Tourism and the Wine Business, with Scott Osborn

Episode 169

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To Scott Osborn, Rochester native, the acquisition of Fox Run Vineyards was the natural culmination of his passion for wine and commitment to the industry. The son of two professors, Osborn’s first interest was international politics. Attending the Friends World College, a unique university with campuses all over the globe, he studied in Kenya, India, Thailand, Japan, and England. He went into real estate development in 1974, later opening an office in Lake County California, a well-known viticulture area. The move there proved to be fortuitous; living so close to the vines Osborn became interested in wine. In 1980 he took his first job at Konocti Winery labeling bottles. He then went on to work at Firestone Vineyards, Zaca Mesa, and Byron Winery in Santa Barbara. In 1984 during his time at Byron, he came back to visit family in the Finger Lakes Region. During a wine tasting trip around Seneca Lake, he tasted a Wagner Vineyards 1982 Barrel-aged Chardonnay and experience for the first time a brilliant cool climate wine. It was then he realized that this was where he wanted to make wines and ultimately own his own vineyard and winery. In 1985, there were not a lot of winemaking jobs available so he began working for a wine distributor and then went on to be General Manager of Pindar Vineyards on Long Island. In 1993, Fox Run became available and in partnership with Andy Hale, he purchased it. Since the purchase of the winery in 1994, he has resided in the beautifully renovated farmhouse originally built on the property in 1870. Initially assuming the responsibilities of winemaking, along with the myriad tasks of management, speaking engagements, and travel, he chose to hire a full-time winemaker. His selection of Peter Bell in June of 1995 satisfied his desire to engage the most gifted winemaker in the Finger Lakes region. Their shared vision for quality wine production has freed Osborn to the task of managing the winery and planning for its future. He regularly participates in wine judgings, panel discussions, and symposiums dealing with the many challenges of an increasingly sophisticated appellation. On Christmas day of 1998 three days after turning 50, Scott married long time sweetheart Ruth Worden. In 2012, Ruth’s sister Kathy and her husband Albert became partners and now Fox Run is a family-owned winery. The highly successful working relationship between Scott, Peter, and Vineyard manager John Kaiser has resulted in spectacular grapes, wines, and successful introductions of state-of-the-art vineyard practices, keeping Fox Run Vineyards on the cutting edge of grape growing and winemaking. Scott is constantly working to improve their environmental impact and has received the Lake Friendly Farm designation from Yates County Soil and Water Conservation. This award is given to farms whose farming practices do not negatively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake. He also installed a 151-Kilowatt solar system which provides 100% of the electrical needs for the winery, tasting room, and café. They have reduced their herbicide and pesticide use and are replacing them with organic and biological sprays that are less impactful on the environment. He has been President of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail two times and a founding member and past President of Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. He is also a founding member of the New York Wine Industry Association, which was founded in 2009 to represent the Wine Industry to educate legislators in Albany on issues that will impact our wineries and vineyards in New York State. He was elected by his peers in the wine industry and is now the New York representative on the Board of Wine America, which is the national advocacy organization for the American Wine Industry in Washington DC. In this episode of Destination on the Left, Scott Osborn, owner of Fox Run Vineyards, joins us to talk about tourism from the perspective of a business owner. He discusses the new challenges and opportunities presented to wineries in the Finger Lakes, and he explains how tourism has impacted the wine business.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Scott’s perspective on tourism as a business owner
  • How tourism has affected the wine business in the Finger Lakes region
  • How Scott helped create an allure for Finger Lakes wine
  • How Scott uses travel patterns to attract visitors in the highly competitive Seneca Lake area
  • What Scott has done to make Fox Run Vineyards stand out from the crowd
  • How collaboration has played a major role in growing the Finger Lakes wine industry
  • How Scott has been able to garner attention from Europeans

Tourism in the Wine Business

Scott Osborn is the owner of Fox Run Vineyards, a family-owned winery on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. As a business owner in a hot destination, Scott has to operate his winery with the big picture in mind. For instance, in his market, the average wine tasting visitor makes five stops. So, Scott and his team crafted Fox Run’s experiences around this pattern and other trends that travelers follow. But these patterns are constantly changing, which presents new opportunities and new challenges. In the this episode of Destination on the Left Scott joins us to discuss the impact of tourism on his industry and he talks about tourism from a business owner’s perspective.

New Trends, New Challenges

With some of the world’s most renowned vineyards located in California, many people develop a preconceived notion about what wine should taste like. But every region has a different style and the cool-climate wines of New York provide an entirely different experience. The Seneca Lake winemakers had to work together, and still do,  to get the word out about their region and their label. But now there are breweries, cideries, and distilleries competing for traveler time and dollars as well. Getting tourists to come to the Finger Lakes and make wine tasting a priority is a much larger challenge than ever before. When Scott Osborn started Fox Run Vineyards, there were about twenty wineries on Seneca Lake. Now, there are over one hundred producing quality and consistency that is appreciated by connoisseurs around the world. It has made it challening to stand out from the crowd and differentiate Fox Run from other wineries in the region.

