BOISE — An $88,000 grant obtained by the Idaho Wine Commission will allow the group to greatly expand its marketing and outreach efforts in fiscal year 2015.
The specialty crop grant, which was awarded by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, is equal to 27 percent of the commission’s total $330,000 budget for the next year.
“It is quite big as a proportion of our annual budget (and) it’s really fabulous we got it,” said IWC member Melanie Krause, co-owner of Cinder Wines. “Idaho’s wine industry has gained a lot of momentum in recent years and this grant is going to help accelerate that momentum.”
The commission will provide $40,000 in matching funds.
According to the grant proposal, “The ultimate goal is to increase demand of Idaho wine and improve in-state market share while exposing consumers in other states to Idaho wine.”
Idaho Tax Commission data showed that Idaho’s in-state wine market share was 5.18 percent at the end of 2013. Shatz-Dolsby said industry leaders believe that number can be much higher.
There were 178,730 gallons of Idaho wine sold in the state in 2013 and the IWC would like to see that number increase to 200,000 in 2015, according to the grant proposal.
Just getting the word out to Idahoans and others that dozens of wineries are located within a short drive of them is critical for many of the state’s smaller wineries, said Bitner Vineyards owner Ron Bitner.
“That’s important, especially for the little wineries that depend upon foot traffic in our tasting rooms,” he said. “We depend on attracting people from the Boise area, as well as people in the Salt Lake area.”
Funds from the grant will be used to increase the quality, awareness and sales of Idaho wine, said IWC Executive Director Moya Shatz-Dolsby.
“This grant really allows us to do a lot more,” she said. “It will allow our industry to continue to grow in Idaho.”
Some of the grant money will be used to help increase the quality of Idaho wines by conducting education and training seminars for grape growers and wineries, as well as an assessment of Idaho vineyards and wine quality.
According to the grant proposal, overcoming a perception that Idaho makes sub-par wine is one of the difficulties the IWC has had in its marketing campaigns.
While the quality of Idaho wine has improved immensely since the late 1990s, “there is always room for quality improvement to bring the entire industry up to the same level,” the proposal states.
Grant funds will also be used to target specific journalists, develop creative advertising to target specific outlets, and prepare a public relations campaign for the state’s two pending new American Viticultural Areas.