The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, a marketing association for regional wines, announced the appointment of Kyle Anne Pallischeck as the new Executive Director. Pallischeck, who has spent over ten years working in the Finger Lakes wine industry, will lead the organization’s efforts in raising the visibility and reputation of the Finger Lakes AVA, its wines and wineries. We spent time talking with her about the organization, what the future holds and what she’s drinking these days.
EFL: What do you see as the overall purpose of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance?
The mission is to increase the exposure of the region and the wines. Not just to the traditional media and trade but to influencers and social media.
EFL:How does it differ from the NY Wine and Grape Foundation and the other wine related organizations?
There are so many organizations that wineries can partner with in the Finger Lakes. The NYWGF is statewide and includes grape growers and is more politically involved. FLX Wine Country is more of a regional organization within the Finger Lakes while the wine trails are tourism related and are set to bring the general public into the region and connect them to wineries.
The Wine Alliance is about promoting the region as a brand. We work with major wine publications like Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Wine Enthusiast and their wine submissions programs to get our wines reviewed by the experts. This has resulted in region specific sections and coverage about Finger Lakes wine has increased significantly.
The Alliance also connects more closely with people in the industry, retailers and sommeliers. If we can get them excited about the region, the more people feel connected with a particular brand it helps us get more placements.
EFL: What do you hope to accomplish your first year of leading the organization?
I’m really looking forward to seeing the operational side of the programs that I’ve participated in the past as a member. I’ve never been one to come in and make big sweeping changes. My approach is to get familiar with an organization in the first year, 2nd year maybe make some tweaks and then the 3rd year I can really take on changes.
For the coming year, the programming is planned to stay virtual. With the pivot to virtual, that gave a lot of people the chance to interact with winemakers directly through Riesling Camp and Riesling Roadshow which they wouldn’t always get in the tasting room. I’d like to think that in the future we will still utilize the virtual programs, as it’s proven to be an effective way to connect wine professionals to winemakers and winery owners. For 2021, everyone is excited about in-person events again and if we get the chance to do something in person we would love to see that happen.
EFL: What other jobs in the FLX wine industry have you held?
Oh gosh, in 1999 I worked at Prejean Winery, it started there. Libby Prejean is the reason I found wine to be interesting. She wanted to take staff places and help them learn about wine. When I returned to school I was an unofficial ambassador for the region and when I would do public speaking classes I would always talk about Finger Lakes wine.
Then in 2011 Fox Run Vineyards needed someone in the tasting room. While I was there I took the Sommelier certification and got deeper into the industry. I joined the Seneca Lake Wine Trail for marketing and communications for about a year but I missed being in a winery.
From 2016-2019 I was a beverage educator part time at New York Wine and Culinary Center (now New York Kitchen). I taught public classes, the NY Wine Industry courses, and the Sommelier Certification Prep Course. And I was with Sheldrake Point Winery working as a Brand Manager, doing marketing and sales work during that same time.
EFL: What do you think are some of the challenges of leading the FLX wine industry through the Alliance?
The transition to a new tasting model. A lot of wineries are looking for a way to change up their tasting style. The pandemic forced us to make the shift to upscale, more cultured experiences in the tasting room, a more educational format.
Hiring in this region is still a challenge. There is more of an interest and focus in educating staff. The focus on quality is connected to better tasting room staff who can provide that experience.
EFL: What wine specific trends are you seeing in the industry that excite you?
Rosé. I love pink wine, having worked for the top producer of Rosé in the region. I drink it all year. Rosé was considered a fad by many but we are seeing real quality Rosé across our wineries. The variety is endless. You could drink local rosé every day of the week and have a different tasting experience every time.
Bubbles too. I will never stop drinking sparkling wines, any method from traditional grapes to hybrids. Blanc de Noir from Dr. Frank is a current favorite. There’s a huge rise in sparkling wine here with traditional methods and carbonation. It’s food friendly with being higher in acidity and perfect for so many different occasions.
For me, wine is all about who am I with, what are we eating, and what we are doing. I tailor my wine choice to that. I really just love talking to people about wine and sharing food and wine experiences.
To learn more about the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance visit their website at www.fingerlakeswinealliance.com/.