Why Virginia is a Great Wine Tourism Conference Host Location

We love moving the Wine Tourism Conference each year so attendees can experience new and often booming wine tourism locations. Virginia, in this respect, is a perfect location.

In this October 4th press release from Virginia Governor McAuliffe, the following interesting facts are included:

  • Sales of Virginia wine have increased by 26 percent since fiscal year 2010.
  • Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 250. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer.
  • The Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis.
  • More than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2014.

What these statistics don’t tell you is how the wineries in Loudoun County are literally exploding with wine tourism. I visited multiple wineries when I last visited in August and the growth they were experiencing – primarily from sales of wine on location – was amazing.

It is a different animal from the incredibly successful and yet far more established wine areas in California and is a story that will be fun to hear during the November 18-20 conference.

Workshops at WTC15

Five Optional, Pre-conference Workshops

WTC15 Workshops

The Wine Tourism Conference is pleased to offer additional learning opportunities outside the regular conference Agenda.  This year we have five, optional pre-conference Workshops on Wednesday, November 18.  Pre-conference Workshops represent interactive education in a smaller environment.  The Workshops are available to all conference attendees AS WELL AS non-conference attendees.  You don’t have to be registered for the conference to participate in a Workshop.  Crunched for time this November?  Consider joining us at a Workshop!  New to this year:  beer-industry specific Workshops that meet the business and marketing demand of the blossoming craft beer movement that is also happening in Loudoun County.  This year’s Workshops are geared towards wineries and breweries and any business involved in wine and/or beer and, specifically, winery tasting rooms and wine, food, and beer tour operators (or those that aspire to start a tour company) and anyone who markets on the web (99.9% of all involved in wine + tourism!).

Read below for details:

Workshops are offered in the morning (two to choose from) and afternoon (three to choose from) on Wednesday, November 18.

  • Digital Marketing for the Wine Industry (8:30 – 11:30 AM)
    • Digital marketing is easy to target to specific demographics, easy to track success, and often more cost effective than traditional advertising. This session will provide an in-depth look at digital marketing for the wine industry, including search engine optimization, content creation, social media, email marketing, online advertising, and video marketing. The workshop will be led by Nicole Skuba of BlueTreeDigital with wine industry expertise added by Gary Nealon of Wine Trail Adventures, whose specific expertise is using digital marketing to increase sales.
  • Beer Tourism (8:30 – 11:30 AM) 
    • Beer Tourism is just coming into its own but it is doing so quickly and powerfully. The rapid growth of breweries has been driven by the rapid growth in craft beer consumption and these two factors are driving the growth in beer tourism. And visitation to breweries is not only extremely important for the financial success of many small breweries, it also affects the local economy by filling beds and restaurant seats. “Beer tourism” has many levels, ranging from simply visiting a local brewery for a pint to seeking out the local brewery while on vacation to actually planning a trip to visit breweries to even joining full-fledged beer vacation tours. This workshop will discuss all aspects of beer tourism, with a focus on increasing visitors and improving experiences at the brewery level and promoting a region as a good place to visit for beer tourism. Our panelists include Mariah Calagione from Dogfish Head brewery; Virginia Brewers Guild Tourism & Marketing Committee Co-Chair Kevin O’Connor from O’Connor Brewing; and Tommy Miller of Richmond Brewery Tours.
  • Tasting Room Management (1 – 4 PM) 
    • Tasting Room Management is not only extremely important but also very complex. Tasting rooms not only are key to selling wine from the “cellar door” but they are also often the first impression given to potential customers about a winery. How you organize and manage your tasting room will have a definite affect on sales both on the spot and in the future. This workshop will cover all aspects of tasting room management, including setting hours, deciding on whether to require appointments, layout, staffing (hiring, managing, and training), pricing, selling, and gathering wine club members. Tasting room expert Elizabeth Slater from In Short Direct Marketing will run the workshop.
  • Creating & Growing a Food, Wine, or Beer Tour Operator Business (1 – 4 PM)
    •  If you are interested to start a tour company or wish to grow the one you already started this is the workshop for you!  You will learn from four established tour operators about selecting a niche, identifying your target market, marketing, insurance, employees, and more. In addition to presentations by established, successful operators this session will include significant group discussion as we share ideas, talk strategies, and make friendships. The discussion will include details of and be relevant to tour operators in the food, wine, and beer industries, which have many similarities but some differences. Our panelists include Jeff Swedarsky of Food Tour Corporation, Tommy Miller of Richmond Brewery Tours, Kristina Bouweiri of Reston Limo, and Jane Gregg of Epicurean Ways.
  • Digital Marketing for the Beer Industry (1 – 4 PM)
    • The craft beer industry is in an enviable position, with rapid growth in terms of breweries and beer consumption. Because of this, many breweries are more focused on producing good beer than they are on selling it. Nevertheless, wise industry participants are engaging with their customers and marketing to new ones via the Internet. This session will provide an in-depth look at digital marketing for the beer industry, including search engine optimization, content creation including blogs, social media, email marketing, online advertising, and video marketing. The workshop will be led by Nicole Skuba of BlueTreeDigital with beer industry expertise provided by Neal Stewart, Vice President of Marketing at Dogfish Head brewery.

