to support wine trails. And the way we currently run the program is we has set a certain amount of budget for each wine trail that they then use for their own marketing activities that, you know, the one thing that we require them to do is just used our logo on any materials that they print or radio advertisements or TV advertisements.

[13:31] So we’re, we’ve been fairly hands off in terms of the strategy that these wine trails to deploying, which makes, you know, going back to the kind of rock hard example I cited, you know, I think well, we even would like to do is be more strategic with how we deploy our resources and being more particular about how we have some wine trails and use those resources. And I’m sure this can be a follow up question, but we’re now in the middle of a wine tourism study that’s looking at best practices globally and we’ve done some consumer research to better understand, okay know we only get, yeah, we get about a million dollars a year from the state and 20 percent of that is going to wine trails. How can we really maximize the benefit of those dollars to continue to grow a winery visitation into the state?

[14:20] Um, again, you gave us so much to think about, but, uh, I’m glad that you are, uh, you know, sharing this with our listeners. This is a project that I was aware of, uh, that you were working on. And I think it’s a really important one. So you started to kind of taking us down this path, you know, with kind of the macro level, if you will, thinking about the state tourism office, you know, their priorities, how they engage with prospective visitors. And in talking about really being targeted with which I’m so happy that you brought that up. We talk about that every day here in our business and with our clients about really being targeted. And then I’m kind of bringing that down to the level of the industry that you work in and are so passionate about and how do you bring it down now to that micro level and sort of this thought process that you know, that you went through and you’re standing in that lobby and wondering about this brochure rack and how, how effective that really is in terms of a marketing spend.

[15:21] Um, so what I really would like to kind of, you know, as, as a followup just to continue down this path with you is, um, if you could share with our listeners a little bit more about kind of the challenge. Would that funding. Because I am a little bit familiar with, with this project, you’re talking about the wine tourism study and um, what they think is so neat about it, but I think our listeners would, would benefit from knowing about is that not only were you trying to be more strategic, but you’re also trying to solve a problem, if I understand it correctly in terms of how you grant out and how those funds or if those funds actually get used by these smaller organizations. Can you, can you kind of expand on that a little bit?

[16:06] Yeah. So, um, prior to me starting in January 2017, we were notified by, uh, one of the leading wine trails. They weren’t going to use any of the funding that we allocated for them during that fiscal year. And it was a significant amount of money. I think it was somewhere between 50 and $25,000. Um, and so, you know, our fiscal year follows the state fiscal year. It’s, it’s April to March and finding this out into December are really, it’s tough to swallow and forces you to kind of scramble to figure out, well, you know, where do we allocate funding? Are there other wine trails? I can use it at saying, fortunately the, we have wine trails like the Seneca Lake wine trail. You like wine trail, a trail that’s in the Hudson Valley now. They’ll soak up any additional funding that we give them, but that is not good because, I mean it’s good for them, but it’s not good in terms of our mandate to be a statewide organization and means no, that other wine regions are being underserved and not represented, uh, in, in our tourism promotions or at least.

[17:23] So there’s, did the and those wine trails that are able to soak up the funds. They have at least some type of executive management or part time, uh, executive management that know can be proactive. Whereas we have other wine trails across the state that are also volunteer run. And it’s the wineries that are running the wine trail themselves and no, they’re not always up to date. On the best marketing practices are often kind of calling us to February saying, hey, thanks for the $5,000 allocated to us, we’re not going to be able to use that. And again, that’s kind of problematic because we don’t want to go back and say thanks for all this funding, but not all, you know, Charles, we’re able to use it. So, you know, what the problem I was trying to solve is, well, the other issue that, that, that we’re seeing as the, you know, at least the wine trails that are executives executively managed, they do a knock up job running events.

[18:25] So like, no, during this month there’s a series of Christmas themed events on the weekends that you can go to and the finger lakes. And that generates a lot of revenue for the wine trail. Um, but in many cases the wineries, they’re starting to see diminishing returns, uh, in their participation in these events because it costs them extra staff time in security in the samples are giving away. Um, and so, you know, they’re not seeing a boost in their sales, but the wine trail is benefiting because they’re collecting all the revenue from those ticket sales and so, and, and, and also on that vein, they don’t necessarily know if they’re seeing the right customers either, you know, a good portion of those people that, that go, you know, do some of each wine trail events. They’re looking more to party and have a good time. It’s not as much about the wine education, although there are, you know, there people that are interested in that.

