Our friend Dr. Seth Porter recently put this policy brief together based on his dissertation work for his Ph.D. in policy administration at West Chester University. Though certainly an academic work aimed primarily at the wine industry, as consumers we found it nonetheless fascinating. What hit particularly for us were the sections on collective reputation — specifically ‘chateau cashflow’ (low quality sweet wines that generate high revenue) and the ‘one bad apple’ problem (consumers making broad judgements of the industry based on one wine or winery) — as well as the conflicts created between marketing the industry as a whole versus focusing on those wineries that stand out as creating high quality products (ahem, the mission for this site). Anyway, give it a read if you have a vested interest in the future of PA wines. ~ MM

Executive Summary

Pennsylvania’s wine industry holds significant potential for boosting agricultural economic growth, fueling rural development, and establishing a sustainable tax base. However, current challenges like a lackluster collective reputation, inconsistent quality, and perceived detrimental regulatory environments hamper this potential. Through a thorough analysis, this policy brief informed by an abridged version of an extensive dissertation with updated information and data, attempts to pinpoint and address the major public policy, regulatory, and non-state private actions that are stifling the industry’s growth (Porter, 2022). This study leverages grounded theory qualitative processes supplemented by text mining and document analysis techniques. It incorporates extensive data gathered from interviews with key industry players, proprietary datasets, a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania-specific industry documents, and a collection of industry best practices, economic reports, grey literature, peer-reviewed publications, and policies from relevant industry regional peers.

Several critical public and private findings emerged, particularly regulatory issues within the Pennsylvania Liquor Code and Limited Winery License that negatively impact local agricultural production and the industry at large. Additionally, the private sector needs to work on improving the industry’s collective reputation through quality assurance mechanisms. Informed by these key findings,empirical literature, and validated industry best practices, the study puts forth over 50 public and private policy recommendations designed to address these issues and foster continual growth in Pennsylvania’s wine industry. As a policy brief informed by years of research and analysis, this study aims to provide actionable strategies for transforming the state’s wine industry. However, this study’s scope extends beyond Pennsylvania through the comprehensive approach, findings, and recommendations offer a useful framework for other emerging and developing wine regions. In leveraging this framework, regions can better understand their own challenges and potential solutions, making this study a strategic guide for improving local wine industries—and in doing so invest in rural economic development. This comprehensive policy brief, informed by meticulous research and analysis and an abridged dissertation provides actionable strategies aimed at transforming not just Pennsylvania’s, but other developing and frontier wine industries as well.

View the full PDF: The Terroir of Growth: A Policy Brief with Recommendations for the Pennsylvania Wine Industry and a Guide for Emerging Wine Regions