Official Nebraska Government Website

Board Strategic Plan

INTRODUCTION

This Strategic Plan represents the vision and direction of the Nebraska Grape and Winery Board (NGWB).  This is an adaptive, non-static document subject to change with new and/or additional input.  It is not a standalone document.  It is designed to work in conjunction with each year’s operational budget and funded projects.  The Board believes that strategic planning is not a one-time effort.  Once goals are set, commitment will be maintained, progress monitored, and adjustments made until the objectives are reached.  This plan demonstrates the commitment which is needed to provide an excellent standard of programs and budget allocations designed to continuously meet the needs of the industry. 

MISSION STATEMENT

The NGWB’s mission statement is to work collaboratively towards a profitable, sustainable future that advances the interests of Nebraska’s grape and wine industry through advocacy and education.

The purpose of the NGWB is to further the growth and economic development of the grape-growing and wine-making industry in the state of Nebraska to a maximum level as supported by the favorable soil and climatic conditions existing in Nebraska, and to satisfy the market demand for grapes and wine inside and outside of Nebraska.  The end objective is to create an economically viable alternative farm crop and wine industry in Nebraska that will enhance the economic condition of the farm industry and the state of Nebraska. 

The duties and responsibilities of the NGWB include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Establish a public forum whereby any producer of wine, grapes, or other wine-producing agricultural products has the opportunity, at least once annually, to discuss with the Board its policy and procedures;
  2. Keep minutes of its meetings and other books and records which will clearly reflect all of the acts and transactions of the Board and to make these records available for examination upon request by members of the public;
  3. Authorize and approve the Department of Agriculture's expenditure of funds collected pursuant to section
    53-304;
  4. Serve as an advisory panel to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission in all matters pertaining to the wine industry; and
  5. Adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out sections 53-301 to 53-305.

BOARD GOALS

Premium Quality Grapes and Wines.  Nebraska’s growing conditions vary greatly from the eastern to the western part of the state, and, to a lesser extent, from north to south.  In the east, the elevation is less than 1,000 feet above sea level, annual precipitation may exceed 35 inches and winter lows normally do not exceed -15°F.  In the western part of Nebraska, elevations exceed 5,200 feet, annual precipitation can be as low as 12 inches, and winter lows may reach -30°F.  Soil characteristics vary widely across Nebraska’s topography from sandy soils in the west to loess soils in the east. 

Despite these climatic and soil extremes, vineyards across the state are producing premium quality grapes.  The hardy grape varietals adaptive to Nebraska’s soils produce grapes that make great wines.  This enables Nebraska the advantage to produce unique, handcrafted wines that are site-specific and will help capture compelling market attraction. 

Targeting Varietals in Which Nebraska Excels.  In business, success comes to those who build their reputations on unique products of consistent quality.  In the same way, the great wine regions of the world are all associated with particular varieties of wine.  Nebraska is no exception and is producing wines that are unlike many others in the world. 

Carefully tending to its vineyards and refining its winemaking, the Nebraska wine industry is accomplishing this goal by identifying its strengths and placing its bets on the most popular and successful varieties.  These include varieties such as, among the reds, Frontenac, Marechal Foch, and DeChaunac; and, among the whites, Brianna, Edelweiss, Lacrosse, and Traminett.  The sharing of results and experiences stemming from academic research studies, grape growers, winemakers, and the industry, as a whole, is developing a deeper understanding of the best grown practices and winemaking techniques.  This will, in turn, continue the acceleration and demand of Nebraska high-quality wines.  By trying new methods, tasting comparable products, and making adjustments, winemakers learn much faster and are able to create a better product than any single winery could do alone. 

Enhancing the Quality of Nebraska Wines.  A concerted, focused effort on creating a sustainable grape and wine growing industry in Nebraska is of paramount importance.  Quality research and enhancement is one avenue worth pursuing that will help achieve this goal.  Measures implemented will be aimed at building a strong, vibrant industry that includes the production of world class wines made from world class grapes.  Brand recognition is essential in any consumer business and is a key component within this Strategic Plan.  Nebraska wines would be graded against a rating system that is based on industry standards to identify the best wines in Nebraska.  Exceptional wines would create awareness of the quality of Nebraska wines with consumers while promoting the best of the Nebraska wine industry.  Enhancing the quality of Nebraska wines would spur investment in new vineyards with high quality wine grapes, encourage consumers to try Nebraska wines, and help consumers develop an appreciation for quality wines that are produced on Nebraska soil. 

