People stocking up on locally grown products at their weekly farmers’ markets in Massachusetts are finding a new item: wine.
The Farmers’ Market at Forest Park in Springfield, now well into its 17th season, offered a first Tuesday – wine sold by the bottle and given out in small samples.
The new vendor was very well received.
Mount Warner Vineyards of Hadley was given Springfield’s first-ever license to sell wine at a farmers’ market. Bobbie Kamen, the co-proprietor of the farm winery, said they decided to try out the Springfield market after successfully participating in farmers’ markets in Amherst and Greenfield.
"Farmers' markets are tremendous for local wineries."
Kamen said local food advocates who frequent farmers’ markets are good customers for local wineries.
"People really like local. Local and wine is a great combination."
The Massachusetts legislature in 2010 authorized local wineries to sell at farmers’ markets and agricultural fairs. A report on the program in 2012 by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources surveyed 18 wineries that sold at 63 farmers’ markets. A majority reported an increase in visits to their wineries and more brand awareness.
Belle Rita Novak, the long-time manager of the Farmers’ Market at Forest Park said farmers’ markets help the agricultural industry in Massachusetts and wineries are part of that industry.
"Farmers' markets across the country have helped small farms stay in business. So this is part of the same continuoum."
Novak, who lobbied regulatory authorities in Springfield for two years to get a license for a wine vendor, predicted the new vendor will attract more people to the weekly farmers’ market.
" We are a mixed market. There are people who come here and spend $100 a week. There are other people who come here with WIC coupons. The people with the deeper pockets would be more likely to spend money on local wine."
Novak said she has invited a second regional winery to become a vendor at the farmers’ market.