[19:17] So I think there’s a recognition on the part that no, they also need to be more targeting the people they’re trying to attract to their trails. And so, you know, I approached the state to get grant funding to really look at this issue of wine tourism because it’s generally still on a positive trends, but you know, we want to be equipped with strategies and tactics that we can then offer to our wine trail partners to deploy as part of the funding or providing them. So you know, not to call them out, but a wine trail like to add adirondack coast wine trail. It’s a relatively new wine region, you know, they have a energized group of eight to 10 wineries, but it’s volunteer run. They have a limited budget. So what do they do with that limited budget? They could do a facebook campaign or do they host an event, do they do targeted marketing over into Burlington, Vermont, you know, so what we’re hoping to get out of this wine tourism projects that we’re doing is now a set of tactics and strategies that we can offer to these wine trails that they can kind of pull from and know that there are tried and true techniques to attract the right people.

[20:29] And so also support the wine trail.

[20:32] Yeah. Thank you very much for, um, for sharing all of that with us. I think it’s important context understand because I really do think that that’s a great example of coming up with a creative solution that’s solving just a multitude of challenges. Um, you know, first from your perspective, of course, how do we best serve the entire state and all of the wine regions, um, and then second from the perspective of those small a wine trails or even those small winery owners who might not have, you know, the, whether they have the knowledge or the knowhow and how to do marketing or just the time because they’re wearing so many hats, right and running and they’re running their own businesses. Um, so you’re, so you’re not only providing, you know, this study in this research, but you’re also providing you some strategic direction and some real tools that can filter down to the smallest, smallest winery.

[21:29] I think that’s, uh, that’s really fantastic and I appreciate you, uh, taking us a little deeper into that. Um, it certainly comes up quite a bit on this show. We have interviewed the folks from the cvb up there in the adirondack coast, Christie, we had on several episodes ago and, and, um, just a few episodes ago, we interviewed actually Louden County and in Virginia and you know, wine tourism is, is, um, very important to them as well. And so these types of struggles that are happening, you know, in various areas, I think this is just a really great way, um, to find a creative solution. So thank you for sharing that. So we kind of just answered the second question, which is this whole idea of creativity that appears in the face of a challenge, you know, creative solutions that come from, from a challenge that you might face.

[22:23] I’m wondering if you have another example, either from the wine and grape foundation or from one of your previous roles where you can share a little bit about maybe a challenge that, uh, you know, that you were trying to overcome and kind of a creative solution that came from that. That’s a good question. And actually, not to lead you with the answer, but I think it would be useful to, um, explore a little bit more, some of your experience would that one stop shop and, and kind of the whole movement that’s happened here in New York state, you know, through those beer, wine and spirits summits and, and the different policy changes that have occurred that have really moved the industry forward I think in a huge way.

[23:06] Sure. I have one example. I love New York specific that comes to mind and it was probably more relevant if you live down state here in New York City, but this was kind of a novel idea at the time. So I was involved in tourism summit and I was assisting the commissioner with some of the governors deliverables and I believe this idea originally came from Gavin Landry, which was, you know, we have all these transportation assets in the New York Metro region in particular. You know, the airports where, you know, a lot of visitors are coming through and, and visiting New York. But New York City, they don’t know about the other parts of the state. And why don’t we use those terminals as an activation for, you know, I love New York marketing. So for a long time terminal five at JFK, the jet blue terminal as you either came from the parking garage, the air train, you walked through this amazing exhibit, have, you know, the various, I love New York or the various activities you can do across the state.

[24:10] So it served as a, you know, a living billboard of, you know, not just promoting New York City for promoting the journal, asked to across New York state and, and then that kind of also extended into this major advertising campaign that occurred on the tagline is there’s more to New York and New York and it again was promoting, you know, traveled to the speeches and the state parks and you know, to go skiing. So, um, I think it’s the creativity there is, you know, what are the other ways you can get eyeballs on your marketing message that’s not just the TV advertisement or a printed guide, but we’re, you know, you know, you have an audience. Um, I guess to go to specifically the craft beverage sector, I think, you know, a lot of the regulatory reform that’s occurred has been to, you know, encourage other retail activities that wineries, breweries, cideries can engage in.

[25:14] So if you’re a farm licensed state, which basically is, we have formed breweries, wineries from ciders, from distilleries, if you have that license, it means that you’ve made a commitment to a primarily use New York state ingredients in your finished product. And in exchange for making that commitment, the state has offered you some various privileges like being able to sell your, your wine by the glass. We were tasting room and sell anyone else’s foreign beverage product. Buy The glass from your tasting room. You can basically be a retail bottle shop for all the great products made under foreign licenses. You can open and branch offices. So, you know, uh, an example of a winery that has a branch office is thirsty owl there, their base in Cuba Lake and then they have a retail shop in Saratoga Springs. So you know, these and you know, the way that size into tourism is Saratoga is a major, you know, node for a tourism in this state and so if you’re a wine brand, you’d probably want to be there and get people exposed to what you have to offer.

