By Dawn Dolan
Now in its sixth year of existence, this year’s WIN Expo is rising to meet the demands for increased educational components. Hearing back from decision-makers of wineries and vineyards, Wine Industry Network is rising to meet the challenge. Last year’s attendance exceeded all expectations, with popular sessions exploding out the doors of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds halls.
To meet the expectations of the increasingly involved and engaged crowd, founder George Christie has taken the educational component and fleshed it out. “We started with just a few topics”, Christie says. “Now we have eight sessions, all of the highest quality and relevance to our very savvy crowd here in the North Coast.”
Becoming a regular part of the year’s education piece for many winery principles, winemakers, and marketing directors, the 2017 WIN Expo will focus on three main areas, with production and technical aspects of winemaking being a staple. Topic revolving around sales, marketing and communication denote the second area. The third space for conversation is fluid, with Christie describing it as “where the world is going”. Says Christie, “We want to address imminent and future concerns that are on the cutting edge of concern in our industry. Topic relevancy across all three themes is imperative, especially in our area where we have the most highly engaged wine industry in the nation.”
Staying up on industry trends is clearly the goal in order to attract high-level decision makers to the show. Alexandra O’Gorman of Ramey Wine Cellars says she and her team attend the conference for both components offered. “Our team attends the WIN Expo every year because the event delivers relevant and innovative products and ideas for our winery. The vendors help our team improve our current processes and think about new ways to advance our systems,” says O’Gorman. The educational sessions are a stand-out for her; “The speakers are the highlight for me; each is an expert in their field and helps me think about our brand’s future while giving me an original idea that I can immediately implement back to the winery. It’s a great event and worth attending.”
This year’s sessions will address areas of both interest and concern. New winemaking techniques and production ideas will be presented. With the recent trend for bubbles, a session on the method known as pétillante naturelle will be featured. The recent wave of vineyard acquisitions will fuel a panel discussion about how the future may be impacted by this trend. Next steps for marketing will be the theme of session “Beyond Social Media”. New movement in the canned wine development will be discussed. Now that the recreational cannabis has passed in CA, and as an ongoing theme session to last year’s overflowing talk, the ongoing questions concerning the impact and issues related to the cannabis issue will generate a follow-up panel discussion.
Falling at a time of year when most red wine is bubbling happily in secondary fermentation, the WIN Expo allows the decision-makers for vineyards and winery operation to find relevant educational talks, and work on their next year’s budgets by attending the trade fair. Packaged in a manageable format for a day-long conference, this North Coast exposition has quickly become one of the nation’s largest offerings and a staple for local winemakers.