Workshops are $125/each and there is a price break if you register for two ($200).  If you are already registered for WTC15, you can register for a Workshop via this link.  If you would like to register for the conference + Workshop/s, please use this, separate link

The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference Agenda is robust; the location at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg is awesome (just 25 minutes from the Washington Dulles International Airport!), and our conference Partners are fantastic.  We look forward to seeing you in Loudoun County, Virginia this November 18-20 for the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference!



2015 WTC Keynote Speaker Announced

Leader in International Wine Tourism Industry to Headline 2015 Wine Tourism Conference
Sally Cope of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia (UWEA) will share their success story in Loudoun County, Virginia this November

Sally Cope headshotEvery state in the U.S. and dozens of countries worldwide produce wine.  The Wine Tourism Conference aims to provide concrete, hard data specific to the wine industry for wineries and wine-oriented businesses and associations to learn from and bring back to their institutions.  The Keynote Address at the annual WTC aims to inspire and educate and we are excited to announce the delivery of the 2015 Keynote:  Sally Cope, Executive Officer of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia (UWEA), speaks on Friday, November 20 in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Australia is at the forefront among nations promoting wine tourism at the international level and bringing Sally to the Wine Tourism Conference will allow wine tourism leaders from throughout North America and beyond to hear about Australia’s success stories

relays Allan Wright, founder of the Wine Tourism Conference.

Per the official press release announcing Sally Cope’s Keynote Address, the UWEA represents the partnership between wineries, Tourism Australia and selected State Tourism Offices.  It is tasked with raising Australia’s profile as one of the world’s leading wine tourism destinations.  Sally relays that:

Through Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, we’ve been able to come together and showcase the exceptional wine tourism experiences in Australia…I hope to share our success story at the Wine Tourism Conference and show how partnerships and collaboration can help enhance the wine tourism industry.”

 Collaboration is emphasized on the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference Agenda.  The Breakout Sessions, “Promoting Your Wine Tourism Business Beyond Your Region” and “It Takes a Village: Working Together to Increase Tourism” highlight partnerships as a great way to leverage visibility and increase tourism opportunities.  Sally Cope’s Keynote Address dovetails nicely with the Visit Loudoun success in successfully growing their wine tourism in just a few short years and becoming recognized as “D.C.’s Wine Country” both regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We look forward to learning from the success story of the UWEA and how this translates to the North American wine landscape.  Thank you, Sally Cope, for traveling from your world of wine in Australia to Loudoun County, Virginia this November for the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference!

Zephyr Adventures is Hiring

Zephyr Adventures is hiring two marketing professionals with an application deadline of September 20th:

  • Conferences Marketing, Communications, and Sales Manager
  • Chief Operating Officer of a new Marketing Agency

Zephyr Adventures has been operating since 1997 as an active tour company and now also runs wine, beer, and food tours through its sister company Taste Vacations. In addition, Zephyr created the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008 and now runs six conferences per year related to wine, beer, food, and fitness.