[26:21] So maybe in Saratoga springs this weekend, but next weekend they may decide to go to Cuba Lake and check out your main tasting room. So that I wouldn’t say that, uh, you know, this concept of branch offices to, as has grown that much since, you know, in the past six years. But I’ve been slowly, you see more and more producers adding secondary locations. I guess a good example about the Rochester market is I’m a black and distilling. I believe they opened a tasting room in buffalo. So I think, you know, tourism is interesting because it’s about who you can get from outside the state to come and visit because those are external dollars. But even I think what has been amazing about, yeah, the governor, our state is focus on revitalizing. I love New York is about generating more pride within the state about everything that we have to offer. So it’s, you know, having someone from New York City travel to Rochester and Buffalo and visit these amazing places or even someone from buffalo going to Albany. So it’s, um, it all plays into each other.

[27:29] Yeah. I completely agree. And I think those were several very, very good examples of, you know, some creative solutions to this problem that, that upstate New York, you know, maybe a perceived problem that we have in terms of getting folks to understand that there is more to New York state than just New York City and also getting those people who are in New York City to explore more of, um, of the state and understand what’s right here. And, and like you said, kind of getting a New Yorkers to spend more of their dollars even in New York. Um, are, are definitely some, some fantastic examples, uh, that, that you just shared with us. And as you were talking, I was thinking about earlier, I wanted to mention this. You talked about being involved in setting up that taste New York beverage center, um, at the Barclays Center and you know, now there’s tastes Newark, um, beverage centers or even stores all across the state. Um, and all of that really does help kind of promote tourism, promote local and, you know, get people knowledgeable about just what is here.

[28:40] Yeah. Yeah. I’m just kind of shamelessly are unabashed now. Like New York state booster. Not that I wasn’t before, but it’s like it’s flowing through my veins then yeah, I get frustrated when, uh, I have family members that are like, we’re tired of New York, we’re going to move somewhere else. And it’s like you’re leaving, like, so many great things. Like even um, you know, on a personal note, my wife’s family is from Munich and we got married in Utica. Downtown unit has got some great restaurants like the tailor and the cook and ocean blue or you know, they’re doing a great job of featuring the other agricultural products of New York state and there’s so much history in Unica and being on the Erie Canal. And I mean, I don’t think you could ever leave New York, I mean the abundance of history, uh, natural resources and culture to explore.

[29:37] And I guess on that note, I think, you know, what, just some of the initial findings from other wine regions is, you know, when someone comes to visit wineries, they’re not just coming to and hit 10 wineries in one day on a wine trail. They’re trying to have a multifaceted experience there. Maybe they’re going to go visit a state park and do a short hike and then they’ll go to a winery that has a restaurant built in and have a nice meal and taste some wines. And then they might go to the local museum or do some more active recreation. So, you know, I think no, not, we can’t look at wine tourism, beverage tourism and just this silo of their visit us, you know, we, we also need to work with our other partners to no really make it a multifaceted experience. Like my father and mom was like, you could do this amazing.

[30:29] Just connecting to the history of New York state and where the winery is located. That’s a great story to tell as well. So I think that’s at least, you know, as, as we move forward with our wine trail program, try to encourage more of those collaborations and connections because. No, that’s, I think know if you look at the state’s investment in promoting tourism to family as well, you know, many of these winery tasting rooms aren’t family friendly. Like if you go to three brothers and you talked to Dave Mansfield who was the owner, he’ll tell you his bestselling beverages, root beer because he’s trying to keep the kids happy that are coming in with their parents who really want to taste the lines and you know, so um, I like to say, you know, like we should follow what the state’s doing because they are the $60,000,000 thoroughbred horse and we just want to be the fly that’s hanging on for dear life to that horse’s tail and benefit from what they’re doing.

[31:31] Well that’s actually perfect. Perfect setup for the second area that we like to kind of focus on on the show, which is this whole idea of collaboration and you just kind of hit on it in so many different ways, but I’m wondering if you can just share a little bit more with us. Um, you know, one of the things that I love about this industry is, is this whole idea of what I like to call coopertition where perceived competitors come together and create something bigger, you know, as a collaboration than they can ever do on their own. And of course the wine trails are a perfect example of that. Um, but I’m wondering if you have, you know, maybe some examples that stand out in your mind where collaborations have, have really been successful.

