This story originally appeared in Wine Industry Network Advisor.
Running a wine association takes a tireless multi-tasker. The job is a combination of strategy, business development, marketing, finance and politics. It takes understanding the needs of the association, as well as the community as a whole. It is about managing the desires of a diverse group, from large producers to small producers.
Morgen McLaughlin knows this all too well. She has spent time on both coasts running wine associations, first working with the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association in Upstate New York and now on the west coast as the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Vintners Association.
McLaughlin was raised in Connecticut, not exactly in wine country. But, in 1978, when she was six years old, her parents started a winery and vineyard on the family property. With a farm on the property, a winery was a value add to their lifestyle. From that point on, she grew up riding tractors and working harvest and all associated wine activities. In response, McLaughlin had no interest in working in the wine industry. “I wanted to do the opposite,” she explained. “I wanted to get off the farm and get away from family so I went to school in Boston and studied to be high school English teacher.”
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (January 29, 2016)
As snow blankets the East Coast, I have been reminiscing about my trip this past summer to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. As a Californian, the idea that wine, let alone good wine, is made on the East Coast was not something I thought much about. But, after spending a week exploring the region, not only can we can say “This is really good for New York wine” but we can say “This is really good wine.”
There are more than 100 varieties of grapes grown in the Finger Lakes. There are native and hybrid grapes aplenty, but riesling is one of the key grapes in the region. With about 135 wineries in the Finger Lakes AVA, the majority of the wineries produce 5,000 cases or less, and there are only five producers that produce larger quantities between 30,000 and 70,000. Many winemakers have come to the area as they saw the possibility of the region and three wineries really stood out as demonstrating the potential of the wines from the Finger Lakes.