Last year, New York State passed a law that allows wineries to open up stores off site to sell wine and other products. It's a big opportunity for some smaller North Country wineries that are off the beaten path. It’s a chance to get the product in a more populated area. It's also expected to help create hundreds of jobs over the next ten years. As our Brian Dwyer reports, a North Country college is now helping students get some experience.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- Phil Randazzo says his new space on Riverside Drive in Clayton will be key in growing his business. New York State law now allows winery owners like Randazzo to open off-site stores.
It's important because his winery, Coyote Moon, is kind of out of the way in Clayton. His new store, set to open in May, is right on the main road in a huge tourist village.
"It becomes an additional tasting room for us," Randazzo said. "We see it as an advertising vehicle to send people out to the winery and sell our wine products, of course."
And of course, as the wineries grow, people will be needed to work there. The growth combined with the new law is expected to create hundreds of jobs.
So in order to help its students get a step ahead, Jefferson Community College in Watertown is teaming up with local wineries to offer a complete wine program.
"You learn everything from how to grow grapes through developing a full winery where you might have group tours, have a conference business, cater weddings," JCC Dean for Business Vicki Quigley said. "It's the whole spectrum of not only management and marketing, but also the practical farming elements of developing a winery."
"Anybody that's got any background what so ever is just a step ahead over someone who doesn't, of course. We teach people from scratch now because we have to, but as this program develops, more and more it'll be just that much easier to hire someone that has a little background and understanding of the industry," Randazzo added.
In fact, Coyote Moon's tasting room manager was one of the program's first students.
"She touched base on some different things that I didn't even know," Amy Getman said. "I'm behind the bar doing tastings, describing our wines to people and it's just some overall stuff that you can do out in the vineyards, out in the winery that we have job opportunities for."
And JCC says marketing and sales experience could soon be very handy as it looks like state wines will now be sold in the Far East. The Small Business Development Center has reached an agreement with Chinese agencies to open a wine outlet in the Shanghai free trade zone. That could mean introducing local wines to the 1.3 billion wine drinkers in China.
JCC will begin offering this program again during the upcoming fall semester. But there are a few abbreviated courses being offered sooner, including an introductory one that starts a week from Tuesday.