It’s All About the Experience

In the episode with Paul Soseman, we discussed the concept of experiential marketing in tourism. But it doesn’t always have to be labeled as such. Scott Osborn recognized the opportunity to strike an emotional reaction in his audience; not by forcing a clever campaign on them, but by inviting them to experience a different universe. He built the largest sculpture on Seneca Lake in the form of a massive gate. It draws attention from the main road into town, and when they cross the entrance, they are teleported into a new realm.

Nicole Mahoney: 00:23 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another fascinating guest, Scott, as born owner of Fox run vineyards on Seneca Lake in the finger lakes region of New York state. I love this conversation so much because Scott provided a viewpoint on tourism from the business owner’s perspective. One of my favorite quotes from Scott during this conversation is that as a business owner, you have to be aware of them. [inaudible] picture. He went on to talk about how the average wine tasting visitor makes five stops. Knowing this travel pattern has helped Scott and many of his winery colleagues craft their experiences to serve the visitor. A little more about Scott. He has a Rochester, New York native and his acquisition of Fox run vineyards was the natural combination of his passion for wine and commitment to the industry since the purchase of the winery in 1994 Scott has resided in the beautifully renovated farmhouse, originally built on the property in 1870 initially assuming the responsibilities of wine making along with the myriad of tasks of management, speaking engagements and travel.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:30 He chose to hire a full time wine maker. His selection of Peter Bell in June of 1995 satisfied his desire to engage the most gifted wine maker in the finger lakes region. Their shared vision for quality wine production has freed Scott to the task of managing the winery and planning for its future. Irregularly participates in wine, judgings panel discussions and symposiums dealing with the many challenges of an increasingly sophisticated Appalachian. On Christmas day of 1998 three days after turning 50 Scott married long time sweetheart Ruth Borden and in 2012 Ruth’s sister Kathy and her husband Albert became partners and now Fox run is a family owned winery. The highly successful working relationship between Scott Peter and vineyard manager. John Kaeser has resulted in spectacular grapes, wines and successful introductions of state of the art vineyard practices, keeping Fox run vineyards on the cutting edge of grape growing and wine making.

Nicole Mahoney: 02:35 Scott is constantly working to improve our environmental impact and has received the Lake friendly farm designation from Gates County soil and water conservation. This award is given to farms who whose farming practices do not negatively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake. He also installed 151 kilowatt solar system, which provides 100% of the electrical needs for the winery tasting room and cafe. They have reduced their herbicide and pesticide use and they’re replacing them with organic and biological sprays that are less impactful on the environment. Scott has been president of the Seneca Lake wine trail two times and a founding member and past president of the finger lakes wine Alliance. He is a founding member of the New York wine industry association, which was founded in 2009 to represent the wine industry, to educate legislators in Albany on issues that will impact wineries and vineyards in New York state. He was elected by his peers and the New York wine industry and is now the New York representative on the board of wine America, which is the national advocacy organization for the American wine industry in Washington, D C with all of that experience, you know, this conversation will be good. So let’s get into the interview. Scott, thank you so much for spending some time with us today and I’m really looking forward to getting your insights in this interview. But before we get started, can you share your story in your own words? I find it gives our listeners so much more context.

Scott Osborn: 04:08 Sure. I can do that. Um, it’s all I guess starts, you know, here in, in Rochester, you know, my parents, I grew up here and, uh, decided to God visit friends in California and stayed. And, and while I was out there, I, uh, you know, I got involved in, in the wine business. Then my first job was hand labeling bottles of wine that connect I winery. And then my girlfriend at the time got a job at Firestone. So, you know, I followed her down there and started working on there bottling line and just fell in love with the business. And so decided instead of going back to college to learn how to be a winemaker, that w I would just take job that would teach me how to be a winemaker. And so I, uh, went to Zachary Mesa as their cellar master and then working for Zach and Mesa, the wine maker was starting a winery called Byron, which is pretty well known now.

Scott Osborn: 05:07 And, and uh, yes, me to go over and help him, you know, build and start the winery. So in 19, that was about 1984. And in 1980, I also at that time, came back to visit family over Christmas and discovered cool climate wines. And I had no, now being a wine expert, I decided to go wine tasting in the finger lakes. And you know, back then there were about 20 wineries and, um, aye eventually ended up at Wagner and I tasted their Chardonnay, which was one of the most mind blowing experiences I’ve ever had with wine. And, and, um, it was my first really good, cool climate wine I’d ever had. And it was like an epiphany. And I went back two California, gave my notice and moved back to the finger lakes because I wanted to make cool climate wine. It turned out later that Robert Parker gave this particular wine 95 points, which is cute, you know.

