Following in the passion of Thomas Jefferson (”Wine is a necessary of life for me”), the University of Virginia Alumni Association has launched a wine program for its members. Unlike other such programs with private labels on California wine, this program will exclusively offer Virginia wines. Here are details from the Virginia Wine Marketing Office:
The Wine Program got its start at a wine festival held during the University of Virginia’s Reunions Weekend in June 2009. There, more than 300 alumni sampled wines from 12 Monticello Wine Trail wineries and voted for their favorites. These wines became the first offerings of the Alumni Association’s Wine Program. The winners include the Jefferson Vineyards 2008 Viognier, Sweeley Estate Winery’s 2006 Meritage, Sugarleaf Vineyards’ 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Kluge Estate Winery’s Cru and sparkling Blanc de Blanc.
These wines are available for sale at a special discounted rate to the more than 50,000 alumni who live in Virginia. The wine will be distributed through a partnership with Willis Logan of The Virginia Wine of the Month Club. Virginia ABC laws currently prohibit shipping wine outside of the state.
After researching the Stanford University Wine Program and others like it, Alumni Association President Tom Faulders saw potential for a similar program that would highlight Virginia wineries and provide an opportunity for alumni to discover more local wines. “We had been approached by vendors for private label wines, but they were sourcing the wines from California,” Faulders says. “We felt strongly that the wines should come from our local wineries.”
Faulders joined forces with U.Va. alumnus Chad Zakaib, General Manager at Jefferson Vineyards, to work through the details of the program and bring it to fruition. “I think this new program is valuable because it allows U.Va. alumni to enjoy a variety of wines that have already been vetted by their fellow alumni,” says Zakaib. “It also helps raise awareness of some of the great wines that are being produced in Virginia, which now has the fifth most wineries of any state in the country.”
Because wines selected for the U.Va. Alumni Association Wine Program were selling out at the wineries, a limited quantity has been reserved for distribution through the program. “We had to jump on an allocation of the wines for the program, otherwise they’d have been long gone by the time we were ready to go to market,” says Faulders.
The wines are limited in production, with some wineries only having 50 cases available for the program. “These wines sell out rather quickly, so an allocation of wine to the program is a real opportunity for alumni,” says Annette Ringwood Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Marketing office.
Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia, adds, “Supporting Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry is one of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s economic development priorities. This program is a great development for Virginia agriculture and our farm wineries, and the Alumni Association is to be commended for their commitment to their local wine industry.”
After this year’s selection of wine has sold out, another group of Virginia wines will be featured—this summer’s Reunions Weekend wine festival and selection process are already being planned. “It’s exciting to see it take shape and the response from alumni thus far has been terrific,” says Faulders.
Additional information, including ordering instructions, can be found at: www.uvawine.com
Further inquiries may be addressed to:
Director of Membership, Marketing and Affinity Programs
University of Virginia Alumni Association
434-243-9020 | firstname.lastname@example.org