We are a lifestyle company and only engage in industries we find fun and exciting.

The new two marketing professionals will be our seventh and eighth employees. Zephyr is entirely a virtual company with each person working out of his or her own home office, although the COO job above will likely require relocation. We do not work defined office hours and all Zephyr employees are free to take time off whenever they want to run, take a yoga class, or just go food shopping.

For complete information on the two jobs and to apply, see Zephyr Adventures is Hiring.

WTC15 Speakers Update

2015 Wine Tourism Conference Ramping Up
Line-up of speakers aims to educate and inspire

The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference heads to Loudoun County, Virginia this November 18-20.  We are excited to be on the East coast and experience the enthusiasm for the good life in “D.C’s Wine Country” this Fall.

We are also excited to announce the following speakers, experts in the field of wine tourism and some of whom are traveling from across the country to speak.  The 2015 Agenda is being updated, weekly, and we look forward to a valuable conference and one that will provide hard data and takeaways to improve one’s wine and/or tourism business.  We will be announcing the 2015 Keynote Speaker, shortly, too….pssstt….she’s awesome.

Wednesday, November 18TASTING ROOM MANAGEMENT – Pre-Conference Workshop + Thursday, November 19 – GUERILLA MARKETING: NO COST MARKETING STRATEGIES – Breakout Session

Elizabeth Slater

Elizabeth “E” Slater is an accomplished trainer, motivational speaker, marketer writer and teacher. Founder of In Short Direct Marketing, co-founder of the Wine Industry Network, sought after public speaker and seminar leader, she offers trainings and personalized marketing solutions to direct-sales businesses in the wine industry, throughout North America. Her 25+ years in marketing and experience with many wineries both large and small has helped her create a unique and cheerful approach to the most pressing challenges in the wine business.


Gail Thornton

Gail Thornton is Program Director for Southbridge Wine Programs, organizing high-level wine-focused program visits to Chile and other countries in South America. From 2007 to 2012, Gail worked with Wines of Chile (WoC), Chile’s wine industry agency, where she helped launch multiple initiatives including WoC’s Wine Tourism Program, the inaugural Workshop for Wine Tourism in Chile, the 2nd World Carmenere Competition in 2009, the 2010 World’s Best Sommelier Competition in Santiago, and the Annual Wines of Chile Awards.

Wednesday, November 18 -CREATING & GROWING a FOOD, WINE, or BEER TOUR OPERATOR BUSINESS – Pre Conference-Workshop

Jane Gregg

Jane Gregg is the founder and president of Epicurean Ways, which has been offering food tours to Spain since 2008 and now designs custom tours in Portugal and Spain for food and wine travelers. She has spent several years living in Spain and travels frequently to the Iberian peninsula.

Thursday, November 19 – WINE TOURISM IS AG TOURISM – All Group Panel

Kevin Atticks is the founder & CEO of Grow & Fortify, a firm that supports value-added agricultural businesses and strengthens the organizations that support them. Clients include the Maryland Wineries Association, Brewers Association of Maryland and newly formed Maryland Distillers Guild. Atticks has held the position as director of the Maryland Wineries Association since 2003. He authored the “Discovering Wineries” series of books and currently holds board positions on the Maryland Tourism Council (MTC) and WineAmerica, and is the past president of the Maryland Agriculture Resource Council (MARC).

David King

Thursday, November 19 - WINE TOURISM IS AG TOURISM – All Group Panel

David King is the founder and chairman of King Family Vineyards in Virginia. Winegrape farming since 1999 and producing wine on their estate since 2000, King Family Vineyards is considered one of the more successful wineries in the state both in terms of wine (winners of the Virginia Governor’s Cup for most outstanding wine of 2014) and wine tourism. David is currently Chairman of the Virginia Wine Board, a state advisory and operational board formally appointed by the Governor that advises the Governor and Secretariat on wine matters, and is one of the closest wine industry advisers to Virginia’s secretary of agriculture.


