What Happened at This Year's Hudson Valley Beer, Wine, Spirits, & Cider Summit?

Industry leaders and entrepreneurs alike flock to the Hudson Valley to learn about the latest developments in the craft beverage sector.


Last year's 4th annual Hudson Valley Beer, Wine, Spirits & Cider Summit.

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Over 250 people came out to attend the 5th Annual Hudson Valley Beer, Wine, Spirits & Cider Summit at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park on Thursday.

The event, which is the largest of its kind in the state, offers entrepreneurs in the craft beverage industry the opportunity to hear from marketing experts; ask questions of industry regulators, publishers, and legal experts; and network with fellow business owners.

Hosted by the Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Alliance, the event kicked off with a heartening keynote from Tom Potter, Co-Founder and President of New York Distilling Company. Potter spoke about how the industry has evolved since he co-founded The Brooklyn Brewery in 1987, at which point he wondered to himself, “Is there room in New York State for four microbreweries?”

Since then, the number of craft breweries in the United States has grown from 150 to well over 5,000. In the Hudson Valley alone, there are now 139 breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries.

Several celebrities have hopped on the craft beverage craze, including Adam and Lynette Carolla, who spoke about the strategy and success behind Carolla Drinks at the summit.

Yet the industry is also at a crossroads, as growth has slowed from the steady stream of double digits percentages that many breweries have recorded over the last decade. Presenters like Dr. Russell Zwanka, Professor at the SUNY New Paltz School of Business and CEO/Partner at Triple Eight Marketing, assuaged some of those concerns, explaining that businesses can only expand their base so much before they need to start taking customers from competitors.

That doesn’t mean craft brewers will be turning on each other, though. In his speech, Potter pointed out that there is still plenty of room for growth, since craft beverage sales share an inverse relationship with those of Anheuser-Busch.

Zwanka was even more optimistic about the shifting tides of beer consumption: “Coors Light can’t figure out how to get people to like their beer anymore.”

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