Letter of Support
Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
116 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
Increasing the Competitiveness of Vermont Wine Industry in Vermont Restaurants
My name is Ryan Chaffin and I am the Director of Marketing for Farrell Distributing. Farrell Distributing has been providing premium beverages in Vermont for over 80 years. We represent a diverse and large portfolio from some of the top national, regional, imported and of course local. Our made in Vermont portfolio today represents over 30 manufactures between beer, wine, cider, mead, and snacks. Our made in Vermont portfolio also makes up over 700 jobs here in the state between Farrell and our partners, something we are very proud to say. Over a dozen of those VT partners are ones that make delicious, local wine and hard cider.
We view this grant as integral for the Vermont wine industry’s success in the coming years. Vermont consumers view themselves as highly educated consumers who focus on quality and authenticity. Other domestic wine growing regions such as California and Oregon have spent millions of dollars and years of their time marketing their wines to consumers on a national level. Vermont consumers likely know more about wine made halfway around the globe than wine made down the street from them. Vermont consumers are thirsty for knowledge about Vermont-made products and agriculture but Vermont wine seems to be in a blind spot. Public exposure and educational tastings and seminars are necessary to show consumers that Vermont wineries are authentic. But we must go beyond that. Here at Farrell Distributing we are investing in educational channels to help educate not only our staff, but also the staffs of our restaurant and bar accounts. Highly knowledgeable sales people will help educate their customers, who will take that information with them and share it with friends. The Vermont Fresh Network has been a strong and salient partner for Vermont’s finest farm-to-table restaurants, enriching the relationship between farmers and consumers. They are already positioned in the right channels to best assist Vermont winemakers in the goal of increased restaurant exposure and consumer education.
The inclusion of Vermont winemaking into the fold of “local agriculture” will lead to an increased demand for Vermont wines when consumers are eating at farm-to-table restaurants. The Vermont Fresh Network has the ear of Vermont farm-to-table chefs and restaurateurs, making them the ideal candidate to assist Vermont wine makers in this regard. Having local options with local food can be successful if the industry and consumer are better educated about what is produced here. The Vermont Fresh Network is best suited to advancing this agenda. We encourage the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program to endorse this grant.
Director of Marketing
Curator of the Curriculum