Long-time East Ender Ali Tuthill, is set to become the new executive director of the Long Island Wine Council (LIWC) on September 1. She takes over from Steve Bate, who is stepping down after 12 years in the position.
For Tuthill it is a return to the region of her childhood. Her maternal family, the Scudders, are longtime residents of Shelter Island, and growing up she summered there every year. As it happens, her husband’s family, the Tuthills, are descended from the original Tuthills who settled in the East End in the 17th century.
“It’s a great last name to have,” says Tuthill, who has been with the LIWC since April 2015 as marketing director and is responsible for the “Created with Character” campaign and new website (if you haven’t checked it out recently, you should). “It’s great to have a connection. People will literally pull me into a barn to see engravings with the family name.”
But Tuthill brings a lot more than family history to the position. Prior to joining LIWC, Tuthill worked at PUMA for seven years in Westford, MA, where she developed and executed the company’s North American brand and product marketing campaigns for the U.S., managed a multi-million dollar cooperative marketing budget spanning custom marketing programs and oversaw the North American media planning and buying agency’s seasonal campaigns.
Tuthill’s marketing career began with stints at New York-based marketing and media companies that included Anomaly, ESPN and Wieden + Kennedy. She is a graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. with a B.A. in Psychology and English. While at Lafayette, she was an NCAA Division 1 athlete in swimming and lacrosse and a three-time Academic All-American.
“I’m a jock at heart,” she says.
Her connection to wine is also lifelong and passionate.
“My grandfather was British and his brother was a wine merchant,” she recalls. “So wine was very prominent at meals. I always found it fascinating, especially the historical aspect, and understanding regions and vintages.”
International travel and classes helped her grow her knowledge of food and wine pairing. Starting out as a young professional, she says, “I may have been the only 23-year-old to have a wine fridge in my 380 sq. ft. apartment. I didn’t want the wine to get damaged in my tiny hot apartment!”
Her marketing career was flourishing, but she wanted something more.
“I wanted to be able to combine my professional life with my passion,” Tuthill says. “I had been trying to find a way to work with the Long Island wine region for a long time; I want to be a part of the growth. So it is a match made in heaven.”
The Long Island Wine Council was founded in 1989. It is an industry association dedicated to achieving recognition for Long Island as a premium wine producing region. Its role is to provide a coordinated effort for the promotion and development of the region’s wine industry.
Tuthill says that she will be doing a lot of listening in her new position. “We have 48 wineries represented,” she says. “We have to make sure we are reflecting the voice of our membership. My goal is to stay the course and build upon what we set out to do.”
And she will be building toward a more complete experience for the visitor, helping develop the East End as a complete food and wine region for tourism. The “Created with Character” initiative is part of a mission of establishing the region as a world-class destination for wine and food. It spotlights the region’s wines that are distinct due to their character, which derives from the region’s terroir and maritime climate, and to the winemakers who capture nature in their bottlings.
“This is a hugely agricultural region, not just for wine, but for other foods, and also aquaculture,” Tuthill says. “The wines are naturally meant to be paired with our agricultural produce.
“We also need to identify and promote what we stand for as a region,” she adds. “It’s about the style of wine and the character of the place. Pride in place, pride in product and pride in people. I think what we really want to articulate is that we have a balanced, food-friendly product, that is not too heavy on the alcohol and have a lot of balance. They are perfect pairing wines.”
Her accomplishments at LIWC up until now include a redesign of LIWC’s logo, the new website to and hosting experiential events for media and industry members that also embrace the region’s food artisans.
She also engaged Hospitality Quotient, the organizational consulting business from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), to provide LIWC’s member wineries with the tools to create a best-of-class customer experience to benefit visitors to the wineries, neighbors and the East End as a whole.
“We thank our ongoing Executive Director Steve Bate for his many years of distinguished service that brought LIWC to the prominence it enjoys today,” says Roman Roth, President, LIWC. “With Ali Tutill’s consumer insights and deep passion for our wines and our region, she is blazing a new trail to place us front and center of the global wine world. As Executive Director, her natural strengths as a leader, motivator and mentor will further energize our member wineries and build upon Steve’s legacy.”
The Scudder-Tuthills are also making a move of another kind. She currently resides in Sea Cliff, Long Island with her husband and three children but now the whole family will be moving to Greenport in September. So it’s not just a new position, but a homecoming.