Purdue University Wine Grape Marketing Extension Specialist Katie Barnett says her job is about two things: connections and possibilities.
"When you're buying a wine, you could buy a bottle that's on sale," Barnett said, "but what if instead, you bought a sweet wine that was Indiana grown? What if you read the label and saw that they have a small restaurant at their winery, or that they sell their wine at a wine bar five minutes from your house? You could spend your next Friday night at a winery or wine bar with friends instead of buying a bottle off the shelf."
Highlighting the benefits of buying and drinking Indiana wines is one of Barnett's goals for her new position, as is supporting Hoosier grape growers, winemakers and winery owners in developing their businesses. Barnett's duties will include managing the Wine Grape Team's social media presence, coordinating events like the Indy International Wine Competition and Vintage Indiana Wine and Food Festival, creating new publications, educational outreach materials and informative media. She also plans to visit wineries, meet winemakers and learn about the unique needs of each region of the state.
While she may be new to the team, Barnett is no stranger to Purdue Agriculture, holding bachelor's degrees in agricultural communication and agribusiness marketing. Working as an Extension and marketing intern during college allowed her to try working both out in the field and in an office, and when she heard about the Extension marketing specialist position that would allow her to do both, she jumped at the chance.
"Combining marketing and Extension into one position is the best of both worlds," Barnett said. "I love the mission of Extension and I love the creativity of marketing. I spent a semester in Italy, so I know about wine and wine terminology, but I'm not an expert by any means. All of us on the team want to learn from the winemakers as much as they want to learn from us. So this position is a great chance for me to bring a fresh, millennial perspective to things and keep pushing innovation forward."
"We are delighted to have Katie Barnett join the Purdue Wine Grape Team as the Wine Grape Marketing Extension Specialist," said Marshall Martin, senior associate director of agricultural research at Purdue and director of the Indiana Wine Grape Council. "Her expertise in social media, agricultural communication and agricultural business and marketing will not only help her promote the Indiana wine industry, but also position her well to prepare and deliver Extension education materials and programs to help Indiana wineries develop the marketing and financial plans they need to successfully expand their individual wine sales and grape production businesses. This is important as together we strive to enhance the quality of Indiana wines and grow the industry."
The Purdue Wine Grape Team was established in 1989 as a partnership between the state of Indiana and the university. The team is made up of four Extension specialists who support Indiana and Midwest winemakers in grape growing, winemaking and wine marketing. In addition to providing expert consultations and writing Extension publications, team members teach classes for students and professionals, investigate research problems in grape and wine production and coordinate conferences and events throughout the year.
For more information about the Wine Grape Team, contact Barnett at 765-496-3842, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://ag.purdue.edu/foodsci/extension/winegrapeteam/Pages/default.aspx.