“I’m looking forward to working with the board, and to seeing the organization continue to grow, to seeing the region continue to prosper, and to see more and more businesses come out here and open their doors, so we can welcome them and make them a part of our organization,” he says. Diliberto, who has served on the Long Island Wine Council as a board member for the past four years, was chosen to succeed former President Ron Goerler of Jamesport Vineyards, after his second term was up at the end of last year. “The term of office for the directors, as well as the officers of the organization, is a two-year term,” Diliberto says. “There was an election at the general membership meeting we had a few weeks back, and I was proposed to be president of the organization, and then membership voted me in.”
“We’re having our first board meeting in the middle of February, and I have some ideas to propose to the board at that time, and based upon their reaction and their input, we’ll make some decisions about what projects we might want to add to the ones we currently have,” he says.
As president, Diliberto is tasked with both guiding the council to benefit the region, as well as serving as a diplomat to the government. “Whether it be on a local, state, or even national level, we have to be involved,” he says. “The president can serve as a spokesperson to different levels of government to let them know whether we feel that something being proposed legislatively is something that would either be detrimental to our organization or detrimental to our whole area.”
Government liaison is part of the job, but it’s only a small part. “You hope that you don’t have to do that too often, because it takes you away from the other things that you like to do, and you don’t want to consume your time by trying to hold off what you consider to be potential problems,” he says. “You’d rather be out there proactively looking to do the things that will help the organization and the individual members.”
Among those are events, which help draw attention and money to the East End. “The organization has done a tremendous job, especially the past four years that Ron was president,” Diliberto says. “Things like the Harvest East End, which was very successful last year, will be on the North Fork again this year—they bring great visibility to the industry.”
The Long Island Wine Council was founded in 1989 to unite the East End’s many wineries and to promote and preserve the region. “We have about 48 wineries out here who are members of the organization, plus we have affiliate members,” Diliberto says. “It’s an organization that does a lot for the industry, and for the whole economy of the East End of Long Island—we’re an important part of that.” The affiliate members include local restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfasts. “As the industry grows and strengthens, we continue to get new members, and that adds to our overall strength,” he says. “They all benefit from us having a successful and strong wine industry.”
That strength has been crucial for the region over the past few years. “Times have changed, the economy has changed, and Hurricane Sandy had a great impact on most of us out here,” Diliberto says. “There have been things that have happened over the years that have made very big changes in everybody’s business, and we’re concerned about the future, and we’d like to do whatever we possibly can to continue to grow as an industry.”
While Diliberto is concerned about the future of the industry and the East End, he remains optimistic. “I see, in the future, that we’re at the center of a larger and larger organization that has members from all of the affiliated industries,” he says, “working together with us, and we with them, to develop the future economy of Eastern Long Island.”