Channing Daughters Lands Denmark Deal

The South Fork winery, known for using rarer European grapes, is now shipping wines to a Copenhagen retailer.

Danish wine imbibers undoubtedly will be saying Skål – "cheers" – as they sip wines from Bridgehampton's , which recently shipped 30 cases of its wines to a Copenhagen-based online wine retailer, Wine-eshop.dk.

The marketer sells only small-production, high-quality American wines, owner Flemming Voss, said in an email.

Voss, who began his business in June with wines from four California wineries, said he added the Long Island wines because he wanted to expand his offerings to include wines from the East Coast.

"Since I've been many times in New York and also a few times to Long Island it was very easy for me to choose that next import," he said, adding that Channing winemaker Christopher Tracy quickly replied to the inquiries he directed to wineries in the region.

Voss, whose full-time job is an information technology manager for a global Danish company, said that while visiting his company's U.S. head office in New Jersey, he decided to use some vacation days for an excursion to the Bridgehampton winery to taste the wines.

"I was attracted to the landscape at Channing Daughters Winery and after tasting the most of their wines -- primary white wines -- I picked the best three wines," Voss said, noting that he anticipated adding other Channing wines in the future. He brought back samples to Denmark, where he tasted them with a small tasting panel and placed an order in November.

His first shipment included 10 cases each of Sylvanus, a white field blend; pinot grigio and Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

The winery produced about 598 cases of the Sylvanus, which retails at the winery for $24 a bottle. It produced 538 cases plus 40 kegs of the pinot grigio, which retails for $20 a bottle, and 1,200 cases of the Scuttlehole, which sells for $17 a bottle.

Voss said he expects the Long Island wines should be well received, because of the quality and fair prices. Voss sells his California wines at prices ranging from 125 Danish Kroner ($22) to 195 Danish Kroner ($35), slightly more than the prices asked by the wineries.

Voss' California wines include Sonoma's Wilson Wines, Mazzocco Wines, also from Sonoma, Jaxon Keys Winery in Mendocino and Judd's Hill Winery in Napa.

Denmark is a highly competitive market, where wines are sold at low prices by three big chains plus hundreds of boutique importers, according to Meininger's Wine Business International. The publication said wine could be found in most Danish households.

Denmark, according to Wine Business International, also holds the record for the highest number of wine importers per head, due to a whole army of small, part-time importers, such as Voss, who bring in wines from small producers. Red wine is preferred and accounts for 75 percent of all wine sales. Most wines imported to Denmark are from France and Chile, according to the publication.

While the small Long Island winery doesn't market internationally, Allison Dubin, Channing's general manager, said, "We've seen substantial interest from other counties."

Recently, the winery recently shipped 60 cases of various red wines to China. It also sells its wines in Quebec.

"We know there's real interest. We're excited," she said, adding, "People have said Long Island wines are first class. These sales demonstrate that the wines are indeed available around the world."

And, while export sales are good for Channing, Dubin said they also "bring good recognition to the whole region."

Long Island wineries have exported wine for more than a decade with sales to Asia and Europe.

Nevertheless, 90 percent of all U.S. wine exports are from California. In 2009, the U.S. sold an estimated $912 million or 46.4 million cases of wines abroad, according to the Wine Institute, a San Francisco-based trade group for California producers. Nearly 42 percent of U.S. wine exports are shipped to the European Union. The next top markets were: Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and China. The Wine Institute serves as the administrator of the Market Access Program, an export promotion program managed by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service.

There are no specific figures on Long Island wine exports, according to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the Canandaigua-based statewide trade group, which estimates that less than 15 percent of New York's wine production is exported.


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