License to Steal

By Michael Kaiser

Last week I had the pleasure of attending License to Steal, the National Wine Marketing Conference. The conference was held at the Lodge and Conference Center in Geneva State Park in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio. Located right on the shores of Lake Erie, Geneva is home to many wineries in OH. The Grand River Valley appellation is perfect for growing Riesling and other varietals such as Cabernet Franc and Vidal Blanc.

License to Steal is the brainchild of Donniella Winchell, the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association (and long time champion of WineAmerica). It is the first wine conference completely devoted to marketing. The marketing directors from several state associations organize the topics and content of the conference. This year Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York all had a hand in developing the agenda for the conference. Wineries from Maryland to Texas were in attendance.

I was a featured speaker on the second day of the the conference. My topic of discussion was the CARE Act and other federal issues that will impact the wine industry. I also discussed the importance of joining WineAmerica. It was great to see so many members in attendance.

The License to Steal Conference is an important tool for any winery, no matter the size, to learn how to better market themselves to consumers and retailers. Social media dominated the discussion, as expected. Facebook and Twitter have really surged in use by wineries and License to Steal can teach wineries how to really use those programs to reach out to their consumers. I urge any winery looking to change or improve their marketing practices to attend License to Steal next year.

On my way back to the Cleveland airport I stopped at Ferrante Winery. Ferrante is a long time WineAmerica Member. Nick Ferrante, who is a third generation winemaker at the winery, and has become known for his Rieslings. If you are ever in that area of Ohio I urge to to stop at Ferrante Winery and all of the other great wineries in the region.

This week it is on to the Pennsylvania Wineries Association meeting. I’ll have a report on that later in the week.

Government Shutdown Will Include TTB

With the very real possibility of a government shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations, the TTB has issued guidelines for their shutdown procedure. The attached link has all of the information. If you have any questions please contact us.

TTB Government Shutdown Plans

WineAmerica Signs Letter Requesting Continuing Funding of USDA Research

April 1, 2011

The Honorable Harold Rogers The Honorable Norm Dicks
Chairman and Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Dicks:

The undersigned organizations represent a broad coalition that is extremely concerned about the elimination of vital research funding for American agriculture under the most recent Continuing Resolution.

Under House Joint Resolution 48, funding was eliminated for the remainder of the year for all special research grants under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and all “Congressionally directed” research projects in the ARS budget. The total amount of this account for FY 2011 was $89 million from the NIFA budget and $42 million from the ARS budget, which is a small sum in comparison to the overall federal budget, but a critical amount considering the essential research being conducted in almost every state. Moreover, these research efforts support jobs and future technological advancements that will help our country maintain its ability to address future global food security issues.

Specifically, NIFA and ARS funding supports vital research essential to combat pests and diseases, address food safety and security issues, environmental compliance, and to enhance the nutritional value of certain crops. Additionally, the beneficial impact of the vital funding that effective agricultural research can deliver has been identified as a 30 to 1 return on investment for the American taxpayer. What makes this situation even worse is that NIFA and ARS are allowed no alternatives to achieve savings. Rather, they are directed to target and eliminate “Congressionally-directed” research projects without regard for the importance of, or the need for, the research being conducted.

Though we are respectful of the difficult task that confronts Congress and the important efforts that have been taken to begin to reducing our federal deficit, we believe that the costs of eliminating this funding, and thereby these research functions, far outweigh any immediate benefit in regard to spending reduction. In the future, the funds that the federal government will need to provide to fill this void, particularly in the area of pest and disease eradication will far exceed the small yet vital investment that these competitive
grants currently receive.
We respectfully ask that a funding level equal to that in FY2010 be provided for these essential activities.

Thank you for considering this important issue.


American Nursery and Landscape Association
Blue Diamond Growers
California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers
California Grape and Tree Fruit League
California Table Grape Commission
Cal/West Seeds
Cape Cod Cranberry Growers
Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association
Del Monte Foods
Empire State Potato Growers
Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association
Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
Idaho Grower Shippers Association
Idaho Potato Commission
Maine Potato Board
Michigan Carrot Development Program
Michigan Potato Industry Commission
National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Aquaculture Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Grape and Wine Initiative
National Grape Cooperative Association/Welch’s
National Milk Producers Federation
National Potato Council
National Watermelon Association
Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Northwest Agri Products
Northwest Horticultural Council
Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.
Oregon Potato Commission
Produce Marketing Association
Seneca Foods Corporation
Society of American Florists
Texas Produce Association
United Fresh Produce Association
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Dry Bean Council
Washington State Hay Growers Association
Washington State Potato Commission
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers
Western Pistachio Association
Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine
Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association
Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Wineries Unlimited Wrap-Up

By Michael Kaiser

Last week the 35th Annual Wineries Unlimited Trade Show and Conference, presented by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine was held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia. The 2011 Conference was the first to be held in Virginia and it did not disappoint. The Virginia wine industry really embraced the Conference and showed why it is one of the most important wine states in the country.

Wineries Unlimited is always a good conference for WineAmerica. We see a lot of old friends and we get to make some new ones. This year was no different. As always, we shared a booth on the trade show floor with the WineAmerica Insurance Administrators who were excited to talk about their new insurance program. Their new underwriters (Markel) are located in the Richmond area. The trade show was an excellent way for us to illustrate why wineries should belong to WineAmerica.

From viticulture and enology to marketing, Wineries Unlimited is a very good way for existing and new wineries to learn how to make their business more successful. Jim Trezise, the president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (and WineAmerica Executive Committee and Board Member) gave the keynote address at the conference. Additionally, at the Best of the East Grand Gala, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia was the featured speaker. The Governor and First Lady of Virginia have been huge supporters of the Virginia Wine Industry since he took office in January 2010. This March, during Virginia Wine Week, the first lady planted Chambourcin vines at the Virginia Governor’s Mansion and they hope to turn that into a wine. Todd Haymore, the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture, also spoke at the Gala. His presentation focused on how the Virginia wine industry has grown in recent years.

The slogan for Wineries Unlimited 2011 was: “Virginia is for Wine Lovers” and the program and attendance confirms that. We look forward to the 36th conference in 2012.

I hope to see some of you at the “License to Steal” wine marketing conference next week in Geneva, Ohio. I will be a featured speaker.