Camron King

Camron King is the Executive Director of theLodi Winegrape Commission, overseeing all of the Commission’s marketing, promotion, strategic planning, and regional branding efforts, as well as grower constituent relations. He is the the primary spokesperson for the Lodi wine industry. In addition to his work at the Commission, Camron serves on the Program Development Committee for the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Grape and Wine Initiative, and on the Advisory Board of the Wine Tourism Conference.

Thursday, November 19 – IT TAKES A VILLAGE – WORKING TOGETHER TO INCREASE TOURISM – Breakout Session + Friday, November 20 - CUSTOMER SERVICE: HOW TO SET YOUR BRAND APART – Breakout Session

Katy Rogers is Director of Direct-to-Consumer Sales for the South Coast atJackson Family Wines. SKaty Westgaard Rogershe was formerly Director of Direct-to-Consumer for Presqu’ile Winery, helped launch the Byron Winery tasting room and DTC business, worked for Gallo as their Santa Barbara Territory Chain Manager, and managed the DTC business for both Cambria and Byron wineries. Katy has been involved with all aspects of Direct-to-Consumer Sales, including managing a tasting room, growing a successful wine club, increasing social media presence, and building successful teams.


Ron ScharmanRon Scharman is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Chatterbox Wine Marketing Services andVinoVisit.com, Napa-based companies which offer relationship-based wine telesales, visitor reservation and guest management services, and other consumer direct marketing services exclusively for the wine industry.  Previously, for 7 years he was President of eWinery Solutions, a leading provider of complete direct-to-consumer wine ecommerce, POS, and CRM software for wineries and third party wine marketers. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer for New Vine Logistics, a Napa based direct-to-consumer wine fulfillment company, and served as Chief Executive Officer of the Morrell Wine Group in New York, as well as holding major COO and CEO positions with several national specialty retail chains in the cosmetics and fragrance, home decorating, and fashion industries.

Lansdowne Resort the Perfect Wine Tourism Conference Host

I recently spent two nights in the Lansdowne Resort, host hotel for the upcoming 2015 Wine Tourism Conference. No offense to our previous conference sites, but the Lansdowne Resort is by far the nicest property we have used for a conference.


Located along the Potomac River near Leesburg, Virginia, the Lansdowne is a AAA Four Diamond venue with all the luxuries you might want. Consider:

  • 550 acres of beauty
  • Only eight miles from Dulles International Airport with a 50% conference discount on the airport shuttle
  • Gateway to Northern Virginia’s wine country
  • Spa, 45 holes of golf, five pools (closed in winter), tennis, and even a FootGolf course
  • Full fitness center including exercise classes
  • Fantastic conference facilities replete with excellent AV, plenty of space, and even luxurious “executive” chairs

We have secured a fantastic conference rate of $169, which includes the resort fee. Compare this to the $279 rate including resort fee available to the public as listed on the website for our conference dates.

The best, however, is the Lansdowne Resort is a major participant in wine tourism. Their home page bills them as the Gateway to Virginia Wine Country, they offer local wines (and beers) on their menu, and in answer to my question the staff told me visitors to the areas wineries were an important and growing part of their business.

Our room block is limited, so please book early via our Group Reservation Link and consider extending your stay before or after the conference!

2015 Wine Tourism Conference Agenda Outline

The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference heads to Loudoun County, VA this November 18-20.  The Virginia wine industry is buzzing with energy and enthusiasm for the culture of wine and we very much look forward to being in “DC’s Wine Country” this Fall for the annual forum of all things wine + tourism.

