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Empowering people, cutting-edge tools, and insightful information

George Christie
George Christie

Challenges are looming for the wine industry on multiple fronts; overall growth is flattening, new generations have a different relationship to alcohol, climate change and wildfires complicate winemaking, while the labor market affected by immigration and cannabis is becoming increasingly competitive. Meanwhile, wineries have to adapt to the continuing evolution of the legal and marketing landscape offering new opportunities to get ahead or fall behind the competition.

Now in its eight year, the North Coast Wine Industry Expo (WIN Expo) produced by Wine Industry Network (WIN) is designed to equip the industry for success in the environment of today and tomorrow with an event that showcases the most cutting-edge services and tools of the trade, provides insightful and pertinent information, and empowers wine industry professionals through community and education.

“Our industry will face a lot of challenges in the upcoming year and every professional I know is predicting tough times ahead. Our mission is to make sure that our attendees leave this event better prepared for what’s to come and we plan on doing just that,” says George Christie, President & CEO of Wine Industry Network.

WIN Expo trade show floor

The WIN Expo will take place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Three hundred of the industry’s top suppliers will fill the two largest buildings on the fairgrounds, showcasing all the products and services vineyards and wineries need including the latest innovations, new products, great end-of-year deals (#ExpoDeals), and on-site experts that can help advise wineries on what will work best for their specific challenges.

A survey of the 2018 WIN Expo attendees showed an overwhelmingly positive response to the quality of exhibiting companies with 88% of attendees rating them as good or very good. And 69% said they were likely or very likely to follow up with exhibitors they met at the WIN Expo.

“Wine industry suppliers are in some ways the unsung heroes of the industry,” says Christie, “they are experts and innovators that bring highly specialized knowledge and capabilities for the industry to learn and take advantage of. Every year they bring something new, and we’re very happy to have the top industry suppliers at the WIN Expo each year.”

Before each WIN Expo, Wine Industry Network recognizes five of the year’s most innovative wine industry suppliers with a WINnovation Award. This year’s award recipients will be announced in November, and the five new 2019 winners along with fourteen previous recipients will be exhibiting at this year’s Expo.

WINnovation Award Bottle at WIN Expo

“We give the WINnovation Awards because they are well deserved recognition for what these companies are doing, but also to alert the industry that here’s something new, perhaps an opportunity that can help improve their business,” says Christie. “I encourage everyone to come out the WIN Expo and talk to this year’s winners as well as the ones from previous years. Even if their innovation turns out not to be for you, you’ll learn something that you can use down the road.”

The conference component of the WIN Expo is divided into three tracks: Winemaking, Sales & Marketing, and Business Strategy & Leadership, and each track has three specialized sessions where topic experts share their knowledge and research findings on issues facing the industry.

“We monitor industry trends and listen to the experts, so that we can put together sessions that speak to the challenges the industry is working through now, but we also try to look ahead to arm our attendees for the future,” says Christie, “and then we bring in experts who can speak to those topics, some of them from outside the wine industry, some of them industry suppliers, and some of them industry professionals who have firsthand experience.”

Examples of session topics include: Smoke Taint; A New Perspective on the Challenges, Inconsistencies, and Treatment, Smart Packaging; Engaging with Consumers Like Never Before, and Navigating the Legal Landscape of Wine; Preparing for Changes in 2020.

WIN Expo winemaking session

When 2018 attendees were asked about their favorite part of the WIN Expo, the educational sessions were most frequently mentioned, but a close second was the opportunity to network with industry colleagues, and four out of five said they were likely or very likely to recommend their colleagues to attend the WIN Expo.

“The wine industry is a community,” says Christie, “we may be competitors, but we’re also colleagues, and there’s a great deal of generous knowledge sharing going on, not just from the speakers on stage but throughout the day on the show floor.”

WIN Expo 2019“We can bring in exhibitors and experts, but the attendees have to bring the community attitude for networking to happen, and I was very pleased to see that so many not only did that, but valued it enough to mention it. I put great emphasis on seeing old colleagues and meeting new ones, so I hope more people will come down to the fairground in December and do the same.”

Registration is now open for the WIN Expo, and more information about exhibitors, session topics, and speakers can be found at www.wineindustryexpo.com.


By Kim Badenfort

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