Scott Osborn: 06:13 And, um, but coming back, I, I discovered that, uh, you know, there were only 20 wineries back here and everybody had their own wine makers. And so I eventually got into sale, worked for retailers, worked for a distributor, and, uh, eventually was hired to run Pindar vineyards on long Island, the general manager. And, uh, which was quite interesting because the long Island industry was that at that point was building, you know, there were eight or nine wineries there at that time. And, and I, I was sort of frustrated there cause there wasn’t really anything to do. And I was approached, uh, I was home visiting family and, and, um, I was approached by my first partner to that must buy a winery and a, so we started looking around and Fox run, which had been started, uh, in 1990. It’s when we’re talking 1992 now, those folks gave me a call and said, well, we’re interested in selling the business. So one thing led to another and we bought box run and took over in 93 and purchased it in 1994. Um, but it was interesting at that time, there were, um, only 14 wineries on Seneca Lake and there are two or three of them were, they’re producing really good wine. But you know, overall, you know, the, the quality was hit and miss. And so it was a, that was one of the first challenges that we had. When I, when I purchased the wine.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:42 Yeah. I love how you started in California and, um, you know, before we started this interview, you and I were kind of, um, you know, talking a little bit about how people have questions in their minds about New York state wines, even now as you know, as mature as our wine industry is and how they might compare to California. And I just love that you have that contrast. Having worked in the California wine industry first and then coming here and discovering those cool climate wines, what was that like for you? Like, uh, you know, back in the 80s, of course, we were a much smaller wine industry at the time. Um, you know, and kind of making that transition from the West coast back to the East coast.

Scott Osborn: 08:26 Well, um, you know, I had been drinking California wines all the time. And so I had no, um, I had no idea there were different styles out there because in California, when you were living there, all you drank is California wine, you know, and, and, um, so I, I had these preconceived notions about what, why don’t you to be like, and then came back East discovered this Wagner and started to realize that regions, you know, they all have a different style and, um, you know, the universal style that is at that time, everybody considered was Mmm. It was California, you know, big alcoholic panic wines and, and, um, you know, the elegant wines of Europe were not really so well sold throughout the, the United States with the exception of it here on the East coast was there was a large influx of Italian, French, German wine.

Scott Osborn: 09:28 And um, okay, so the finger lakes fit into that, that particular style. And it’s just a matter of wineries figuring out how to grow their grapes and then having very talented wine makers making incredible wines. And you know, now, you know, throughout our region are Chardonnays and our Rieslings are top of the world. And you know, the reds like Cabernet Pronk and Lindberger are considered some of the best value wines that throughout the, uh, the world in terms of quality and price and a lot of people, the poopoo red red wines. And, and you know, my comment is no, we are not like California. California makes a particular style if you like that style. The a finger lakes red is not necessarily going to be what you like, but what we do here with Cabernet frock and Ledbetter burger is absolutely stunning in terms of elegance and food friendliness.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:34 [inaudible] absolutely. So I think with you, you know, having been in this industry and, and started as you mentioned in the 80s in California and then in the finger lakes, um, you know, the late eighties, early nineties, it sounds like you, you know, are really getting to know the New York state wines. Mmm. You’ve really grown up then with this industry in New York state, haven’t you?

Scott Osborn: 10:59 Yes. Oh yeah. I’m like, I consider myself the second way, you know, the first wave polluted be the Wagners, the Dr. Franks, the nap, the Glenora. No. And then the second way is sort of the Fox run, the Lakewoods, the Anthony roads, you know, uh, there were a whole series of new people coming into the industry and it was, you know, it was small and we had challenges. Um, so, you know, how do you, how do you get your name out there? How do you get the region’s name out there? Uh, you know, how do you make quality wines that are world class? And you know, though all those questions, um, were happening back then. And, and you know, we started working together. Um, you know, Seneca Lake particular, no, there was the Sonic like wine trail and, and the wine makers were getting together, the owners were getting together and we were saying, how do we, you know, how do we get people to show up and how do we get people to understand what our wines are like?

Nicole Mahoney: 12:12 You keep, you’ve talked a little bit about these challenges. Have those challenges kind of changed over time? [inaudible] um, in terms of, you know, the, the problems that you’re trying to solve together as a group?