Plant Research.  The University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s (UNL) Viticulture Program is an integral part of this industry’s success.  They provide science-based research information that assists in the development of the Nebraska grape and wine industry in a sustainable and profitable manner, thus enhancing the economic viability of Nebraska communities and the state’s vibrant and burgeoning agricultural industry.  Research studies address several topics pertaining to grape and wine production in Nebraska. 

Education.  Promoting the creation and discovery of new production practices will aid in this industry’s success.  This goal can be achieved by funding various projects and activities through partnership with UNL’s Viticulture Program and the NWGGA.  They include, but are not limited to, attendance at educational conferences, funding research projects, disseminating research findings to the public, supporting and partially funding grower field days and conferences, soliciting and funding proposals to enable industry partners to enhance programs and the industry, and serving as an active partner in the Grape and Wine Consortium, which works to develop and organize the annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Tradeshow. 

Encouraging Wine Tourism.  Wine is identified with its origins and region.  Wine tourism creates lasting memories, customer loyalty, and lifetime fans.  These benefits aid in the rapid growth of this industry, making it easy for consumers to access and explore this industry from any of Nebraska’s major state highways. 

Increasing the Marketability, Awareness and Accessibility of Nebraska Grapes and Wines.  Nebraska wineries can encounter major challenges in terms of distribution and sales.  A substantial amount of wine sales are made at the wineries, but there are a growing number of grocery stores and specialty shops that carry Nebraska wines.  These stores serve as alternate sales outlets for many wineries, promoting the quality and value of the state’s wine. 

The main strategic focus of grape and wine activities will be on enhancing the image of Nebraska wines through praise and acceptance.  Developing brand recognition is essential in any consumer business and is also a key component within this Strategic Plan.  The wine industry will continue its aggressive participation in key marketing and advertising campaigns.  A strong presence domestically is key to becoming a larger global competitor. 

Promotion of Nebraska’s grape and wine industry is a primary goal of the Board.  The Board helps the grape and wine industry become a strong and important part of Nebraska’s thriving economy.  They stay abreast of recent legislation affecting Nebraska’s grape and wine industry, supports Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers’ Association (NWGGA) activities, and works closely with UNL to receive guidance and education based upon industry research. 

Increasing the awareness and functionality of the Board is also a goal the Board hopes to achieve.  Development of a NGWB web site would help accomplish this goal.  This enables the Board to establish an Internet presence, increase public awareness of Nebraska’s burgeoning grape and wine industry, describe the composition of the Board and its responsibilities, and strengthen Nebraska’s grape and wine industry by providing information relevant to the industry.  It enables the Board to further the growth and economic development of the grape-growing and wine-making industry, in the state of Nebraska, to a maximum level as supported by the favorable soil and climatic conditions existing in Nebraska, and to satisfy the market demand for grapes and wine inside and outside of Nebraska. 

Creating Partnerships Within the Industry.  Today, global success is won, not by firms acting alone, but by partnerships that promote joint planning, information sharing, open communication, and cooperation.  A central challenge for the Nebraska wine industry is to continue cooperation and financial support to the NWGGA and UNL’s Viticulture Program, which have both been strong pillars of strength for Nebraska’s grape and wine industry.  These partnerships entail balancing individual mandates with the opportunities for promotion and research. 

Wineries and growers work together to ensure there are reliable supplies of premium grapes of the right varieties.  The involves joint decision-making regarding planting and vineyard management as well as multi-year contracts, the sharing of risks, rewards, and access to capital.  Distribution of quality wines is an important challenge, and one that needs to be embraced, collectively, by all wineries and growers.  This includes finding greater opportunities in marketing and research that will benefit both wineries and growers, big and small. 

Maintaining Financial Viability and Revenue of the Grape and Winery Board.  Crushed juice fees, grape excise taxes, and shipper license fees are the three primary sources from which the Board obtains its revenue. 

