Wine industry awards honor Arbor Hill’s John Brahm III, others

The late John Brahm III, founder of Arbor Hill Grapery and Winery in South Bristol, Ontario County, was honored at the Unity Awards Banquet Wednesday on the opening day of a wine industry conference in Henrietta.

Brahm, who also founded Brew And Brats, died as the result of an accident at his home in 2019, just a few days after he attended last year’s BEV NY conference. His family accepted on his behalf the Jim Trezise Lifetime Award recognizing his contributions to the industry.  The NY Wine and Grape Foundation, which presents the Unity Awards, announced that it was renaming its annual grower award for Brahm.

John H. Brahm III
John H. Brahm III

In presenting the lifetime award, Trezise said Brahm was a creative man who always had new ideas. “He had more lightbulbs in his mind than GE ever created,” he said. Brahm also was a friend, mentor and supporter to many in the Finger Lakes wine industry, Trezise said, recalling how Brahm had helped him overcome some hostile attitudes when he first arrived in the area in 1982 as director of the then-brand-new NY Wine & Grape Foundation. After working in that job for many years, Trezise moved to a national wine organization.

“We all carry a piece of him in our hearts and souls,” Trezise said.

The NYWGF also presented 10 other awards, with six of them going to businesses, people or organizations represented in the Finger Lakes region, the state’s largest wine region.

The local winners were:

  • Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards on the west side of Seneca Lake, won the Jim Finkle Industry Award, which recognizes outstanding wine industry achievements not covered by other awards.
  • Boundary Breaks Vineyard, on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, won the Winery Award.
  • Hans Walter-Peterson, head of the Finger Lakes grape program for Cornell Cooperative Extension, won the Researcher Award.
  • Hunt Country Vineyards, on the western side of Keuka Lake, won the Sustainability Award.
  • Karen Aumick, of Empire Merchants North, which has facilities in Gates and the Long Island-New York City area, won the Ron Reals Distributor Award.
  • Brown Hound Downtown, a restaurant inside the Memorial Art Galley that features an all-New York wine list, won the Restaurant Award.

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Schumer beats the drum for lifting restrictions on canned wine

Sen. Charles Schumer, who has taken on limitations hindering canned cider in the past, is now trying to remove barriers affecting wine in cans.

While visiting Fox Run Vineyards in Benton, Yates County, Wednesday morning, Schumer said federal regulations are “leaving New York’s wine industry hanging on the vine, with outdated rules and restrictions stopping it from reaching its potential. As canned wine continues to become more and more popular, there’s just no good reason why wine producers, like Fox Run Vineyards, shouldn’t be able to capitalize and sell their products in the most popular-sized cans, especially when studies have shown that lifting these unnecessary restrictions would lead to even further economic growth.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, right, talks about canning restrictions with Fox Run Vineyards owner Scott Osborn. Photo supplied.
Sen. Charles Schumer, right, talks about canning restrictions with Fox Run Vineyards owner Scott Osborn. (Provided photo)

Schumer was citing research conducted by

The senator shared a letter he is sending to the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is considering easing some of its packaging and labeling regulations on canned alcoholic beverages.

“Can size restrictions are limiting producers’ ability to sell their product, and in turn to hire additional employees, and grow their businesses,” Schumer wrote in his letter.

Jim Trezise, president of WineAmerica and of the National Association of American Wineries, said, “wine offered in cans is one of the hottest trends in our industry, and the flexibility of packaging will help our producers sell more wine and employ more people.”

Besides Trezise, Schumer was joined by Scott Osborn, owner of Fox Run, and Erica Paolicelli, co-owner of Three Brother Winery & Estates and War Horse Brewing Co. in Geneva.

Schumer is advocating for wineries to be able to package and sell 250ml cans individually and is urging that the standard 12-ounce can available to the beer and pop industries be allowed for wine sales, too, because it’s easier and cheaper to obtain.

The 375ml or 12.7 ounce can holds half a bottle of wine and, according to WICResearch’s survey, is the most frequently used can size in the wine industry.  However, the firm’s recent marketing research has shown wine consumers’ favorite can size for wine is 250ml, which contains 8.4 ounces.

While federal rules on packaging and labeling wine do allow wineries to use that size can, they currently must be sold in packages of three or four cans and are prohibited from being sold individually.

Other standard cans sizes – 187ml (about 6 ounces) and 375ml — can be sold individually under TTB regulations.

The senator also urged the agency to streamline its labeling requirements, as they can hold up products from reaching the market in a timely fashion.

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