Scott Osborn: 12:24 Well, uh, yes and no. Um, you know, there’s, I always look at things like this is, you know, there are challenges every year and, and you have to keep, we are evaluating, you know, the pressures that happen. So, you know, back then we were trying to get people to, uh, because there were, you know, so few wineries, we were trying to get people to recognize the fact that, you know, there was a wine region here and that there were some really nice wines being made. Um, you know, nowadays it’s, there’s different challenges. We, you know, we still sort of working on trying to get people to understand and buy finger lakes wines. But now it’s a, it’s a matter of, we have tons of wineries, breweries and cideries, which we [inaudible] and distilleries, which never existed back then and as a tourism destination. And so how do you get more people to come, you know, so that they can all go to, um, you know, to visit these different places. And how do you increase that? And so that challenge has become, um, uh, a much larger than it was, you know, 25 years ago.

Nicole Mahoney: 13:33 [inaudible] yeah. And so you mentioned when you, when you started there about 20 wineries on Seneca Lake, uh, for our listeners sake, how many wineries are there now?

Scott Osborn: 13:45 On Seneca Lake? There’s over a hundred. And, um, there’s breweries, there’s four or five breweries on Sonica Lake, there’s a couple of distilleries. So it’s, it’s been a huge increase and, and places to go. And then what’s interesting is back then, you know, there were just a couple of wineries that were doing really, really good work and consistent work. And, but now, you know, there’s 30 or 40 wineries throughout the finger lakes that make wines that anybody in the world would love to have. [inaudible]

Nicole Mahoney: 14:18 [inaudible] so the, the quality and the consistency has improved immensely.

Scott Osborn: 14:23 Oh, immensely. And, and that also brings about another challenge in that, you know, um, how do you differentiate yourself to the visitor?

Nicole Mahoney: 14:34 [inaudible]

Scott Osborn: 14:34 Oh, how do you, how do you convince that person, you know, who’s coming down here that, you know, because so many people are making such good wine, how do you get that customer to come into your front door? And that’s, that’s a big challenge.

Nicole Mahoney: 14:48 What are some of the creative that, that you’re working on that challenge?

Scott Osborn: 14:53 Well, um, I, I put up a gate. Um, I’ve always wanted a gate and, uh, I was working, talking with a local, uh, artists, Sam caster, and he’s the Y and built the gate. And, uh, so what we have now is the largest sculpture in the finger lakes. That’s a 20 something feet tall and 40 feet wide. And, and it’s real visible as you’re driving down 14. And, and part of the reason that putting in that gate in is so that people actually look and, and go, Oh my God, I have to go in here. And, um, and then we’ve designed it so that there’s, um, when you come up the driveway, I have, um, a maple trees, uh, um, you know, hopefully as they grow and get bigger, you have this long tunnel of trees that you get to drive through. And then when you get up to the parking lot and to my building and everything, it’s, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re leaving one world, which is route 14, and the madness of driving up and down with traffic and everything and you’d drive up and to this place that is going to change, hopefully change your attitude and make you feel wonderful and relax.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:11 Aye. Aye. I just love that how you’re, you know, really keyed in onto the emotion. Right. And, um, what’s really gonna draw draws someone in. I think that’s so creative, especially, you know, you’ve got all that traffic traveling down. Um, as you mentioned, route 14 along the side of, um, Seneca Lake and Utah put this beautiful sculpture and to really draw their attention, but then take it even further and, you know, really try to appeal to their emotions.

Scott Osborn: 16:39 Okay. Yeah. And then, you know, once you get a lot of, I think marketing is changing people’s perception, changing their emotions as you say, and, and putting them in an environment that’s going to do that. And so, you know, we’ve, we’ve tried to landscape, we have a patio so people can like sit and look out over the binds and then we have a deck so they can sit and look out over, over the Lake. Um, you know, there’s lots of wood and light inside the tasting room so that, you know, it’s basically, it’s relaxing and that’s what my, my goal is to have people relax.

Nicole Mahoney: 17:21 Mm.

Scott Osborn: 17:21 You know, and you know, let’s relax and then, and spend a couple hours talking with each other or talking with my staff or whatever, but enjoy life for a few hours in a different state of mind.

Nicole Mahoney: 17:34 [inaudible] that sounds just lovely. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Scott Osborn: 17:41 I know I tried to do it every so often myself.

Nicole Mahoney: 17:45 Right, exactly. Mmm. And so, you know, we’ve, in this conversation, we’ve just kind of dove right in. I do have my regular questions that I ask as my listeners know, and I know you have in front of you, but I love how my conversations on this show always kind of just weave us right into, you know, the topics that we like to cover. And, um, we’ve talked a little bit about some of the challenges and some of the ways that you’re, um, you know, addressing those challenges. Uh, I’m, I’m wondering if, um, there is a challenge or some sort of adversity that may be you have faced or your company has faced. And, and maybe if you could, um, you know, share another example of a solution, a creative solution that has come from that.

Scott Osborn: 18:36 Mmm. You know, we, we talk about changing perception, you know, and, and how people look at either Fox run or, or look at the finger lakes and, uh, you’re, you know, having come from Rochester and I moved down here and you know, I live right on the property and, and um, so back then this was, we’re talking 19, uh, 95, I think right around there. Um, it was really hard to consent people to come to the finger lakes from Rochester. And having lived up there and you know, I, I used to think about the invisible hour, you know, and it seems like people in Rochester would not drive more than an hour for a day trip. Well, one day I drove up to visit my father and I happened to look at the clock before I left and looked at the clock when I got to downtown Rochester and it was 55 minutes.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:35 Hmm.

Scott Osborn: 19:35 And I said to myself, wow, I can probably work with this. So I started radio campaign. Uh, we, uh, we’re only 55 minutes from downtown Rochester, come down and taste some really outstanding wine. Well, my customer account in 1995 was about 18,000 people. And in that one year of that program, I doubled my customer count and most of them were from Rochester. And people would say, well, we didn’t realize how close you were. And I w my, I myself and my staff would then say, well, you know, you’re only two minutes from Anthony road, which is right down here and Anthony road would send people down to pray on. And then so all of a sudden people started to realize that there was a, a wine industry and that it was a perfect day trip for them. So that, uh, that is, what am I? And that goes back to changing perception. Once people realized that we were actually really close, they started to visit and, and you know, our customer count is increased just about every year.

Nicole Mahoney: 20:38 Yeah. Um, I think that’s a really great example. It goes right back to that, you know, changing people’s perceptions. Uh, you know, that we talked about just a few minutes ago and um, [inaudible] really also the experience because they’re, they’re coming out and they, they start with you cause you’re 55 minutes from downtown, but then they realize, Oh, I can have more of a wine experience because now I can go to Anthony road, then I can go to Prejean and, and keep on going. I think that’s just a really great example.

Scott Osborn: 21:08 And we, we, we backed down. We were the first one coming out of Geneva. Now there’s six wineries between me and, and, uh, Geneva. So, you know, when nowadays coming down here, it’s, you know, there’s a huge, the amount of choices that you can make.

Nicole Mahoney: 21:23 [inaudible] it’s even closer.

Scott Osborn: 21:25 Yeah.

Nicole Mahoney: 21:26 Have you seen, um, the types of customers change over the years or where they’re coming from change?

Scott Osborn: 21:33 Uh, yeah, we’ve, we’re starting to get a lot more people from Pennsylvania, uh, New Jersey, New York city, uh, you know, there for years we’d never see anybody from New York city unless they were from Rochester or Syracuse. And we’re living in New York city, but that’s changed over the years. And, um, we, we actually get a lot of European visitors too.

Nicole Mahoney: 21:57 [inaudible] what, what do you think has helped, um, Polian those visitors from, you know, from Europe or even Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York city?

Scott Osborn: 22:08 Well, yeah, I, you know, we, we talk somewhat about collaboration and then into that, within the wine trail and the finger lakes wine Alliance, I think the collaboration and pulling money for marketing and stuff has brought in those people from these other States. Oh, Ohio being another one. But the European thing is pretty interesting because, um, w I had been going with the New York wine and grape foundation to, to Europe doing shows and, and one of the shows that I’d done for like three years in a row, um, and we’re trying to get our wines to be, you know, to be imported into Europe. And, and um, distributors would come up and say, Oh, you know, what’s the importer that we can get your wines from? And then I’d go talk to importers and they would say, well, we’ll bring in three cases and see what it, you know, see if it sells.

Scott Osborn: 22:59 Well, send three cases from Europe. The two are from the United States to Europe. It’s really, really expensive. And so I was talking to a friend and he said, well, listen, you get two or two or three other wineries together and let’s start a company and, and I’ll be the managing partner here in Europe and we’ll import your wines in Europe. And so we did so that we could put together a container. And when you put together a container of wine, the cost of shipping is, is way down. So it allowed our wines to be, um, you know, I had a price point that was, um, easy for Europeans to, uh, you know, to, to buy. And so both John martini from Anthony road and Christmas, like from blonde jello and I, the three of us would go over Europe on a regular basis, each of us at different times.

