In addition to being the NYC Brand Ambassador for Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane, I am also the point person for our export markets. For the past few years I have researched potential markets, presented virtually to buyers in London, Scotland and Ireland, and met 1:1 virtually with countless foreign market wine experts throughout Western Europe, Canada and Asia. In person I have hosted wine writers from Germany and Norway and buyers from Ontario and Japan. Lieb Cellars’ Estate wines have been served this year at trade tastings and master classes in Vietnam, the Four Seasons in Seoul, Toronto, Copenhagen, Brussels, US Consulate General in Strasbourg and the US Embassy in Paris.
Since 2020 I have giddily wondered which country would become our first export market (the winner was Canada) while being immersed in the unfamiliar territory of foreign labeling regulations, INCO shipping terms, and currency exchanges. More recently, we have had to make the tough call to pump the brakes on foreign requests on certain items in order to fulfill strong local demand. It can be challenging being popular, but slow and steady growth is the key to building quality brands both domestically and overseas.
During Lieb’s 30th anniversary year, it is astounding to think that the wines were only formally introduced to the NYC wholesale market in 2014 – a full 22 years after having been established. North Fork locals have strongly supported the work of our winemaker, Russell Hearn, for decades. NYC restaurants and fine wine stores have had a chance to purchase and become avid fans in a much shorter time span. Now in 2022, beginning with the LCBO in Canada, the world finally has an opportunity to taste some of the fruits of our labor.
With much success in local sales, why bother with the extra time and effort that it takes to break into foreign markets? Part of it stems from a sense of pride in the quality of wines coming out of this cool maritime climate and a need to share US wines of this quality level. As an international wine judge it horrifies me to realize that some overseas judges are only acquainted with big brand, entry-level supermarket wines from the US as opposed to fine wines from smaller producers. I grew up in a small town and I remember not having many choices or access to higher levels of quality. I strongly believe in spreading out supply in order to be an ambassador for your region. But economically I realize the hardships, and I understand why many small wineries would never consider entering foreign competitions or seeking export markets if there is not enough supply for local consumption. Perhaps it is because I have been lucky enough to reside in NYC for over 12 years, where I have had access to delicious wines from all over the planet, that I feel the urge to reciprocate. Perhaps it is because it pains me that we are a New World producer from a 50 year old wine region and there are still many wine consumers who are unaware of our existence. Perhaps it is because I am a scrappy Cajun/Italian who traded cane fields for vineyards and I see so much beauty in the land there out east…VERY east. Wine has the capacity to transport the imbiber to the place of origin, and now is the time for Lieb Cellars to share.
Thank you for reading!
Aimée Lasseigne New
NYC Brand Ambassador
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