Thank You for a Fantastic 2015 Wine Tourism Conference

To all our partners, sponsors, presenters and friends….THANK YOU for a wonderful conference this year!

I will be posting a recap and some highlights of the conference, plus of course the available presentations after Thanksgiving week on our website and sending all attendees an email with access to those.

As we start to turn into the New Year, we will continue to plan out #WTC16 in Texas Hill Country! This is going to be an outstanding location and the conference will be packed full of some new and exciting content. I will post updates to our website starting with this years presentations and then in January 2016, we will open up a call for content to get some ideas and suggestions flowing from you all for the 2016 agenda. I loo forward to hearing some new ideas as I have a few of my own!

Make sure to subscribe to stay up to date on new developments. If you are and attendee, please request to join our Wine Tourism Conference Alumni Facebook group so you can get new information and connect with your friends!

Lastly, don’t forget to register EARLY!  This year we are offering a huge discount for those who get registered before December 31, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and thank you again for a great #WTC15

Wine Tourism Conference Heading to Texas in 2016!

We are extremely excited to announce the Wine Tourism Conference will be heading to Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country on November 8-10, 2016. Registration is open now. See below for early registration discounts.

The facts about the Texas wine industry and wine tourism are impressive:

  • Texas has 3,500 acres of vineyards and 350 bonded wineries according to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association (TWiGGA)
  • The Texas wine industry has a $1.9 billion annual impact a third of that is due to wine tourism
  • There are around 900,000 wine-related tourists in the state each year
  • Texas was recently selected as a Top Ten Wine Travel destination in the world by Wine Enthusiast Magazine
  • While neither Texans nor we think the comparison is apt, both Southern Living Magazine and CNN have called Texas “the next Napa”

What these bullet points don’t tell you is what I saw when I visited Texas Hill Country in September. The wine world there is simply rocking. The Texas Hill Country is nicely situated a couple hours from both Austin and San Antonio, giving it two huge bases for visitors but being far enough away to maintain a rural character. The small town of Fredericksburg, which will host our conference, is a cute town with tons to do and fits perfectly the need for a central hub to wine country. Most impressively, almost every winery I visited in the area not only served great wines but said they were full to the brim with wine tourists, barely able to keep up. It was truly impressive.

At the risk of gushing, which is not my nature, I can also say you will be amazed at the hospitality. Everyone I met warmly welcomed me to Texas and was truly excited about the Wine Tourism Conference coming to the area … even though it was still 14 months away. Check out this lineup of local partners and incredible events:

  • We are very proud and lucky to have Texas Hill Country Wineries, the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitors Center, the GoTexan program of the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association on board as local partners.
  • Woodrose Winery will be hosting everyone for lunch one day and Becker Vineyards is teaming with the local Frost Bank to host lunch a second day, giving us two opportunities to get out and see the area
  • In addition to two lunches, we have a fantastic dinner included at nearby Luckenbach Texas, where we’ll have dinner, wine tasting, and dancing to a local two-step band
  • We have optional dinners at an extra cost planned at William Chris Vineyards on the first night after the Expo and a visit to Fall Creek Vineyards and the legendary Salt Lick BBQ on Thursday night.
  • There is plenty to do in the local area and we are offering great excursions and activities for spouses and families, including a tour of LBJ’s ranch, hiking in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a visit of Wildseed Farms, plus winery visits and shopping in Fredericksburg. See the Events page for all the events and activities.
  • In addition, we’ll have the normal excellent content including pre-conference workshops on Tuesday, breakout sessions, and a keynote speaker.

We are offering a significant discount for our early registrants.  Get your name in the hat for WTC Texas before 2016 and save:

  • $295: Through December 31, 2015
  • $325: Through April 30, 2016
  • $350: Through September 30, 2016
  • $395: After September 30, 2016

Having been there recently, I very much believe you will be impressed with Texas hospitality, the Hill Country Wine area, and the wine tourism boom that is happening in the Fredericksburg area. I hope you can join us and we’ll get to work on creating excellent content soon! WTC16 Registration

Wine Tourism Conference | Day 1 Morning Review

The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference is off and running on a fantastic morning with our speaking and panel sessions. This year brings a diverse crowd of attendees and topics digging in to the root of wine tourism and it’s potential.