[32:18] No. We got a grant from the state of New York to do a synergistic marketing activity and basically it was a for beverage tasting that happened in New York City. So we partnered with the New York state brewers association in New York Distiller’s guild and the New York or association. And we took over two floors that pra, uh, in the financial district in Manhattan, which has this beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty and overlooks New York harbor. And we had a trade tasting in the morning and then we did a consumer tasting at night and we had I think something like 40 or 45 producers participate and I think to a certain extent all beverage categories we’re trying to crack into this New York City market because it’s in our backyard and it’s one of the top food and beverage places in the world, if not the top wine market in the US. Um, so you know, that while it was just one event, it was a way for us to work together in unified manager present the, the abundance and the quality of the craft beverages available for New York state. Because, you know, I think the trade in New York, I think it helps them to see it as a package deal. Like it’s not just the wines but know they can offer their customers a range of products in New York state that are really a representative of the quality. And the hard work that people put into creating their brands and their products.

[33:54] Yeah. And I think that’s so important because not just, you know, to, to get New York to buy New York, but also from a visitor experience when, you know, we’re talking a lot about wine tourism and you know, if you’ve got folks in visiting, uh, whether they’re visitors to New York city or visitors to the finger lakes or the Hudson Valley, um, you’d like that experience to extend beyond just say a winery visit, right? Right. Into the restaurants and the places where they’re dining to see those New York beverages on the menu. I think it’s so important to really living up to kind of the promise, right? That we have, that we have this world renowned beverage industry right here in New York state.

[34:34] Yup. Um, you know, we’re offices located near a kitchen and near kitchen has been open since 2006 and I think it’s a real, uh,

[34:51] amazing hub for least upstate where, um, we can really celebrate New York state agriculture. And that’s reflected in their restaurant. It’s reflected in their tasting room. It’s reflected in the educational courses that they offer. Uh, it’s reflected in their engagement with the greater community. And so no, I think, and I know they’re trying to work more and more with other partners within Canandaigua in the finger lakes to really highlight what a beautiful destination the finger lakes can be an eight. It. Hmm. When we’ve had wine writers or other travel writers calm as promotions, we’re doing. No, usually they’re flying into Rochester, so you know, the New York kitchen is a great hub for someone to begin their journey or even after they’ve toured a lot of the finger lakes regions to have another farm to table meal and then head back to the airport. They’re kind of like the Culinary Institute of America, but for New York right in the hub of the finger lakes. And you know, my, my mind, you guys stopped there and either start or cap your experience with going there.

[36:03] Yeah. And that’s another, that’s another great example of successful collaboration, not only in, of course, all the agricultural assets that they represent in terms of the beverage and food industry, but also on that project in 2006 was the results of a, you know, a collaborative effort of many including constellation brands and, and Rochester Institute of Technology and Wagman’s and others. So, um, I think that’s a really great example as well. So, Sam, I knew there would be no shortage of topics for you and I to talk about and I, and I’m sure we could continue talking for for quite some time. There’s so much talk about, especially in New York state, so much happening here. Um, but in the interest and respect of your time in our listeners’ time, I am going to end by asking you if there are any, um, is there anything that you did not get to share yet that I didn’t ask you about that you’d really like to share with our listeners? Um, or any, any new and exciting things that are happening at the wine and grape foundation that you want us to know about?

[37:08] Well, we are undertaking a rebranding project and we issued an RFP about a month and a half ago and one day was the deadline for proposals. So we have many interested firms close to 20 have submitted and I don’t mean to put us down, but did the state invested a million dollars back in 1987 to logo and the tagline and we really haven’t updated it since that time. There was a minor change the logo in 2008. However, I think for us to remain a, a, a competitive marketing entity, we need to have a contemporary and engaging logo, visual identity. And so this project is going down that path of updating that and being, you know, you know, reflective and being one of the top notch wine regions in the world. And, and we looked, we did some benchmarking against other wine regions and if you go to Virginia wines, they just launched a new website, a new visual identity. And um, yeah, industry at least in terms of being your plannings is half the size of New York. Uh, and then, you know, Oregon and Washington recently updated their branding Australia, their, their government is investing 35 million over five years, say there, no wine marketing and promotion. So no,

[38:35] we have a great story to tell, but you also need to look professional and contemporary for, you know, the catch people’s interest. So we are likely going to be unveiling a refreshed visual identity sometime mid next year and uh, it will be a continual progress projects as we, you know, no, eventually update our website and uh, also, you know, most of the recommendations that we’re going to get out of that wine tourism project deploy on our own also as a tactics and strategies to, um, attracts people into New York state.

[39:13] Absolutely. That’s awesome. Uh, so no shortage of projects for you at the New York wine and grape foundation. I’m hearing. It’s really exciting. So thank you so much Sam, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to be with us today and we’ll look forward to catching up with you again soon. Thank you so much.

[39:33] It’s time to hit the road again. Visit destination on the left on com. During your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas.

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