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A sommelier on the job. <a href="">Video still</a> from Innovation Trail
A sommelier on the job. Video still from Innovation Trail

NY wine industry needs "masters"

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In October Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a summit in Albany to promote New York's wine, beer and spirits industry. In his 2013 state budget proposal, he also made provision for additional support for promoting New York products, including wine and beer, and promoting upstate tourism. But one upstate culinary center says that there's a piece of the puzzle missing from the governor's plans.

The lack of wine experts, known as master sommeliers, could keep the industry from reaching its full potential.

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Reported by

Kate O'Connell
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

Thomas Belelieu, general manager of the New York Wine and Culinary Center,  is supportive of the recent initiatives from Albany, but says that without experts to communicate the true value of upstate wines they’ll remain hard to find on wine lists.  “You need to train the trainers is the idea. You’ve got to train people who will actually train and educate the consumer, the public. And that link is missing in the chain. That’s what we’d like to fulfill here.”

Belelieu says although New York is the third largest wine producing state in the nation, its six master sommeliers all reside in New York city.

He says the Wine and Culinary Center is starting a sommelier course to train its own staff and in turn pass that knowledge onto producers, retailers and consumers.

New York produces internationally renowned wines, and Belelieu says filling in the gap in the industry’s ability to communicate this would overlap with plans to increase upstate tourism.

Reporting by the Innovation Trail is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Visit

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