We are delighted to announce that the 2015 Agenda is being finalized and well in advance of the conference.  We have worked hard to secure relevant program content for the conference and are confirming speakers.  Please take a peek at the current schedule of topics covered at this year’s Wine Tourism Conference in Leesburg:

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.52.51 PM


Current WTC Agenda

Wednesday, November 18

Optional, pre-conference Workshops
Three sessions in the morning & afternoon to choose from:

8:30-11:30 AM
• Digital Marketing for the Wine Industry
• Tasting Room Management
• Beer Tourism (intended for the local beer industry)

— Can attend the Workshops separately from and/or in addition to the Conference —

1-4 PM
• Customer Relationship Management
• Creating & Growing a Food, Wine, or Beer Tour Operator Business
• Digital Marketing for the Beer Industry (intended for the local beer industry)

Wine Tourism Expo & Opening Night Wine Reception
5-7 PM  Meet all conference partners and enjoy wines from across North America and the world

Thursday, November 19

9:15-9:30 AM – Conference Opening & Welcome

9:30-10:15 AM – Welcome to Loudoun County & Virginia
We’ll hear from the experts who put Loudoun County & Virginia on the map as a major wine tourism destination

10:15-11:15 AM – Wine Tourism is Ag Tourism
Hear from experts in the food tourism and ag industries about state policies, current trends and other items affecting ag tourism and how it relates to wine tourism

11:30-12:30 PM – Wine Tourism Research
Learn about the latest research in wine tourism from various regional and national studies

12:30-2:00 PM - Lunch Break

2-3 PM – Breakout Sessions
Guerilla Marketing: No-Cost Marketing Solutions
• Technology & the Wine Industry: What is Working Now

3:15-4:15 PM - Breakout Sessions
• It Takes a Village: Working Together to Increase Tourism
• Public Relations for the Wine Industry: How to Pitch to the Media

4:15-5:45 PM – Wine Reception

6:00 PM – Dinner

Friday, November 20

9-10 AM – How the Media Sees Your Wine Business
Hear from professional wine and tourism writers about their relationship with wine tourism & how you can engage with them

10-11 AM – Panel of State Tourism Directors
Leaders of three state tourism agencies will discuss, in-depth, their efforts to promote wine tourism

11:15-12:15 PM – Breakout Sessions
• Customer Service: How to Set Your Brand Apart
• Promoting Your Wine Tourism Business Beyond Your Region

12:15-1:45 PM – Lunch

1:45 – 3:15 PM - Three Perspectives on International Wine Tourism
An opportunity to learn from wine tourism practices from outside the U.S.

3:30-4:15 PM – Keynote Speaker

4:15-5 PM – Conference Close/Announcement of 2016 Location

5 PM - Depart for Overnight Post-Conference Excursion

Loudoun Country Celebrating 20 Awesome Years of Tourism

The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference is located in a new wine region every year.  We are heading to “DC’s Wine Country” this November 18-20 and are humbled to provide the annual forum for the many winery associations, tourism associations, wineries, tour operators, wine students, academics, hoteliers, and media who attend the conference every year in Loudoun County, VA, a region that continues to be praised for their tourism successes.

recent article in the Washington Post highlights the positive impact the tourism association, Visit Loudoun, has had in bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the area to enjoy the dozens of wineries, breweries, tasting rooms, restaurants, and shopping options over the past 20 years. The Washington Post article relays:

Now there are more than 35 hotels and 40 wineries, and nearly a dozen breweries, with several more expected to open in the coming months …

 The amount of traveler spending in the county surged from $618 million in 1997 to about $1.5 billion in 2013. As of that same year, there were more than 15,800 tourism-related jobs …”

Tourism is a mainstay of the economy in Loudoun County and the Wine Tourism Conference is pleased to showcase the successes of this region at the 2015 conference.  Their commitment to succeeding in bringing monetary and cultural value to their county is impressive and this is one of the many reasons why we chose to host the convergence of all things wine + tourism in Leesburg this November.  It’s access to national and international attendees makes it very convenient (the Dulles Airport is just 12 miles away); the host hotel, the Lansdowne Resort, is fabulous and über prepared for our annual forum; and Visit Loudoun is incredibly helpful in their outreach in all things content and otherwise related to orchestrating a stellar, valuable, and rich conference experience.

We look forward to hosting this year’s Wine Tourism Conference in “DC’s Wine Country” this November!




