ALBANY — The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) today announced the launch of a new social media campaign to promote New York State’s growing Concord grape industry. The marketing effort is funded by a $50,000 Specialty Crop Block Grant announced by Governor Cuomo following the first-ever New York State Concord Grape Summit in 2018. It is one of several steps being taken to help strengthen the industry, expand research, invest in new product and new market development, and expand marketing and promotional programs to encourage increased growth in this sector.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We are excited about this new research and marketing effort, which aims to open new markets for both Concord grape growers and processors, while boosting the agricultural community, contributing to the economy and creating new jobs in Upstate New York. Opening new markets and expanding access to bulk juice for out-of-state wineries will benefit our growers and producers while also giving consumers more choices when they’re shopping for wine.”
The NYWGF’s social media ads, which launch on Facebook Tuesday, were created after conducting stakeholder outreach and comprehensive market research. They are part of a cohesive media strategy to lay out a roadmap for supporting the State’s Concord industry. The campaign promotes the Concord grape industry’s long-term success by bolstering bulk juice sales to out-of-state buyers, amplifying market recognition and generating increased business for New York State’s juice processors and grape growers.
New York Wine & Grape Foundation Executive Director Sam Filler said, “This marketing campaign, and the outreach and research that led up to up, allows us to help strengthen New York’s grape industry with key insights we’re putting to use for our State’s growers. Grape growers in Western New York and the Finger Lakes need resources to keep their production in demand and marketable to enhance profitability. These growers have been instrumental to the rise of the wine grape industry and we at the Foundation aim to provide as many strategic resources as possible in support of their ongoing efforts and excellence.”
Western New York Concord Grape Grower Dawn Betts said, “We think it’s fabulous that this is helping promote the industry. We support all programs that help grow and market the Concord grape industry, and we’re thankful for the funding behind this program.”
The campaign taps into market opportunities for small to mid-sized wineries that are decisive about using Concord grapes and as well as those that have not yet considered using Concord grapes as an additional source of revenue.
Currently, there are 1,609 U.S. wineries that do not make Concord grape-based wines or grow Concord grapes. The bulk of those wineries are in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, and NYWFG will target those areas to introduce new vendors to Concord grapes.
The ads highlight the ease of accessing New York State grown Concord grape juice and the opportunity to boost profits with quality products, using a variety of taglines like, “If you want a big seller, you don’t need a big cellar.”
The effort complements several initiatives supported by Governor Cuomo to grow the State’s Concord grape industry, including a $1.3 million investment in the Vineyard Improvement Program to help growers renovate their vineyards, diversify operations and plant new grape varieties, increase production and enhance profitability.
New York is the nation’s second largest Concord grape producer, and the Lake Erie Concord Belt is the oldest and largest Concord grape growing region in the world. About 30,000 acres of grape vineyards are located along the belt with the majority growing in New York State. The Concord variety is used in the production of many value-added products, including grape juice, jellies and marmalades, and wine.
A study conducted by the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, with assistance from Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University, estimated that each year, growers in the Concord Grape Belt produce 150,000 tons or more of Concord grapes. Grape-related production activities like growing, processing and winemaking support nearly 2,000 jobs and contribute $340 million in total economic impact.
The Concord Grape Summit, first announced in the Governor’s 2018-19 State of the State address, brought together stakeholders to discuss new developments and strategies to enhance New York’s Concord grape industry. As a result, the state has undertaken several new efforts to connect growers to new markets, including:
- Hosting Grape Day at the Great New York State Fair to introduce consumers to Concord grape products and educate people about the history and importance of grapes to New York agriculture.
- Launching a $114,000 Market Development Grants Program to support new Concord marketing opportunities and institutional purchasing of grape juice. Grants were provided to American Farmland Trust, GrowNYC and NY Wine and Grape Foundation to promote the use of Concord grapes in schools, restaurants and the craft beverage industry.
- Increasing grape industry representation at domestic and international trade shows, including events in Chicago, Orlando and New York City.
- Planning a workshop on export opportunities and marketing assistance for the industry.
- Holding special promotional events, like the Concord Crush Happy Hour, in coordination with Grow NYC in New York City, to provide sourcing information to restaurants and other buyers for Concord grapes and juices, and to present new Concord grape products to consumers in the marketplace.
- Releasing the first-ever seedless Concord grape, Everest Seedless, from Cornell CALS grape breeding program, which is supported by the state of New York.
- Increasing institutional purchases of the State’s Concord grape juice.
About The New York Wine & Grape Foundation
The New York Wine & Grape Foundation promotes the world-class image of New York grapes and wines from the state’s diverse regions to responsibly benefit farmers, producers and consumers through innovative marketing, research, communication, and advocacy. Learn more at www.newyorkwines.org.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
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