Each Nebraska winery pays the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission $20 for every 160 gallons of juice produced or received by its facility. Gifts, grants, or bequests may be received for the support of the Nebraska Grape and Winery Board. Funds paid pursuant to the charge imposed by section 53-304 and funds received pursuant to subsection (4) of section 53-123.15, and from gifts, grants, or bequests, is remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Winery and Grape Producers’ Promotional Fund.   For administrative purposes, the fund is located in NDA.  All revenue credited to the fund pursuant to the charge imposed by this section, and excise taxes collected pursuant to section 2-5603, and any funds received as gifts, grants, or bequests and credited to the fund is used by NDA, at the direction of and in cooperation with the Board, to develop and maintain programs for the research and advancement of the growing, selling, marketing, and promotion of grapes, fruits, berries, honey, and other agricultural products and their byproducts grown and produced in Nebraska for use in the wine industry.  Such expenditures may include, but are not limited to, all necessary funding for the employment of experts in the fields of viticulture and enology, as deemed necessary by the Board, and programs aimed at improving the promotion of all varieties of wines, grapes, fruits, berries, honey, and other agricultural products and their byproducts grown and produced in Nebraska for use in the wine industry.

Funds credited to the fund shall be used for no other purposes than those stated in this section and any transfers authorized pursuant to section 2-5604.  Any funds not expended during a fiscal year may be maintained in the fund for distribution or expenditure during subsequent fiscal years. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.

Legislation approved on May 30, 2007, amended sections 53-123.15 and 53-304 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes and repealed the original sections. The Act, relating to alcoholic liquor, changed the provisions relating to shippers’ license fees and provided an excise tax on grapes.  Within the Act, terms were defined, powers and duties were assigned, and a penalty was enacted.  Until April 30, 2012, shipping license fees will be collected by the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission and remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Winery and Grape Producers’ Promotional Fund.   However, legislation approved on May 18, 2011, amended section 53-123.15, which removed the April 30, 2012 sunset date. Additionally, an excise tax of one cent per pound is levied upon all grapes sold through commercial channels in Nebraska, or delivered in Nebraska.  Excise taxes are also remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the Winery and Grape Producers’ Promotional Fund.  The license fees and excise taxes resulted in a substantial increase in Board revenue.    

The Board believes it is imperative to fund any additional projects that would be feasible to help further promote and expand Nebraska’s burgeoning grape and wine industry.  The Board sends out news releases seeking grant proposals from individual growers, farm wineries, organizations, industry groups, and academic institutions that aim to assist in the betterment of Nebraska’s grape and wine industry.  Interested parties wishing to receive funds are required to submit detailed proposals to the Board.  The proposals are to clearly explain how the money is to be used and how it would enhance the competitiveness of the state’s grape and wine industry.  The Board has developed a grant proposal process in order to provide all interested parties with an opportunity to access these funds.  Grant proposal guidelines and application information is made available to the public and is available on UNL’s Viticulture Program web site.  Information can also be obtained by contacting NDA or the Board Chair.  Distribution of the Request for Proposal (RFP) solicits several proposals.   Priority funding is given to marketing and research projects targeted at increasing the sale and production of Nebraska gapes and/or wines.  Collecting and compiling final reports in a timely manner from Board-funded projects, and evaluating the efficacy of the reports as to how they relate to the Strategic Plan, is of paramount importance to the Board.

The responsibilities of the Board have increased largely due in part to the number of projects funded each year.  In an effort to enhance the accountability and reporting requirements of Board-funded projects, the Board allocates money to pay the salary of a part-time clerical assistant to assist with Board duties.  The Board asks NDA to find an individual to fill this position each year.  This individual is under the direction of the NDA. 

Each year, the Board publishes an annual report, which is available to the public, free of charge.  The report primarily includes meeting minutes, news releases, RFP application instructions, annual fiscal report, contracts, bylaws, and statutes.

STRATEGIES TO REACH EACH GOAL AND ACTION PLANS TO IMPLEMENT EACH STRATEGY

Premium Quality Grapes and Wines
Strategy 1.1 Produce unique, handcrafted wines that are site-specific and will capture compelling market attraction. 

  1. Determine hardy grape varietals adaptive to Nebraska’s soils and climate extremes;
  2. Survey growers and winemakers to determine which varieties appear to be most profitable and successful;
  3. Identify cost-effective strategies to improve the value/benefits of Nebraska grapes and wines;
  4. Utilize research from UNL’s Viticulture Program, grape growers, and winemakers, to acquire knowledge of the best grown practices and winemaking techniques; and
  5. Attend seminars and workshops to improve variety selection, growing techniques, and management practices. 

Targeting Varietals in Which Nebraska Excels
Strategy 2.1 Maintain and increase the reputation of Nebraska’s unique, specific wine varieties. 