Scott Osborn: 23:49 And we would do tastings. Like, you know, there’s many liquor stores in New York and they do tastings, wineries come in and taste the wines and stuff. But we started doing that and in wine shops in Europe. And a year after we started doing that, I was in my tasting room and, um, one of one of my tasting room place that, Hey, this person wants to talk to you. And I walked over and said hi. And they said, we, we are from Kat in Belgium and we met you at Melanie’s wine shop and we were so impressed with your wines that we decided to take our vacation in the finger lakes. And that started to happen, you know, just in my case, four or five times a year, I would walk through the tasting room and somebody say, Oh, you know, I met you at such and such a liquor store or wine shop. [inaudible] I don’t know how many of those people that I never spoke to were actually coming. And so this was something where we’ve tried to encourage more and more wineries to get into Europe to do tastings in Europe because the more people that taste our wine, the more people that are going to come visit the finger lakes. And um, it’s a huge, it’s a much bigger number than, than we all thought.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:03 Yeah. I think that’s a, that’s fabulous. And, um, you know, this, this show we really like to focus on tourism and all aspects of tourism. Of course the wine industry is an important part of it. And I’m curious about your take on how, you know, the tourism industry and the wine industry kind of work together. And I mean, what you just described, you know, as a classic example, you’re, you’re over in Europe and you’re promoting your wines and yet it’s also promoting tourism to the region. Um, and I, and I’m curious what, you know, what you’ve seen that has really worked in regards to the wine industry working with the tourism industry?

Scott Osborn: 25:45 Well, um, [inaudible] one of the things I’ve noticed is like, uh, when the finger lakes tourism Alliance, um, focuses then on the wineries, we can see an uptick in tourism and an uptick in people’s, you know, basically staying in hotels and things like that. And I’ve been working a little bit with the Corning, um, group doing waters, waters wines and

Nicole Mahoney: 26:13 well, my blogger in wonders yes.

Scott Osborn: 26:15 And, um, have done tastings in Europe and, and with them. And we’ve seen, um, the, you know, we, we see results from that. And, and I think the more I think people sort of under estimate the impact of the wine industry has on tourism because there are [inaudible] in the U S wine is not a cultural, uh, fabric in Europe. It’s cultural people, um, start at very young ages drinking wine with their parents and, you know, it’s on the table every night. Um, you go into restaurants in Europe and I don’t, I don’t care what kind of restaurant it is, you know, all the way up to your most expensive restaurant. Every table has one classes on it, you know, and that’s very different from what happens in this country. So the more that we can do on an international tourists, like, like that with wine, the more people that we’re going to see coming, coming into here and locally in terms of the United States as wine consumption increases. Um, the more that we can focus on that, um, and the visitation and although, you know, nice hotels and now nice restaurant, really high end restaurants where people, people who drink wine I like to eat.

Nicole Mahoney: 27:38 Hmm.

Scott Osborn: 27:39 And you know, they like to too. They also like to have a local wine with their food. So when somebody in Belgium goes to burgundy, they expect per Gundy in life. You know, when they come to the finger lakes, they expect finger lakes wine. And that’s something that we have to work on is changing the culture in restaurant to be carrying lots of local wines because the consumer who comes in from out of, out of the region is looking for that. Um, they’re looking for that food and wine man.

Nicole Mahoney: 28:14 Yeah. I, I couldn’t, uh, I couldn’t agree more. You know, there’s certain, uh, places even in California, you go into a restaurant in California and they have California wines on the menu and um, there are too many restaurants here in New York state, especially in the finger lakes. When you go into there, uh, into their establishment, they are seriously lacking in New York state wines. Um, which is really a missed opportunity I think for both, um, you know, the wine industry but also for the restaurant industry.

Scott Osborn: 28:46 Correct. And it’s, you know, there’s all sorts of excuses on why they don’t care New York wines. But I will say that there are a lot of, there are a number of restaurants out there that you know, that are incredibly supportive and you know, realize that Mmm. You know, that there are some dependence wines coming out of the finger lakes. Um, and they’ve been putting them on their wine list. But I agree it’s, it’s a challenge. It’s a big [inaudible] if every restaurant and Rochester carried two or three finger lakes wines, our industry would, would explode.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:24 [inaudible] yeah, absolutely. Um, I, I couldn’t agree more and I know that there’s a lot of people that are working on that Mmm. Challenge and trying to change that and [inaudible] as you’ve shared with us and kind of painted the picture for us, things evolve over time, but it takes time, right. To really make those changes

Scott Osborn: 29:45 a long time.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:46 Right. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so we talked a little bit about collaboration, but I did want to back up and talk a little bit more about it. Um, especially, you know, you had mentioned the finger lakes wine Alliance and the Seneca Lake wine trail. And in particular, you know, on this show, I really w one of the things I love about our industry is what I like to call coopertition or, or where perceived competitors come together to create something that’s bigger than they can do on their own. Um, you gave us a really great example of it when you talked about getting into the European market and needing to fill that container and you and two of your, you know, winery could be considered winery competitors got together and created, you know, that, that company in a way to get into Europe. So I’m actually curious if you could share a little bit with our, uh, listeners about how you as Fox run vineyards as a winery, business owner, um, you know, leverage those collaborations and, and work through say the Seneca Lake wine trail or even the finger lakes wine Alliance. How is that really, you know, helping you and your business move forward?