Spanning topics from global influences on the wine industry and tourism, to marketing and operations performance, Wine Tourism is pushing forward in a positive way. The basics have been covered and this year’s group is forging ahead to learn more and more on how to promote the most FUN form of tourism around.  A big thank you to our partners, presenters and attendees for gathering at Landsdown Resort today (and tomorrow) to synergize learning and knowledge amongst some fantastic folks!

Today’s agenda is packed full of great content and activities. Looking forward to our lunch excursion hosted at Stone Tower Winery with transportation sponsored by Reston Limousine and lunch is sponsored by Loudoun Virginia Economic Development.

After our afternoon breakout sessions, we will have a conference dinner at the resort where our attendees can sip on a variety of Virginia’s finest wines in the Lansdowne Ballroom and meet Virginia winemakers before enjoying a three-course dinner featuring Loudoun’s award winning wines. Sponsored by Virginia Tourism Corporation, The Virginia Wine Marketing Office, and the Loudoun Wineries Association.

Got Wine on Your Mind This Evening? The #WTC15 Registration, Expo and Wine Tasting is Open for Conference Attendees Tonight

Make sure to come by this evening and enjoy some fun, great wines and meet new friends at #WTC15 in the Terrace Ballroom. We are excited to have some awesome sponsors and attendees here and looking forward to starting our full blown conference tomorrow.

Our Wine Tourism Expo & Opening Night Wine Reception is going to be a great time to check in to the conference.   Enjoy the Wine Tourism Expo and opening reception presented by Touring & Tasting Marketing and Media.  Meet all our sponsors and enjoy wines from across North America and the world.  This is a unique opportunity to try wines from New Jersey, Texas, and Michigan as well as West Coast favorites, East Coast standouts, and wines from other countries.

We will have tables where people are pouring wine and other folks there to share knowledge and information.  We also have a few tourism boards on hand with their partner wineries.

Make sure to stop by to meet and taste with our main conference sponsor, Visit Loudoun who will be pouring an “epicurience blend”, an award-winning collaborative wine with Bluemont Vineyards, Tarara Winery, and Breaux Vineyards

Make sure to check out some of our other sponsors and associations below!

Virginia Wine Marketing

Fauquier County Department of Economic Development

Garden State Growers

Glass House Winery

Oregon Wine Board

Ontario’s South Coast Wineries and Growers Association

Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association

Monticella Wine Trail

Visit South Jersey

Slovenian Wine Tourism Association

Norfolk County Tourism and Economic Development

Visit Santa Ynez

Wine Tours Toronto Inc.

Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail

Colorado Wine Industry Development Board

Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Reston Limo

Chatterbox Wine Marketing

Sacramento International Airport

Kentucky Grape & Wine Council

Wine Buzz



Sneak Peek! The 2015 Wine Tourism Conference is Officially in Full Swing!


Our pre-conference workshops are kicked off with intensive sessions going on this morning including Digital Marketing for the Wine Industry and Beer Tourism with a panel featuring some of the leaders in the beer industry.

Here is a sneak peek into our presentations today:

Digital Marketing for Wine Tourism

Kicking off this workshop is wine industry expert Gary Nealon of Wine Trail Adventures, whose specific expertise is using digital marketing to increase sales. His presentation was packed full of great tactics an tips to increase traffic and promote your brand with a bang! Also speaking this morning is Nicole Skuba of BlueTreeDigital showing us great information on branding, representing your company and products plus valuable information on SEO and how to properly publish content to maximize rankings.

Follow Wine Trail Adventures and Blue Tree Digital  on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about their companies and expertise!

Wine Trail Adventures  Wine Trail Adventures FB

Blue Tree Digital  Blue Tree Digital FB

Beer Tourism

Our other workshop this morning is a Beer Tourism panel discussing 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. The panel is comprised of the following experts (links to their Facebook pages are below):

Mariah Calagione from Dogfish Head brewery;

Virginia Brewers Guild Tourism & Marketing Committee Co-Chair

Kevin O’Connor from O’Connor Brewing;

Margo Knight Metzger, Executive Director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, and

Tommy Miller of Richmond Brewery Tours.

