Eastern Winery Exposition 2024

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Nov 23, 2019
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Eastern Winery Exposition 2024
Syracuse, New York

The Eastern Winery Exposition is for people who own or work at commercial wineries. Most of the classes included topics at EWE are centered on commercial wine making. There were a few attendees who are thinking about starting wineries and a few who just want to learn how commercial winemakers think.

Weather predictions during the days leading up to EWE were glum. Four to eight inches of snow on the ground in Syracuse when we were to arrive. Almost a six hour drive, we left early just in case the weather was a problem. About an hour and a half before arriving we started to see some accumulation on the ground. As it turned out, that was all we saw. Syracuse was snow free, sunny, and predictably cold.

EWE days are filled with break out sessions with trips to the vendor area on day two and three. There are three tracks every day. On Tuesday the tracks were Sustainable and Organic Viticulture and Winemaking, Bottling and Canning, and Money Management. The most interesting of the day's sessions that I sat in was titled Top Mistakes Winery Owner's Make. The speaker was Nova Cadamatre. She is the first female winemaker to hold the Master of Wine designation, one of only twenty five or so women in the USA. Nova owns Trestle 31 winery in Geneva, New York.

This class was mostly about marketing and branding. These are topics that garagistes don't think about. But maybe they should. Not because you're competing in the market place. Rather as a way to index your production against what the pro's are doing.

The first thing she talked about is the cost of goods sold, abbreviated COGS. How much do you pay for grapes, additions (Fermaid, yeast, nutrients, etc.), packaging, and taxes. While we don't pay tax, the rest of the costs are real things for all of us. Knowing these costs on a case or a bottle allows us to compare our wines with the commercial offerings we buy. Are you making a twenty dollar bottle? Are your costs in line with the "competition?” If your costs are out of line, can you step up your game to create a better bottle of wine for the money you invest? These are questions that make you think about what you're doing and why.

Next she addressed branding. Again, not really a thing for the home winemaker. And yet, when you think about the bottles you give away, how important is it that we dress them up with a good looking label? My grandmother was in the food business most of her life. One of the things she taught me is that we eat first with our eyes. Dress your bottle gifts!

Flawed wines: As home winemakers, we bottle our mistakes – if not absolutely terrible – as well as our successes. Nova's advice is don't bottle flawed wine. Personally, I agree. Some things like Brett, can't be fixed. However, if you can fix the flaws, do it before you bottle. Blend, flavor, adjust acids, do whatever you can to fix your wine. Even if you're the only one drinking it, life is too short to drink bad wine.

The rest of Nova's lecture was mostly marketing. While interesting, it doesn't really apply to most of us on WMT. Except the last topic. Cellar palate. She recommends that we taste our regional and local wines. Whether you work with vinifera, hybrids, or native grapes, taste the styles you like. Same goes for country wines and mead. For WMT, that might also mean trading wines with other members to get a better idea of what they're making. Maybe give a bit of perspective on where your friends are coming from.
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