2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference Call For Content

The Call for Content and Speakers for the 2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference is now open:

Content Proposal Form

Please keep in mind several things concerning content proposals:

  • The last day to submit a proposal is Monday, March 20
  • All content sessions should be related to wine marketing and/or wine tourism
  • The best sessions provide real-world examples and offer concrete, useful takeaways
  • We already have pre-conference workshops set up covering more than any previous conference.  Each 3 hour session will cover digital marketing, photography & videography, tasting room management, best practices for tour operators, and winery and tourism associations.
  • We will take all proposals, edit as needed based on our experience and prior history of presentations, and present to the WMTC alumni for their vote, March 24 – 31
  • Those sessions that get rated as most interesting will be the ones accepted into the conference agenda
  • We will provide a free registration to all speakers but presenters must pay their own travel and hotel costs

The 2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will attract approximately 250 high-level attendees from around North America and the world.  This years conference will precede the VERY highly attended Wine Bloggers Conference – November 9-12.  If you and your team are curious to attend BOTH conferences, we have some unique discounts to offer that you will receive once you have completed your WMTC17 registration.

Please considering joining us and register today!

Intensive Workshops at 2017 WMTC

For years now one of the most well-received aspects of the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference have been the three-hour intensive workshops that take place the day prior to the actual conference. These workshops allow us to focus on a specific subject and audience, provide more in-depth coverage of a subject, and allow time for interaction between the audience and presenters.

In 2017 we have five workshops set for Monday, November 6. Two take place in the morning and are designed to be appropriate for all attendees. Three take place in the afternoon and are specifically targeted to wineries, tour operators, and winery associations / DMOs. Workshops require an additional registration fee of $125 for one or $200 for both morning and afternoon; you need not be registered to the conference to attend the workshops.

For complete details and to register, please see the Workshops page. Brief summaries of the five outstanding workshops are below.

Morning Workshops (8:30 – 11:30 AM): Choose One

Eight Pillars of Digital Marketing: Robyn Scott and Beth Peluse, both of whom work for conference organizer Zephyr Conferences and each of whom has worked for digital marketing agencies in the past, will present Zephyr’s comprehensive “Eight Pillars of Digital Marketing”. The content will be tailored to the wine industry and is applicable both to those relatively new to digital marketing and those more experienced.

Practical Photography and Videography: We all know a photo is worth a thousand words and the future of online communication is video. Yet too many wine industry businesses  are not equipped to take, edit, and promote either photos or videos – and not ready or able to hire a professional to do this for them. Our presenter is Lisa Mattson from Jordan Vineyard & Winery, orchestrator of the Journey of Jordan wine blog that has won awards for its photography and videography.

Afternoon Workshop Options (1:00 – 4:00 PM): Choose One

Tasting Room Management: Tasting rooms are key to selling wine from the “cellar door” and are often the first and only impression of the winery for potential customers. This workshop will cover all aspects of tasting room management, including staffing (hiring, managing, and training), layout, pricing, selling, wine selection and pricing, wine club memberships, non-wine merchandise, setting hours, deciding on whether to require appointments, and more. The workshop will be led by Sandra Hess, the founder of DTC Wine Workshops, which supports wineries of all sizes in the areas of e-commerce, CRM, DTC Strategic Planning, and Training Services.

Best Practices for Tour Operators: Join a couple dozen of your peers as we discuss best practices in running a tour operator business. While this workshop is designed for those running beer, wine, and food tours, it will be applicable to all tour operators (day tours or vacation tours) and those considering starting a company. We will discuss selecting a niche, identifying your target market, insurance, employees, guides, pricing, selecting tour locations, running great tours, and soliciting feedback. The workshop will be facilitated by Allan Wright, who has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has 19 years experience operating two tour companies (Zephyr Adventures and Taste Vacations).

Winery Associations & DMOs Workshop & Summit: Winery associations and tourism promotion agencies based in wine regions (Destination Management Organizations, Chambers of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, etc) work hard year round promoting their region to visitors interested in wine. These associations play a critical role in defining their region, creating awareness, and helping members achieve success. Our presenters will include Ken Fischang, President / CEO of Sonoma County Tourism; Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers; and a representative of Sonoma County Vintners to be announced. These three agencies have done a stellar job at promoting wine and wine tourism in Sonoma County, are a model for the country (and the world), and will have lots to impart.

Texas Hospitality: Dinner and Dancing at Luckenbach


LuckenbachimagesEach year of the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference is different in terms of meals and events, depending on our local hosts. In Texas, our local partners dialed up hospitality to a new level.

