Vineyards on Cayuga Lake. Courtesy

Wineries in New York’s Finger Lakes Region are adapting marketing procedures during the Coronavirus pandemic. Tasting rooms are offering curbside pickup options and are featuring online ordering specials.

“I am in awe of our Finger Lakes wineries. They have completely redesigned their 2020 marketing activities since New York went into PAUSE mode mid-March” states Carmela Barbagallo, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. Curbside pickup and online sales have grown and the wineries are grateful for an outpouring of support from their customers, wine club members, retail and restaurant partners.

“Many of the Finger Lakes wineries are family-run operations. We have seen them embrace this new operating environment with agility and grace whether or not they have a dedicated marketing department. Finger Lakes wineries are finding innovative ways to connect with their customers and provide hope, entertainment and some good old-fashioned fun” states Barbagallo. Anthony Road Wine Company on Seneca Lake recently hosted a trivia night led by their winemaker Peter Becraft and his chocolatier wife, Cary Becraft. “Peter’s dry humor and Cary’s infectious laughter delighted participants. Each round is sponsored by an Anthony Road wine. I joined in during the “Lemberger” Round on Tuesday night” stated Barbagallo. They have had teams from all over the U.S. participating.

Another Seneca Lake winery, Lakewood Vineyards has truly embraced marketing via digital platforms. The Lakewood team has filmed an educational walk in the vineyard with General Manager, Liz Stamp, and are running a wine pairing with takeout food series in support of local restaurants. They have implemented a Chopped-style cooking competition called COOK & CORK. Each week, Lakewood features 3 staffers competing to prepare a meal with a recent “episode” featuring 3 generations of employees. The good-natured competitiveness shines as Bev Stamp, the family matriarch, competes against her son and grandson to design a meal to pair with their 3 Generations Riesling. As a reminder, these are winemakers, not chefs! Everyone is wearing different hats during this pandemic.

Jeanne Wiltberger, from Keuka Springs Winery on Keuka Lake shared “we definitely had to pivot our marketing and sales initiatives. It is unique to see how much people are looking for a connection. We realized that is a big part of who we are and what we do – we make connections with people. Right now, people are finding new ways to make connections. We sent an email to our community to advertise stay-at-home shipping specials and we received an amazing response. I added a note that folks could reach out if they just wanted to say hello” said Wiltberger. “People called and sent messages online. We were able to connect with people we haven’t talked to in years. Folks reckoned back to positive memories of our winery when they called to order wine. The connection with people is such a great part of the wine business and we feel fortunate to experience this right now”.

Weis Vineyards on Keuka Lake embraced virtual tastings as a way to connect with their customers. Partners Ashlee and Peter Weis offer dynamic, playful educational sessions which include Ashelee’s baking videos. They have such great chemistry in their videos and customers are responding positively via Facebook live comments and online orders. “We have had such a wonderful time engaging with our wonderful customers online. We miss seeing everyone in the tasting room and are so grateful we are able to stay in touch. We decided to offer our virtual tastings as a way to stay connected, which we think is so important for everyone!  It is so fun to see people engage with Peter in a way they normally don’t have a chance to, and I love peppering him with questions! We decided to add in a few baking videos because I love to bake and I think it can be such a relaxing and rewarding hobby. Any way that we can add some fun to peoples’ lives right now, is where we want to focus our time” states Ashlee Weis.

“As Finger Lakes wineries evolve their marketing procedures, they have been touched at the outpouring of support from customers near and far. It’s true that spending money locally can help keep small businesses afloat during these trying times” states Barbagallo.


About Finger Lakes Wine Alliance

Founded in 2004, Finger Lakes Wine Alliance is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to increase the visibility and reputation of the Finger Lakes region, its wines and wineries. The alliance is comprised of 31 members and 15 affiliated businesses and vendors, and it is guided by a board of directors comprised of principals representing all four wine trails and non-wine trail wineries of the Finger Lakes. The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance offers a wide range of programs to its members that include coordinating wine submissions for review by trade publications, presenting seminars on best practices in social media and online marketing, and a number of local and national events that increase visibility for Finger Lakes Wines.

With its glacier-sculpted landscapes, ideal microclimates and gifted winegrowers, the Finger Lakes region is home to over 100 wineries that produce exceptional cool-climate wines and world-class Rieslings. For more information, visit, call 585.993.1325 or connect on Facebook or Instagram.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *