Survey of Wisconsin winemakers reveals local taste

A survey completed by assistant professor and UW-Extension communications specialist Bret Shaw and LSC graduate student Camille Rogers revealed good news for Wisconsin wine lovers and devotees of local foods.

In their study, Shaw and Rogers interviewed a sample of 25 winemakers in Wisconsin and found that 96 percent of them are using grapes and other fruits grown in Wisconsin in at least one of their wines.

The reasons for this local preference usually centered on economics.  Using local fruits provide a wide variety of advantages, including shipping costs and marketing benefits.  Many of the wine producers indicated that large amounts of their customer base are “foodies,” and they are seeking a “Wisconsin experience.”  By branding their wine as local, they can more easily appeal to this market.

However, the survey revealed that economics was not the only driving factor in buying local.  Many winemakers also indicated that there were “intangible” advantages for using locally grown fruits, including giving them a lighter environmental footprint and partnering with local growers to strengthen ties to the community.

Rogers was given the opportunity to work with Shaw on this study because she is the 2012 recipient of the Lenore Landry Life Sciences Communication Internship.  She said that this was an ideal project to fulfill under the scholarship, given Lenore’s strong legacy of stewardship.

“I really enjoyed learning about this aspect of Wisconsin’s food culture,” said Rogers.  “The wineries I contacted seemed to care about buying locally and protecting the state, both economically and environmentally.”

UW Extension Professor Lenore Landry established this fund to support students who research, write and share information on natural resources with the public, especially through Wisconsin Public Radio.  Recipients complete communication assignments in order to benefit from the award.

The survey was conducted in partnership with UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Travel Green Wisconsin initiative.

Article written by Tim Schley, Undergraduate Digital Marketing Strategist