Two lunches and one dinner were included in the conference price, which is pretty amazing. The lunches were at local wineries Woodrose Winery and Becker Vineyards, which we appreciated very much. But it was the dinner at famous local roadhouse Luckenbach that stole the show.

Luckenbach is a combination of a small town and roadhouse made famous by the Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song. It has a dance hall, bar, pickers (strings, not grapes) circle, and even a post office.

Our evening at Luckenbach, hosted by the Fredericksburg CVB, included wine tasting, dinner, and dancing. Check out this awesome dinner menu, a combination of local Tex-Mex with the historic German roots of Fredericksburg:

  • Station One: Shrimp wrapped in bacon with asadero cheese and jalapeño sliver, beef and chicken street tacos, Broken Arrow Ranch axis tamales, and Honeybee Farms vegetable quesadilla
  • Station Two: Opa’s bratwurst with sauerkraut, Fredericksburg Farms zwiebelkuchen (German onion tort), Dutchman’s Schnitzel on a Sticket, and pommes frites cones.
  • Station Three: Mini pecan pie tarts, mini black forest tarts, and apfel strudel

Thank you to our local hosts, Visit Fredericksburg, Texas Hill Country Wineries and Go TEXAN!

Be sure to subscribe to the WMTC blog feed to get news. and updated as planning for 2017 gets underway.

Stay connected with WMTC on Facebook and Twitter!

Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference to Return to Sonoma County in 2017

The Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will return to Sonoma County in 2017, November 6-8 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, California. The conference will take place immediately prior to the 10th annual Wine Bloggers Conference.

Registration Is Open Now

Next year will be the seventh running of the WMTC. Previous stops were Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, Paso Robles, Virginia, and Texas. We have decided to return to Sonoma County for two main reasons.

Swmtc-no-date-with-signboardsonoma and Napa are, of course, the heart of the North American wine industry and this will make the conference more accessible to the bulk of the wine industry. In addition, 2017 marks the 10th year anniversary of the Wine Bloggers Conference, which will take place November 9 – 12 in the same hotel. This will allow wine industry participants from across the country to schedule one trip to participate in both conferences.

Pricing for WMTC17

Pricing for the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will again be based on when you register:

$325 through December 31, 2016
$350 through March 31, 2017
$375 through June 30, 2017
$400 through September 30, 2017
$425 after September 30, 2017

As always, workshops (already set) and optional excursions (to be set) are extra. Citizen Bloggers and Media can receive a 50% discount and groups of three or more attendees from the same company/organization using a company email address can request a code from us for a $50 discount per person. Plus (see below) there are discounts if you register for both WBC and WMTC.

Attending Both the WMTC and WBC

The Wine Bloggers Conference is not just for bloggers. The content is appropriate for everyone and the connections you make as an industry member can be invaluable. Here are two ways you can participate in the Wine Bloggers Conference:

  • Attend both the WMTC and WBC. If you register at the full (non-blogger) industry price for both the Wine Bloggers Conference and the WMTC, you can receive a $75 discount off both conferences. Just contact us for the code. (Not combinable with other discounts.)
  • You can choose to sponsor the Wine Bloggers Conference. Sponsorships start at $500 for Live Wine Blogging (the premier event at the conference) or $2,000 to sponsor the Thursday opening Reception & Expo. So even if you can’t attend the entire WBC, you can stay through Thursday to pour your wines and present your information to all WBC attendees.

We hope you can join us in 2017. Please consider registering today!

Thank You TEXAS!


When Zephyr Conferences sat down in Virginia with our future #WMTC16 conference hosts, we knew this coming year would be fantastic.  Each step of the way to planning the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference, our wonderful Texas hosts have been engaged and passionate about sharing the Texas Hill Country with wine industry professionals from across the country.  Through the entire conference, Fredericksburg, Texas has glowed with charm, friendly people and fantastically impressive wines.  #WMTC16 attendees have been given a glimpse into the Texas spirit and have had loads of fun experiencing Texas wines.  Thank you to our hosts and sponsors; Visit Fredericksburg, GO TEXAN and Texas Hill Country Wineries who have shown us such incredible Texas hospitality.

Texas Hill Country has been amazing and as we searched for a new location for 2017, WMTC is excited to head to Santa Rosa in 2017!  We will be hosting a unique format for WMTC17 just before the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference.  For those looking for more content or to connect with dedicated wine writers, we hope you consider joining us for both events.  More details to some soon and please stay up to date by following the blog feed here.

See you in 2017 as #WBC17 already has a record attendance and we expect to sell out for both wine events.

