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Enoforum USA: Bringing International Research and Innovation Stateside

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By Alexandra Russell

In 2019, George Christie, president of Wine Industry Network, was approached about bringing Enoforum, Europe’s largest technical-specific wine conference, to the United States. 

“One of the vendors we work with, Enartis, contacted me and suggested we consider working with Vinidea to bring their very successful event, Enoforum, to the United States,” Christie recalls. “They felt the program would be well received by the winemaking audience here.”

Since debuting in Europe in 2000, Enoforum has established a reputation for bringing together producers, technicians, oenologists and agronomists, researchers and technology suppliers to spur innovation in the wine sector.

Giani Trioli, CEO at Vinidea (which produces the conference), explains, “Enoforum was tailored over decades [to address] the needs of European stakeholders. We are aware that American winegrowers have their own style and background, so before starting Enoforum’s United States adventure, we looked for a local partner with deep knowledge of the American wine industry and [an understanding] of its main challenges and needs. WIN can advise us on this, and additionally has experience in organization of B2B events in the sector.”

An online first run

George Christie
George Christie, President / Wine Industry Network

In 2021, Enoforum USA welcomed attendees to a virtual event that attracted more than 1,500 attendees. Since that time, those sessions have been rebroadcast to thousands more. 

“We had planned to produce the event in-person in May of 2020,” says Christie. “But, as with all events, the pandemic drove us to take it virtual the first year.”

It may have been a blessing in disguise, as it helped Vinidea learn the ropes of online conferencing. “The pandemic situation gave Vinidea the opportunity to build up a unique expertise in the organization of virtual congresses,” says Trioli. “We organized in [these shutdown years] several scientific and technical conferences, with up to 5,500 registered for multilingual events.”

Finding the bright side in a hard situation is all well and good, but now it’s time to come back together — meet up face-to-face — and really experience all that Enoforum truly is. On May 11, 2022, Enoforum USA will open doors for an in-person day of educational seminars, informational sessions and equipment demonstrations. The line-up of events promises to propel the U.S. wine industry forward by sharing the results of international oenological research featuring the latest innovations in winemaking and production.

Choosing topics and presenters

Gianni Trioli, CEO of Vinidea
Gianni Trioli, CEO of Vinidea

When it comes to specific topics to be addressed, Enoforum USA will follow in the footsteps of its European sibling. Luckily, it can rely on the expertise of Vinidea, which specializes in the transfer of innovation to the wine sector. For 20 years, Vinidea has been creating opportunities for the exchange of information between the worlds of research and production and wine-producing regions internationally. 

“The golden rule of Enoforum is to provide valuable information to wine industry stakeholders,” says Trioli. Using its network of international contacts, Vinidea “narrowed topics of greatest interest from among about 40 talks [that had previously been] selected as oral presentations by highly authoritative and international scientific committees, such as Macrowine.”

He continues, “From this survey, we sorted a preference list and contacted the [corresponding] scientists and experts. All speakers accepted the invitation, and several were very excited for a first-time opportunity to present their scientific advancements to U.S. wine industry stakeholders.”

A research presentation at Enoforum Spain
A research presentation at Enoforum Spain

Topics at this year’s Enoforum USA will include several different yeast studies, from using new strains to mitigate the effects of climate change to the impact of different inoculation times and preparation methods, among others. Climate change will also be addressed in terms of its effect on red wine aromas. Sparkling wine makes a few appearances as well, with sessions on disgorgement and dosage, and on developing MLF for organoleptic complexity. 

A case study will examine how organic, biodynamic and conventional production processes affect wine outcomes. Light struck taste will also be addressed, as will new winemaking developments including digital technologies and an alternative to traditional pump-over vinification.

Equipment demonstrations will include new filling and optical sorting techniques. A trial tasting will compare wines before and after smoke taint removal processes — an important topic, especially in California.

Made in the USA

The spirit of Enoforum is the same in Europe and the United States, but the format and the topics are tailored to the needs of local stakeholders. Some presentations can be the same, but only when the challenges of Europeans and Americans overlap.

Tasting seminar at Enoforum Spain
Tasting seminar at Enoforum Spain

International speakers will be live streamed in. Says Christie, “The international research is a huge draw in Europe — and, I suspect over time, that will be the same here in the United States.”

Adds Trioli, “Enoforum is an informative event tailored to frontrunner winegrowers. The aim is to provide them scientific, practical and commercial information needed [to  continue implementing] innovations in their production.

“U.S. winemakers and viticulturists are known to be very innovative and [to have] a solid technical and scientific background. We can assume that there is a significant segment of practitioners [in the United States] who should be interested in Enoforum’s unique format.”

Welcome back

Enoforum USA will bring cutting-edge wine and viticultural research to its audience in May, but the biggest draw this year could be simply being there

Networking and company booths at Enoforum Spain
Networking and company booths at Enoforum Spain

“The in-person version of Enoforum allows for the whole range of modalities by which Enoforum provides useful information to the winegrowers,” says Trioli. “That includes tastings, detailed information by supplier experts at the booths and demos, and discussion with colleagues on the cost/benefit ratio of the innovations.”

Christie concurs: “As we’ve learned, there’s a lot to be said for what we can do virtually. It lets us feature speakers from all over the world and reach a much larger audience. But there’s no substitute for bringing people together. 

“With Enoforum USA, it’s really the best of both worlds. Some of the presentations will be in person and some — in particular, the international research — will be streamed in. It’s great, because we’ll be able to be in person but also feature researchers from all over the world that our audience [here] might never have had the opportunity to hear.”

To be part of the conversation, register for the May 11 Enoforum USA 2022 conference in Sonoma County, Calif.

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Alexandra Russel headshotAlexandra Russell

Alexandra Russell is Managing Editor at Wine Industry Advisor. She can be reached at [email protected]

 
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