Scott Osborn: 30:53 Well, just the sort of, uh, give, uh, a little background. Uh, you know, one of the things I think that a business person needs to do and no matter how large or how small you are, is you have to be aware of the big picture w w what’s going on in your region, whether it’s politically or economically or with the consumer and the visitor. And so one of the things that we learned very early on, there were a couple of different things, but one is that when people go wine tasting, they visited, um, approximately five wineries. Well, if you start thinking about that, it would be stupid not to cooperate with those five line wineries. Um, so that you can all give the best bang for the buck, so to speak. And give the best experience. And also, you know, people, when they do go wine tasting, you know, they choose different, you know, they, they have tons of different reasons.

Scott Osborn: 31:54 And one of those, you know, we always thought that if we could get them down on the Seneca Lake wine trail, then they would stay on the, the Lake quad trail. Well, after people evolve, they start crossing counties, they start crossing the wine trails. So they may start at Cuca and end up at Cayuga, but they’re going to stop at a number of different wineries along the way. And so originally with the Seneca Lake wine trail, you know, we, all, those of us that decided to join, we knew that we needed to focus on the region, you know, and get people coming to Seneca Lake. And so we started marketing and spending our money to do that. Well, as we, as the industry evolve over the years, we started noticing that people were moving, you know, they would go to [inaudible] Lake and then come to Seneca and then up on K you guy.

Scott Osborn: 32:48 And, but they weren’t necessarily staying to the particular wine trails. And that’s when a group of us decided to form the finger lakes wine Alliance. And that was two get more of the wineries in the region to focus on the region. And instead of the wine trail doing their marketing in Rochester, Syracuse, the finger lakes and corny, no Myra, maybe Buffalo, uh, the finger lakes wine Alliance was start to focus on New York city, Pennsylvania, Ohio. And so broadening the reach of the finger lakes and you know, all of that, those collaborations, you know, became a reality because people were looking at what the customer’s looking at, what the region, you know, what, what’s happening, what are they doing when they come visit. And, and one of the things I’m just thinking of is back in the day, Mmm know there were no major hotels in the finger lakes, uh, or at least in Geneva and penny.

Scott Osborn: 33:59 And, and because so many people were coming to visit. And because so many people couldn’t find a place to stay, hotels started to pop up. And now there’s four or five major hotels in Geneva. And two or three in Penn Yan and, but when you have places for people to stay, you know, you end up getting more visitors and visitors that spend a lot more time and it becomes more than a day trip. So all of that, it comes down to [inaudible] what the industry is doing, what your industry is doing and then working together with people to provide, uh, not only good wines but a good experience. Um, because we’ve, we know that if the last wine or you go to, you have a bad experience, that’s the winery that you’re done remember. And so we tribe real hard as a wine trail and as the wine Alliance to provide training for our staff so that w we’ve make sure that the visitor is going to have a good experience.

Nicole Mahoney: 35:10 I think that’s a such a great point because it’s not just about getting them there, it’s also about the experience and getting them to come back or getting up to tell their friends to come back. And, uh, I love that you’re so focused on the experience and, and to the extent that you recognize, um, you know, together you need to work together to make sure everyone’s experience. Um, you know, [inaudible] is a good one. So, yeah.

Scott Osborn: 35:37 Oh, you know what, one of the things that we do is first, when I hire, I hire, um, I hire people who can smile. I don’t, you know, you can have all the wine knowledge in the world, but if you can’t smile, you can’t work in my tastes. Um, I can teach you everything you want to know about wine, but I can’t teach how to smile. So most of my people are, are hired because they’re outgoing people and, and so that type of person is predisposed to welcome you [inaudible] into our tasting room and then talk to you about wine and talked about where you’re from. You know, well, those are so important. Mmm. In terms of providing a good experience. But one of the other things that I do is, and it’s going to happen on president’s day, but every year on president’s day, aye take all, I rent a bus and I take all my staff and they, they get to choose a wine tour and they go wine tasting.

Scott Osborn: 36:43 Mmm. And they’ll taste five to eight wineries during the day. And my wife and I, or one or two of her managers will stay and run the tasting room. Um, well they go out and learn about the other wineries and, and what the wines taste a lot tastes like because I want them to be able to experience these other wineries so that when you as a customer come in and say, well, well, should I go? And they’re gonna ask you, well, do you like sweeter wines? They like, dryer wise, do you like this, this and that. And then they’ll be able to say, Oh, you know, you’re, you can go to Anthony road, you’d go to Bella Angelo, you could go to Lakewood, go to Wagner, you know, and they’ll be able to, um, because of their experience of experience, these other wines. And wineries, they’ll be able to tell the customer where to go and have a good, have a good experience.

