Drink Local…Learn Local

Life is like an adventure book, you may guess what will be on the next page but it still surprises you every time you flip the page, and that’s what makes you keep on reading.

One of my classes this semester is Senior Practicum for my Communication major with Dr. Chirco. Each student is required to do at least two informational interviews, in which we can learn more about the industry that we’re interested in and ask for feedback on our application profile. ‘What a great opportunity!’ I thought. I knew it right away that I wanted to interview someone in wine industry. At the same time, it would be sweet if I could use this chance to enrich my understanding and gain more insights in the wine market, since I’m also studying Wine Marketing as my independent study course. Thanks to my marketing professor David Romm, I was introduced to Art Hunt, the fifth-generation owner of Hunt Country Vineyards.

The Finger Lakes area is New York’s largest wine producing region, so it’s perfect that I could use this advantage to accommodate with my study at Keuka College and satisfy my passion for wine. Just two days ago, I had my first meeting and also my first interview with Art Hunt at their tasting room. Right after I came inside, I was impressed by their friendly staff and the welcoming atmosphere. “You must be Zip?” Art came and greeted me. I’m always surprised by how active and strong older American people are, though they might be at about my grandparents’ age. Art is one of them. He enjoyed reading my resumé and seeing what I had accomplished while helping me understand more about the wine industry from his own experience. Not only did he ‘lecture’ me but Art also toured me around his winery to see how wine was produced and offered me wine tasting. Admittedly, their wines were delicious! My favorites were Vidal Blanc Ice Wine and Hunter’s Red, but I actually ended up buying their Vignoles instead since it was good with Asian spicy food. At the end of the ‘interview’, Art suggested that I come with him and his wife, Joyce Hunt, to attend the B.E.V. NY conference in Rochester on this Thursday-today, which is New York’s annual conference for the grape and wine industry, focusing on wine business, enology and viticulture.

7 a.m.

We were departing from Keuka College to RIT Inn and Conference Center. I was so thrilled because B.E.V. NY could be a great introduction for me to the wine industry since it is held by Cornell’s Extension Enology Lab, the Finger Lakes Grape Program, members of Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and School of Hotel Management. This year, B.E.V. NY program features experts from academic institutions including Cornell, Penn State, Sonoma State, Finger Lakes Community College and Tompkins County Community College, among others, covering topics from barrel sanitation and weed management to business planning and tasting room sales.

At the conference, I got to meet so many other successful people in the industry: business people, winemakers, wine distributors, academic professors, etc. I also attended a series of presentations from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m., but still remained extremely alert and full of energy at the end of the day since these subjects were so fascinating. Some of my most favorite presentations were Climate Change and Wine Economics by Karl Storchmann, Content Marketing for FLX Wineries by Brandon Seager, Selling Wine to Restaurants by Cheryl Stanley, to name a few.

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Art and Joyce Hunt, founders and owners of Hunt Country Vineyards. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Hunt, I got to know so many successful people and gain lots of eye-opening wine knowledge. I’m so blessed!
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Mark Wiltberger, owner of Cool Climate Custom Crush, LLC. Mark is very friendly. He also suggested helping me with my other informational interview and welcome me any time.
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Karl Storchmann, Dept. of Economics, New York University. Karl has a very good business mind. His presentation on Climate Change and Wine Economics provided a number of valuable findings and statistics for today’s wine market. Yet he has a great sense of humor!

Not until around 7:30 p.m. did I get back to Keuka College. Such an experience! I couldn’t help but kept thinking about the power of networking and how it could bring us unexpectedly wonderful things in life. Just like how curious and excited we feel each time flipping the page of an adventure book.



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