Cheers to TEXAS and a great 2016 event and see you next year!

WMTC16 Workshop and Wine Expo Recap

A huge thank you to our #WMTC16 2016 sponsors!


Looking back on the pre-conference workshops and wine expo, the day was a huge success offering content for attendees who received in-depth information on social media and online advertising targeted for the wine industry as well as tasting room management, best practices for tour operators and a winery associations summit.  To see what sessions were offered during the workshops this year, read the descriptions and their associated blog posts here.

Following the workshops, the 2016 Wine Tourism Expo did not disappoint with a heavily attended wine party celebrating wines from across the country.  Wine was poured and presented to attendees from emerging wine regions and, of course, wines produced locally in the Texas Hill Country.  After networking and making some new friends, many attendees were whisked off the William Chris Vineyards for a private wine dinner and winery tour.

Today marks the first official day of #WMTC16 beginning at 9am with Bryan Daniel from the Economic Development and Tourism Division of the Texas Governor’s Office.  This morning, WMTC16 content will continue to focus on wine and tourism progression in Fredericksburg, Texas and the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from principal players in the wine tourism development in the area and learn more about winery development and production in Texas.  Following an in-depth introduction to Texas wines will be a panel of wine writers discussing relationships with wineries, wine tour operators and destination tourism agencies working as influencers in the wine industry across the country.  Attendees are all invited to Woodrose Winery for a wine lunch excursion which will be a real treat.

As we continue into day 1, be sure follow along with the agenda for the day and stay tuned with all things #WMTC16 on Twitter!


WMTC17 Nearly Sold Out

The 2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference has 195 registered attendees and is nearly sold out!sold-out

In fact, the two included lunches and the Wednesday dinner have already reached capacity. Therefore, the $395  “all-access” tickets we have been selling are no longer available.

Instead, here are two options for you if you wish to still join the conference:

Those registering for the conference now will still have the option on the registration form to register for the workshops, Monday and Friday wine excursions, and Tuesday and Thursday optional dinners. Remember those of you already registered for the conference can also separately register for these additional meals and excursions.

Representation from Across North America at the WMTC

wmtc-perspectivesOne of the benefits of moving the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference each year is that it makes it more easily attended by the local wine and tourism industries. This year we will have big representation from Texas.

Yet the WMTC attracts attendees from throughout North America every year. At this point, we already have registrations from 23 different US states and Canadian provinces.

One advantage to this wide representation is learning about the many booming wine regions in North America, often due to local sales and visitation. This year, we have a special session titled Perspectives on Wine Tourism from Emerging Regions with these speakers:

  • Lorri Hathaway, Michigan
  • Chris Goblet, New Mexico
  • Miki Finnin, Oklahoma
  • Aaron Liersemann, Mt. Hood Territory, Oregon
  • Nicholas Wilson, British Columbia
  • Jess Koehler, Ramona Valley, California
  • Cheryl Smith, Georgia
  • Gillian Mainguy, Nova Scotia
  • Rebecca Gushen, Maryland
  • Kristin Ballard, Nebraska
  • Devon Perry, South Jersey

When before have you ever had a chance to learn about the wine industry in all these regions, much less all at one time?

Another advantage is getting to taste wines from a large number of locations. In 2016, our Expo will include wines from these states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Washington

If you represent a wine region not represented in the above list, please register for the conference today!

Tasting Room Management with the Pros

tasting-room-managmenetOn Tuesday, November 8th the pre-conference workshops will kick off!  The 2015 workshops were very well received and this year the workshop sessions were designed to go even more in-depth based on feedback from last year’s attendees.
The morning workshop will focus solely on digital marketing including social media and online advertising for wineries and wine destinations.  The afternoon workshop will feature 3 choices for attendees:
  • Tasting Room Management – read below!
  • Best Practices for Tour Operators – see blog post here
  • Winery Association & Tourism Agency Workshop & Summit – see blog post here

We hope you will join us for both the morning and one of the afternoon sessions!

Tasting Room Management Workshop

This year’s tasting room management workshop is set up a bit differently.  Attendees will learn best practices for leveraging an ideal blend of technology and processes to convert first-time visitors into loyal customers and club members. A “tasting room management checklist” will be provided with five improvements that can be implemented the very next day. The workshop will be led by Sandra Hess, the founder of DTC Wine Workshops, which supports wineries of all sizes in the areas of e-commerce, CRM, DTC Strategic Planning, and Training Services. Assisting Sandra will be tasting room pros Jesse Barter, General Manager of 4.0 Cellars; Anthony Harvell, Director of Sales and Operations for William Chris Wines; and Sabrina Houser, owner of Dry Comal Creek Vineyards.
We got a chance to ask Sandra a few questions about what attendees can expect to take away from her workshop:
Can you paint us a picture of what a successful tasting room should look like?

