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How to Go Digital and Beyond COVID: Focus on Inclusion and Female Leadership at Wine2Wine Business Forum 2020 

Rania Zayyat, founder of Wonder Women of Wine and co-founder at Be The Change

On November 23rd and 24th, the wine2wine business forum will take place for the first time in an all-digital version. The two days of the event will see over 50 online sessions and more than 70 international speakers come together in this innovative platform. While the 2019 edition had brought the wine industry closer to the theme of social sustainability, this year Vinitaly International and VeronaFiere wanted to be even more specific, focusing on the inclusion and role of women in the world of wine. 

 The ongoing public health emergency is having a major impact on physical events. But «every crisis brings both risk and opportunity», says Stevie Kim, curator of the wine2wine Business Forum project for Veronafiere. The wine2wine forum embraced the opportunity to become a digital event, and it rises to demonstrate that adaptation does not necessarily imply an actual impoverishment.

The wine2wine Business Forum has always gathered hundreds of international wine professionals in Verona and given life to a thriving two-day long conversation about the business of wine. Now in its 7th edition, on November 23rd and 24th the discourse will be open to anyone, anywhere: by going digital, the wine2wine Business Forum will allow ticket holders and speakers to connect, network and learn from any location in the world. The organizers have managed to recruit a number of speakers that otherwise would not have been able to participate for reasons such as time commitment or the difficulties posed by international travel. 

The COVID emergency is not the only one to have dominated 2020. The wine industry has been rocked by two stories showing just how long the road to inclusion continues to be. First came “Wine Bitch” in Europe, followed swiftly by the scandal of sexual harassment that has hit the Court of Master Sommelier in the USA. Both episodes are prime examples of the need for a platform that brings together different and diverse voices to enact positive change in the wine industry. This platform is exactly what the next edition of wine2wine strives to be.  

As well as implementing a focus on inclusion and female leadership, this year wine2wine has done everything to bring participants the most diverse version ever. The forum has lined-up speakers not only from broad cultural backgrounds but has also broadened the discussion to markets that rarely see inclusion in prestigious wine events. In addition, there is a common thread of strong female leadership steering the event. 

Among the experts who will be on the virtual stage of the forum for the first time, there are: Sandra Taylor, President and CEO of Sustainable Business International; Stephanie Gallo, Marketing Director of E.& J. Gallo Winery; Rania Zayyat, founder of Wonder Women of Wine; Jermaine Stone, founder and CEO of Cru Luv Wine; and Kodjo Adovor, founder and sommelier of the Africa Wine Club. Among the speakers who will hold the 4 key sessions are: wine writers Julia Coney and Elaine Chukan Brown, journalists Felicity Carter and Rebecca Hopkins, and two Masters of Wine, Jeannie Cho Lee MW and Sarah Heller MW.  

The wine2wine Business Forum 2020 has created a series of paths to facilitate participants in exploring the themes on which the next edition will be based. These routes are visible on the programme in the form of “tracks”, such as those highlighting “diversity and inclusion” and “Post COVID Era” discussions. You can navigate the full programme on the website of the event (https://www.wine2wine.net/programme/?lang=en). Early bird Tickets will be available until November 13th; ticket sales end on November, 20th. 

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