  1. Identify all of the wine varieties in Nebraska;
  2. Determine the most popular and successful red and white varieties through periodic surveys; and
  3. Share results and experiences stemming from academic research studies, grape growers, and winemakers. 

Strategy 2.2 Continue the acceleration and demand of Nebraska high-quality wines. 

  1. Work in close cooperation with UNL’s Viticulture Program, grape growers, winemakers, and other industry experts to develop a deeper understanding of the best grown practices and winemaking techniques;
  2. Try new methods;
  3. Taste comparable products;
  4. Make adjustments; and
  5. Share experiences. 

Enhancing the Quality of Nebraska Wines
Strategy 3.1 Quality research and enhancement of Nebraska grapes and wines. 

  1. Implement measures aimed at building a strong, vibrant industry that includes the production of world class wines made from world class grapes;
  2. Develop a rating system based on industry standards to identify the best wines in Nebraska; and
  3. Identify exceptional wines to create awareness of the quality of Nebraska wines with consumers while promoting the best of the Nebraska wine industry.

Plant Research
Strategy 4.1 Provide science-based research information that assists in the development of the Nebraska grape and wine industry in a sustainable and profitable manner, thus enhancing the economic viability of Nebraska communities and the state’s vibrant and burgeoning agricultural industry.  Research studies are broad in scope. 

  1. Cultivar and new genotype evaluation;
  2. Multi-state projects evaluating performance of common sets of grape cultivars in multiple locations;
  3. Studies of trellis construction systems and new cultivar performance;
  4. Evaluation of cold-hardiness, spring bud-break, and cold temperature damage prevention and management;
  5. Potential efficacy of chemical and physical treatments on seedless table grape vines to delay spring bud break;
  6. Planting of seedless table grapes to determine the potential efficacy of chemical and physical treatments to delay bud-break;
  7. Investigation of high pH-induced chlorosis problems;
  8. Development of the internet-based pesticide sensitive crop locator web site;
  9. Disease and insect management, trunk studies; and
  10. Sustainable and potentially organic grape production projects. 

Education
Strategy 5.1 Promote the creation and discovery of new production practices by funding various projects and activities through partnership with UNL’s Viticulture Program and the NWGGA. 

  1. Attend educational conferences;
  2. Fund research projects;
  3. Disseminate research findings to the public;
  4. Support and partially fund grower field days and conferences;
  5. Solicit and fund proposals to enable industry partners to enhance programs and the industry; and
  6. Continue as an active partner in the Grape and Wine Consortium, which works to develop and organize the annual Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Forum and Tradeshow. 

Encouraging Wine Tourism
Strategy 6.1 Create lasting memories, customer loyalty, and lifetime fans via wine tourism.

  1. Develop distinct wine and culinary tourism strategies for Nebraska;
  2. Develop a system to ascertain which wine experiences consumers find most positive, and then build on that knowledge to ensure visitors have consistently good experiences;
  3. Base wine tourism on current products and experiences; and
  4. Encourage clustered tourism developments by working with the Nebraska Department of Travel and Tourism and the NWGGA. 

Increasing the Marketability, Awareness and Accessibility of Nebraska Grapes and Wines
Strategy 7.1 Aggressive, coordinated action to improve the distribution of Nebraska wines. 

  1. Cooperation with the NWGGA to conduct intensive marketing strategies to promote the quality and value of Nebraska wines;
  2. Promote quality wines in retail stores and create promotional literature to make Nebraska wineries as a “destination experience” to ensure that these wines are positioned to target key customers;
  3. Make creative uses of stores carrying Nebraska wines with enhanced layouts, promotional materials, wine and food displays, and tastings (where allowed); and
  4. Develop strategies to take advantage of new opportunities via e-commerce, within a framework of social responsibility. 

Strategy 7.2 Enhance the image of Nebraska wines through praise and acceptance and develop a strong presence, domestically, to become a larger global competitor. 

  1. Develop brand recognition for Nebraska wines;
  2. Aggressive participation in key marketing and advertising campaigns; and
  3. Serve as an advocate for the industry.

Strategy 7.3 Stay abreast of recent legislation and recent developments affecting Nebraska’s grape and wine industry. 

  1. Maintain, increase, and improve relationships with local, state, and federal lawmakers; and
  2. Support NWGGA activities, and work closely with UNL’s Viticulture Program to receive guidance and education based upon industry research.