Nicole Mahoney: 37:35 That’s fantastic. I love that you invest the time, um, and your team, uh, to learn about what’s out. You know, what’s out there. It does make them that much better at servicing the customer. And it’s not just about about your winery, it’s about, you know, the entire experience, which I think is, is just great. And I think my favorite quote of this whole conversation has been one that when you started describe your viewpoint on collaboration. When you talked about you have to be aware of the big picture. And I think that’s just so important.

Scott Osborn: 38:13 Oh, totally. Um, because if you don’t know what, uh, what’s going on in the world or in your region, it’s really hard to make decisions on how you know how to run your business and then how to get people would come in and buy it, buy your wines and that you want them to, to at least drive in the door. And if you don’t know, if you don’t know what’s going on, it’s pretty hard to get them in the door.

Nicole Mahoney: 38:39 Absolutely. Well, Scott, this has been an awesome conversation as I knew it would be. Um, do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to share? Is there anything that I didn’t ask ’em that you wanted to share with us?

Scott Osborn: 38:53 Uh, you know, we talked about, or you talked a little bit about, um, how do, how do we decide on, um, you know, advertising or marketing or how do we make those decisions and how do we make the decision to work with a particular company and stuff like that. And, um, one of the things that I had thought of in all of that was, um, you know, and, and, and you’re in this business, so, you know, you go to a business and you make a patch and you know, and, and you try to get [inaudible], you know, this [inaudible], you know, to, to agree to work with you. And, and one of the things that I’ve found over the years is, you know, we, when Kelly, my marketing person or Jessica, my office manager does a lot of buying and stuff and Kelly makes all the decisions on Mmm. You know, at placements where we’re going to do business and things like that. And so somebody will come in, you know, and we’ll all sit down and I will say, you know, Kelly makes the final, final decision and they will spend the whole time talking to me.

Nicole Mahoney: 40:01 Hmm.

Scott Osborn: 40:01 And, you know, and, and I can guarantee that they’re not going to get the job because one, I’m not the one making the decision. So you need to be talking to the person. It needs to be making the decision. And if you don’t talk to her, she’s not, she’s going to say, well, Nope, we’re not going to, we’re not going to go with them because, and they never spoke to me. So I think that’s a big mistake that, um, but some marketing organizations and, and, um, advertising org organizations, uh, make and that they don’t talk to the person who’s making the decision. They’ve talked to the person they think is going to make the decision. So I’ve, that’s one of my little pet peeves that I see. And it continues to happen.

Nicole Mahoney: 40:45 Yeah. I, I think that’s first of all, great leadership on your part that you, you know, have empowered your employees to make those decisions. Um, as a business owner myself, I can relate to that. There. We can’t be in every decision and make the best ones because we just don’t know everything. Um, so I think that that’s fabulous leadership on your part and then, um, yeah, that’s a great point. And actually that circles right back to this whole conversation, which it is, you know, understanding your customer and knowing, you know, who to, who to talk to in those meetings as part of that, understanding the customer and delivering on that experience. And I think that’s a fabulous point because that’s another way that you kind of bring that through in your business. Even when you’re know, when you are the customer, um, that value is so important to you that that’s how you’re making your decisions and that the people who are coming in to sell to you need to recognize that.

Scott Osborn: 41:44 Yeah, that’s a, it’s, it’s really important.

Nicole Mahoney: 41:46 Yeah, absolutely.

Scott Osborn: 41:49 I can’t think anything else. Um, no, unless you have some other questions. I know I work better when people ask me questions.

Nicole Mahoney: 41:57 Yeah. Well I think you’ve provided us some fabulous insights into the industry and in, into, you know, what it’s like to be a winery owner. Um, and I really appreciate you taking the time and sharing all of your insights with us, Scott and uh, we’ll definitely look forward to, uh, staying in touch and, and connecting with you. Again, thank you so much for being with us today.

Scott Osborn: 42:23 Well, you’re welcome to call. It was a, it was wonderful and I hope we can do it again.

Nicole Mahoney: 42:28 Absolutely. Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to tell you about our influencer ebook. It gives you the inside. Look at how my agency break the ice media implements influencer marketing for our tourism clients. The book goes into detail on all of the tools that we use to find ditch, manage, and measure influencers. You’ll find information on key follower benchmarks. How did that influence your channels? Getting your destination partners on board, creating itineraries, managing influence or expectations, and measuring for ROI. Does it break the ice forward slash influencers to download the full ebook. Let’s break the ice forward slash. Influencers.

Speaker 1: 43:16 It’s time to hit the road again. Visit destination on the during your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas.

Speaker 4: 44:01 [inaudible].

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