5 Reasons to Attend WTC15 in Loudoun County, VA

The 5th annual Wine Tourism Conference is heading to Loudoun Country, Virginia November 18-20, 2015. We are excited to be in “DC’s Wine Country” this year and surrounded by a wine savvy, metropolitan population that actively pursues wine tourism.  In the wine business and thinking about attending this year’s Wine Tourism Conference?  We think you should!

5 Reasons to Attend the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference

1.  Location, Location, Location

loudin-county-picnic-sf13The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference takes place at the Lansdowne Resort in the heart of Virginia Wine Country and in Loudoun Country.  Virginia has excelled in recent years at promoting itself both as a wine producer and also as a tourism destination.  The combination of the two makes this is a perfect destination for the first-ever East Coast host of the Wine Tourism Conference.


The Lansdowne Resort is in Leesburg, VA and is located just 25 minutes from Washington Dulles International Airport.  Lansdowne Resort is the preeminent resort, spa, and golf club experience in Northern Virginia and is also an IACC certified conference center.  We look forward to a great conference experience and have a great room block rate for WTC15 attendees.

 2.  Conference Partnerships & Content

Visit Loudoun is the destination management organization for Loudoun Country and its incorporated towns. They lead the Loudoun touVisit_Loudounrism industry and are an Elite Sponsor of the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference.  We have been working with Visit Loudoun for many months to organize the logistics and help curate content. They are very well organized and super personable and are eager to host a top notch Wine Tourism Conference.  We look forward to their insights into wine tourism!

The conference Agenda is updated monthly and we look forward to learning from all conference speakers and contributors.  Back by popular demand are optional, pre-conference Workshops, the day before the conference begins.  Workshops provide 3 hour hands-on learning sessions in a smaller environment.

3. Networking & Learning from Peers

What industry event brings together wineries from across the country, wine tour operators, winery associations, tourism associations, students of wine and wine business, pr professionals, members of the media, and many other wine related businesses?  There is a great collaborative spirit at the Wine Tourism Conference – some of the best things learned come from open discussions and sharing by attendees.

4. Wine Tourism is a Growing Industry


Olive oil tasting before wine tasting in wine country

The concept of “wine tourism” is growing world-wide and regions around the world are organizing efforts to increase wine tourism to their areas. The US celebrated it’s second “Wine Tourism Day” last year (the 2015 Wine Tourism Day is November 7) and governments around the globe are thoughtfully investing in their wine tourism programs in order to meet consumer demand.  The Wine Tourism Conference is the best way to understand the trends in wine tourism in order to increase visibility, winery visitor numbers, hospitality standards, and profitability.

5.  Wine is Awesome

The wine sector is culturally significant for a number of reasons:  it supports agriculture, contributes to the historical underpinnings of many regions around the globe, promotes education and learning about other cultures, and, of course, is loads of fun…The Wine Tourism Conference aims to support the wine industry and promote wine + tourism in all its ways, shapes, and forms.

Registration for the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference is open.  We look forward to seeing you in Loudoun County, Virginia this November!

Wine Tourism Conference Call for Content

We are super excited to be heading to Loudoun County, Virginia for the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference. Loudoun County and the state of Virginia are putting a lot of time and effort into hosting and we think you will see the results. At the same time, the WTC is dependent on good content and speakers and we need your input.

If you would like to speak or have a suggestion for a speaker or topic, please fill out the form below by the end of February. We are looking for suggestions for the following content areas:

Keynote Speakers: We welcome suggestions for keynote speakers, especially if you have heard the individual speak before and were wowed by the talk. Keynote speakers should be able to deliver a thoughtful, motivational talk relevant to wine tourism.

Breakout Sessions: These 60 minute sessions present the opportunity to hear from experts in fields relative to wine tourism and represent a wide range of topic possibilities. Attendees choose to attend one of three Breakouts at each time block.

Panel Sessions:  These 60 minutes discussions are presented to the entire WBC audience.  Panel Sessions generally involve well-known speakers on subjects of interest to everyone.

Pre-Conference Workshops:  Block Sessions are three hours long and offer hands-on learning in a smaller group format.

We appreciate your input!