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We're a network of Vermont Chefs, Farmers, Food Artisans, and Diners.

Wine Project

Vermont Wine Marketing Project:

In 2017 and 2018, VFN will be increasing sales of Vermont wines in Vermont restaurants using funding from a Specialty Crop Block Grant and with support from the Vermont Grape & Wine Council. This project has multiple components over its two years: baseline research into the current perceived barriers and opportunities, webinars and written materials that begin to address information gaps, a training in how to organize successful peer-to-peer sensory evaluation systems, trade tastings with Vermont wine buyers and distributors, and restaurant staff field trips to local vineyards in the summer of 2018.  

An initial report on perceived barriers to selling more Vermont wine in Vermont restaurants is complete. It reflects interviews with 21 people in different points of the wine industry, a survey to winemakers, and review of existing research on the topic of Northern Climate wine sales to restaurants. The research was designed to inform the menu of professional development opportunities offered during this grant, not reach definitive answers (as you will see in the report, consensus is. . . elusive). Published in November, 2017. 

Initial Report - Barriers to Vermont Wine Sales in Vermont Restaurants 



Upcoming Events:

Vineyard & Winery Tours

This summer we'll be working with wineries to host tours for restaurant staff. Interested in hosting or visiting? E-mail The first visit will be Lincoln Peak Vineyard on Monday, August 13th from 1:00 - 3:00pm. Details are posted here.

Tasting Panels with Restaurants - Part 2 

In our second tasting we will focus on ice cider, ice wine, mead, fruit (other than grape) wines - some less familiar items, usually sweeter, that may find a different place on the menu. Coming this fall. Stay tuned for details.

Previous Events:

Tasting Panels with Restaurant Wine Buyers

Monday, April 30th, The Essex Resort

The Vermont Fresh Network and the Vermont Grape & Wine Council hosted an event for Vermont winemakers interested in increasing their wine sales to Vermont restaurants on April 30th at The Essex Resort. The event used the sensory evaluation framework designed by Cornell Extension (scroll down for notes on that workshop) in panels of mixed winemakers and restaurant wine buyers as a starting point for discussing Vermont wines in a restaurant setting. Because this event combined public information with confidential discussions, we do not have a full report. However, some general observations by the restaurant buyers were recorded in these notesThank you to The Essex resort for donating the space for this workshop. 

Celebrating Vermont Wines in March 


During the week of March 24 - 31. Vermont wineries and cideries will be showcasing their craft at winemaker dinners, tastings, and other events hosted by VFN member restaurants and tasting rooms at over nineteen locations from Manchester to Burlington. You can explore all the possibilities at our agricultural and culinary tourism website [This project now closed, but let us know if you are looking for materials from the week - contact]

Field Trip to Eden Specialty Ciders

West Charleston and Newport VT
Monday, February 12th
We followed up with Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders after our trip to get more of her thoughts on best ways to promote ice cider in restaurants here in Vermont. Check out this post  with what she told us. This summer there will be another chance for field trips to Vermont vineyards, e-mail to get on the list for announcements when these are scheduled (they will also appear on this webpage and in the Fresh Insider).
You can always sample and learn about Ice Cider at the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in Newport, VT

Telling Your Winery's Story

Wednesday, December 13th, 8:30 - 10:00 am

Part of the value of a Vermont wine is a personal connection and sense of the larger story behind each bottle. That's true for wine buyers at restaurants as much as individuals at the store or visitors who might travel to your vineyard. This webinar looks at ways to tell stories that bring value to your wine.

The webinar will include:

  • An brief overview of tools available for communicating your winery's unique story through both online and traditional media
  • More detailed discussion of earned media and working with food / travel / wine writers
Presenting will be FM Munoz, Director of Marketing at Vermont Creamery, and Todd Trzaskos from VT Wine Media

Notes from this webinar:

  • Overall notes, in PDF handout form (this is a heavily revised version of FM's presentation that brings in the first half of the webinar)
  • FM's presentation is here


Cornell Workshop - Framework for Sensory Evaluation

Chris Gerling of Cornell Extension will be leading a workshop for winemakers on how to set up systems of peer-to-peer sensory evaluation for their wines. He will be joined by Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards and Dave Breeden of Sheldrake Point Winery. 
This workshop will address not only systems for evaluating wine, but the structure that has worked in New York for hosting useful, constructive evaluation sessions between winemaking colleagues. We will be tasting wine from Vermont attendees for evaluations during the workshop (see registration for details if you would like your wine to be tasted). 
Thank you to the Residence at Quarry Hill, Hotel Vermont and Farrell Distributing for their additional support for this event.

Webinar: Wine Distribution and Vermont Restaurants


An introduction to wine distribution and restaurant sales in Vermont, discussing:

*How to evaluate using different distributors (or self distribute) 
*How to work in complement with your distributor to maximize sales  
*Opportunities for Q&A.
Our speakers came from Farrell Distributing but will be speaking about Vermont distribution options more broadly. Speakers are Ryan Chaffin, Don MacDonald, Stuart Timmons. 
If we want to get legal, here are the primary guidances regarding a winemaker's relationship with a distributor:


This project and its publications are supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant #02200-SCBGP-12-5, a Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views of the USDA. 

Thank you to Flavor Plate for donating their time and effort to the design and co-development of our website.