CAMDEN, Maine — Maine wine and spirit makers face an acclivous action to win bazaar share, but they are affable the challenge.
C.C. Peet of Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, Steve Linne of Blacksmiths Winery in South Casco, Bob Bartlett of Bartlett’s Winery in Gouldsboro and Bob Harkins of Algid River Vodka in Freeport abundant the challenges of the wine and spirit business during a console altercation Saturday at the fourth anniversary Maine Fare celebration.
Maine Fare’s ambition is to abetment in preserving, attention and administration Maine’s comestible history and resources. The accident accent Maine articles through console discussions, tastings, exhibits and samplings. The wine and spirit console was chastened by Jack Scully of Belfast’s Easterly Wine.
All agreed that the key affair they accept alive for them is the Maine brand. Whether business wine or spirits, accepting a artefact that is fabricated in Maine makes it easier to allure buyers.
“There is a amazing adherence to Maine-made and -grown foods,” Scully said. “The achievability for advance in the wine and spirit acreage is terrific. I anticipate the advance of Maine articles both central the accompaniment and alfresco the accompaniment has abundant potential.”
All three vintners said that because wine has a assertive “snob factor,” it’s difficult to argue buyers that wines fabricated of blueberries and added fruits can bout up with grape wines from France or California. Bartlett, who has been in the business added than 30 years, said some wine drinkers are afraid to sample his wines artlessly because they are fabricated from fruit. He said alive with restaurants alone is one way of advantageous that problem.
“The affection is there, it’s the business that has to be addressed,” he said. “We like to accept a chat with chefs, but it’s tough.”
Bartlett said agrarian blueberries and apples abound able-bodied in Maine and action the best befalling to advance a bounded product. He said he approved to abound grapes a decade ago but did not accept abundant success.
Linne said accession way to advance their artefact is to put added accomplishment into acceptable barter to sample their wines. He said wine buyers are alert about authoritative mistakes back selecting a best so they tend to stick with acceptable vintages and vineyards. It is abundant safer to acclaim a wine from California than a bake-apple wine from Maine. He acclaimed that Maine-made wines represent about 0.8 percent of all-embracing wine sales in the state.
“The affair with wine is bodies don’t appetite to accomplish a aberration and that translates to the distributor, the restaurant buyer and the server,” Linne said. “If you appetite to abound in the wine bazaar we charge to drive barter to our tasting rooms.”
Harkins said he has been acknowledged business Algid River Vodka in the accompaniment but has run into stronger antagonism in states area administration is controlled by ample corporations. He said the actuality that his artefact is fabricated from Maine potatoes and authentic bounce baptize gives it a aftertaste all its own. He said restaurant owners like the aftertaste and are advising it added and more.
“Those ample distributors tend to advance their own brands while the little guy is in the bend of the barn is acquisition dust,” Harkins said. “We do not attempt on amount at all, we attempt on quality. … We appetite to become a civic and all-embracing brand. We’re in 19 states and Canada. We try to get on specialty alcohol lists. You get on a alcohol account and you’re activity to advertise a lot of vodka or wine.”
Peet said Cellardoor’s wines are fabricated from grapes alien from added growing regions. She said Maine’s algid winters and air-conditioned summers are not accessory to wine grapes, although the winery this year buried a amalgam grape from Wisconsin and it should apperceive in three years whether the grapes will be acceptable for authoritative wine. Heat is bare to antithesis the acids and sugars in grapes, and air-conditioned summers accomplish that difficult. In addition, one astringent winter can ruin advance in a vineyard.
“We accept to get accomplished the stigma that [wine] has to be developed locally,” Peet said. “I don’t anticipate all Maine wines will be from Maine grapes. We accept to acceptation the grapes to accomplish it work.”
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