A successful tasting room is filled with engaged customers, club members and first-time visitors enjoying a variety of tasting experiences. Consumer demand is shaping the way wineries throughout the nation are updating their tasting options. Millennials are showing a great interest in wine exploration and want more education and high-impact experiences when visiting wineries. Loyal club members and long-term customers expect to be treated like VIP’s when visiting the tasting room and in many cases are looking to make an advance reservation or enjoy a club member lounge space. The key ingredients to managing a successful tasting room is having the right people and systems in place. In the Tasting Room Management workshop at the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference on November 8th, the top five tools for managing a successful tasting rooms and growing direct wine sales will be revealed.

Can you tell us a few mistakes that wineries make in setting up what they perceive as a good tasting room environment?

While creating a sense of demand is great for selling more wine, tasting room managers who aren’t mindful of managing guest experiences will lose out on repeat business. Most of us have been in a crowded tasting room where it is difficult to event get up to the tasting bar let alone get our hands on the first pour. As direct to consumer wine sales now represents over $2 billion in wines shipped and consumers want more from their visits to tasting rooms, it is essential for tasting room managers to map out guest experiences and have a solid plan in place. To maximize use of space and ensure that both first time visitors and repeat customers are welcomed properly and treated with care, the proper mix of staffing and tasting spaces need to be in place. More will be revealed around the top mistakes to avoid in our workshop session. 

When looking at smaller wineries, what is the most important factor they should be investing in when developing a plan for setting up their cellar door sales?

Smaller wineries have the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with tasting room visitors that can lead to long-term and loyal customers relationships. The most important factor in building a successful direct to consumer sales division is to listen to customer feedback and match tasting experiences and events that appeal to the interests of most. Training the tasting room staff to first offer excellent hospitality and the wine experiences will ensure that customers keep coming back. Documenting key data through the POS and CRM systems doesn’t need to be cumbersome but is critical in staying connected to repeat customers and club members. We will be sharing case studies around how small wineries are leveraging the right tools to grow direct sales in this hands-on workshop session.
Sandra HessSandra Hess is the founder of DTC Wine Workshops, which supports wineries of all sizes in the areas of e-commerce, CRM, DTC Strategic Planning, and Training Services to grow direct to consumer wine sales and retain loyal customers. Prior to joining the wine industry, Sandra served small to mid-sized businesses as well as global corporations in the areas of CRM software, website design, online marketing, public relations, compliance management and workflow automation solutions.
  We have great attendance numbers already for #WMTC16 and look forward to seeing many exciting wineries, DMO’s, tourism agencies, tour operators and wine writers in Texas this coming November!  Have you registered yet?

Wine Country Videos Done the Right Way

wine-country-videoTelling your wine and wine destination stories with video will instantly delight, educate, entertain and capture the heart of your fans and followers.  Additionally, well executed video will deliver tourism opportunities by allowing travelers and wine lovers from around the world to see and follow your flavor in regards to your wines and your wine region.
On Wednesday, November 9th, #WMTC16 offers a session titled, Wine Country Videos: Learn what it takes to make an engaging video and how it can help define your brand and bring you more visitors. We’ll discuss everything from concept development to production to distribution.
Filmmaker Dina Mande from Juice Media will help guide you through the process of choosing when, where and how to create successful video content to engage your viewers, boost your social views and promote your brand.
Juice Media is a fantastic resource for the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference and Dina, being an experienced producer and presenter will be prepared to share some extremely valuable tips for wineries and wine destinations to get off the ground with wine country video production.
Dina Mande is a multidimensional director, editor and producer who lives to discover energetic visual stories that connect heart and mind. Mande has filmed interesting people, fantastic places, lush vineyards, and worked with leading wine brands and regions including The California Wine Institute, Napa Valley Vintners, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Silver Oak Cellars and J. Lohr Vineyards and Wine

As founder of Juice Media in Paso Robles, Mande has continued to expand her horizons, directing over 500 videos since 2010, winning 19 Addy Awards, a Telly award, and four top Wine Spectator Video Awards. She’s the director and co-creator behind the popular viral web series “Paso Wine Man,” which has become a cult phenomenon within the wine world.  With an unwavering love for telling bold, unforgettable stories, Mande continues to chase down inspiration, camera first.

 Have you registered for WMTC16 yet?  Pricing increases October 1st so reserve your spot at the early pricing today!