Enjoy Some Wine with Your Travel Marketing, with Sam Filler

Episode 109:

Sam Filler serves as the executive director of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the main trade association responsible for statewide investments in research and promotion on behalf of the New York wine and grape industry. He previously served as director of industry development at Empire State Development. In that role, Sam worked closely with the alcoholic beverage industry and policymakers to implement governor Andrew Cuomo’s Craft Beverage Initiative. Sam is a graduate of Vassar and New York University. He serves on the boards of Cornell Agritech Advisory Council, National Grape Research Alliance, Wine Market Council, and New York Kitchen.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Sam about the intersection of the craft beverage industry and travel and tourism. The regional nuances, especially of wines and other craft beverages, create a tremendous opportunity for destinations and the beverage makers who call that region home.


Credit: Wine and Grape Foundation


  • How to work together across a region to promote niche markets like craft beverages as part of the tourism fabric of the region
  • Where to look for marketing dollars and join in creating a bigger impact through regional partnerships
  • How you can lose economic development marketing dollars if you have no one in charge of deciding when and where to spend those dollars
  • Ways to better know your target market, and target the right messages to that market
  • How to bring the right tactics and strategies to your marketing plans, even on a limited budget


Craft beverages are becoming a huge industry. Every town and hamlet, it seems, has at least one winery, brewery, and distillery, dispensing locally hand-crafted wine, beer, and spirits.

And of course, all of those adult beverages are a big part of the travel and tourism industry. Wine and beer trails are becoming more popular and drawing in a larger audience. These trails and other craft beverage related events present a great opportunity for beverage makers, regional hotels, restaurants and other destinations to work together to create a unique and memorable visitor experience.


One of the challenges of collaborating with multiple players in a given region is figuring out who is in charge of what.

With a project like a wine trail, the point person is likely running a business full-time alongside this volunteer commitment. Sam saw the need to develop a “set of tactics and strategies that we can offer to these wine trails that they can kind of pull from and know that there are tried and true techniques to attract the right people.”

So through the Wine and Grape Foundation set about to provide exactly this kind of strategic direction and some real tools that can filter down to the smallest, smallest winery.


Episode Transcript

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