Strategy 7.4 Increase the awareness and function of the NGWB.

  1. Perform routine maintenance;
  2. Monitor and review the number of visits to the website on a monthly basis; and
  3. Provide continual updates, as needed.

Creating Partnerships Within the Industry
Strategy 8.1 Maintain and increase NGWB agricultural partnerships. 

  1. Define industry needs and develop cost-effect strategies to improve value/benefits across all members;
  2. Survey, evaluate, and develop a database of Nebraska grape growers and wineries;
  3. Establish, maintain, and update a list recording the total grape acreage and number of vines (variety specific) planted in Nebraska; and
  4. Engage into close working relationships with UNL, NWGGA, NDA, and other entities or organizations that impact Nebraska’s agricultural industry, (grape and wine industry, in particular). 

Maintaining Financial Viability and Revenue of the Grape and Winery Board
Strategy 9.1 Investigate and implement programs utilizing diversified funding sources that continue to build and grow Nebraska’s grape and wine industry. 

  1. Develop a financial plan;
  2. Formalize, enhance, and evaluate Board-funded projects from one year to the next;
  3. Review income performance on a monthly basis and develop a strategy to enhance financial relationships and secure Board revenue;
  4. Review existing financial processes and identify new and improved approaches to identify and explore cost savings;
  5. Prepare and position NGWB to fund ideas towards new research and different marketing strategies that will benefit the entire grape and wine industry, in general, and not a particular business venture;
  6. Expend at least 75% of NGWB annual revenue on meaningful projects aimed at improving grape and wine research and promoting the entire industry;
  7. Collect and compile final reports in a timely manner from Board-funded projects;
  8. Evaluate the efficacy of final reports as to how they relate to the Strategic Plan; and
  9. Ensure sufficient revenue is available to address future needs.

Strategy 9.2 Make and publish an annual report on or before January 1, of each year, which set forth, in detail, several items. 

  1. The name and address of each Board member, and a copy of all rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the Board;
  2. A detailed explanation of all programs for which the Board approved funding that fiscal year, pursuant to section 53-304, for the research, discovery, promotion, and development of programs for the growing, production and marketing of Nebraska wines, grapes, fruits, berries, honey, and other agricultural products and their byproducts grown and produced in Nebraska for use in the wine industry; and
  3. Present the report to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission within 30 days after its publication and make available to any persons who request a copy. 

Strategy 9.3 Develop a culture of continuous improvement. 

  1. Engage the Board to develop, and annually review, and renew the Strategic Plan every three years;
  2. Gain industry feedback and advice and identify areas for constructive improvement; and
  3. Analyze other state-based farmer organizations and non-profit membership associations. 

MONITOR AND UPDATE THE PLAN

This strategic framework is a plan of optimism and opportunity for all stakeholders in the industry, and is grounded in the realities facing the industry today.  It identifies how the grape and wine industry can maximize long-term profitable growth in the industry, reinvent consumer’s total experience with Nebraska wines, and increase tourism.  The success of this plan hinges on industry partners embracing and sharing this vision and transforming the above strategies into key deliverables.  

Consequently, each participant in the vision must assume responsibility, which includes assigning the resources needed to fulfill the promise that is shared by this Board.  Nebraska wines are a source of passion and pride, and perhaps the most important indicator of success is positive feedback from grape growers, wineries, scientists, and wine enthusiasts.  Positive feedback from consumers and the growing reputation of Nebraska wines is sure to soar the industry to new heights. 

This strategic framework provides the foundation stones for achieving long-term profitable growth.  This document is subject to change with new and/or additional input.  Commitment will be maintained, progress will be monitored, and adjustments will be made until the objectives are reached.

THE BOARD’S COMMITMENT

The appointed leaders of the NGWB agree to the above stated principles and actions to accomplish the objective of keeping the industry strong, vibrant, and productive.  The Board accepts these responsibilities and roles of proactive leaders with a common goal and vision to secure the future of the Board.  All five Board members and the two ex-officio members have a copy of this plan.  Copies are also available to industry stakeholders, upon request. 

CONCLUSION

The grape and wine industry in Nebraska is poised for greatness.  The destination is clear.  People at every level in the industry – growers, winemakers, academia, government, distributors, and marketers have assembled together ready to adapt this focused plan with the concerted, cooperative action needed to win a prosperous future for Nebraska wines.