Make sure to stick with us this afternoon for 3 workshops offered and then of course our Wine Expo at 5pm in the Terrace Ballroom.

Thank to Lansdown Resort and of course to our experts for getting WTC15 kicked off today!

Stay tuned for more updates here or follow us on Twitter to see up to the moment happenings!

Maryland Wine – a contributing post from our partners at the Maryland Wine Association

A big THANK YOU to our sponsors over at the Maryland Wineries Association for writing a contributing blog post for #WTC15.  We look forward to meeting all the great wineries and tourism associations who promote and support their local wines in just a few weeks!

MARYLAND WINE – Written by the Maryland Wineries Association

Welcome to the world of Maryland Wine! Maryland has over 75 wineries producing 400+ award-winning wines in every style.

Red wine drinkers will love our Bordeaux varieties—such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec­—plus, Syrah, Chambourcin, Pinot Noir, our many Meritage blends and beyond.

The state’s white wine offerings are extensive, spanning all styles…from crisp to rich to off-dry. Enjoy Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, Albariño, Vidal Blanc, Seyval, Viognier and Traminette, to name just a few. Find anything from fine aged port, late-harvest to fruit wines, sparkling, ciders, and more…truly something for all palates.

Tour our wine country to experience Maryland’s fine territory and learn why so many locals ask for Maryland Wine.

Maryland Wine is….

Historic. The “Father of American Viticulture,” John Adlum is recognized for starting the cultivation of wine in our region in 1798.  John Adlum began harvesting grapes in Havre de Grace and shared his love of wine and viticulture with Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.  Adlum and Jefferson connected over a shared dedication to vine cultivation and continued the friendship throughout the span of their careers, as well as sharing wines and vineyard tips.

While viticulture was introduced to the Maryland area during the colonial times, Maryland winemaking as an art took off after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, at the end of Prohibition, specifically with the vines planted by Baltimore’s Evening Sun editor Philip Wagner at Boordy Vineyards in 1945.  As the industry grew, so did the varietals and types of wines created.  The traditions of meads and fruit wines grew with the success of Linganore Winecellars, and Ham Mowbray introduced French traditional varietals as well as creating the first American ice wine!

Authentic. We are a craft industry; the titles “winemaker” and “chief glass-washer” are often interchangeable.  When visiting, there is a good chance that you will meet the families responsible for the award-winning wine in your glass.

Local. Great win can be found throughout the world, and the wines of Maryland are no exception.  Our wines are being highlighted in competitions, restaurant wine lists and national publications.  Wineries source grapes, fruit and honey from growers throughout the state and region, and many grow their own on acres of estate vineyards.  If it says “Maryland” on the label, it’s home-grown.

Superb. Check to see the many commendations awarded to our wines from the Governor’s Cup Competition, Winemasters Choice Awards and national and international competitions.

Come meet the folks at Maryland Wine Association and lots of other great wine promoting partners at the 2016 Wine Tourism Conference in Leesburg Loudoun County, VA November 18-20.  Also be sure to check out our informative pre-con workshops on Wednesday November 17th


7 Not-to-Miss Experiences at the WTC in Loudoun County, VA

Untitled design

If you have already registered for the Wine Tourism Conference 2015 then good for you!!  Check out the blog post below from our partners and Loudoun experts at @VisitLoudoun to get some insider info on what will make your visit to the WTC15 conference even better!  Of course, if you have not yet registered….then you need to hop to it and get in the groove of what is going to be a great learning opportunity and loads of fun!

  1. Virginia Vino Veritas

With more than 250 wineries throughout the state, Virginia is the fifth largest wine region in the country and with over 40 wineries in Loudoun, the Wine Tourism Conference is the perfect place to experience Virginia wine. During the conference you’ll have the chance to taste Loudoun and Virginia wine and visit one of Loudoun’s largest wineries, Stone Tower, which is just outside Leesburg and recently opened a new tasting room overlooking the mountains. While in town, be sure to try some of our famous Virginia varietals like Viognier or Norton.

  1. Take a ride on the LoCo Ale Trail

Virginians have been producing wine for over 400 years but now the craft beer scene is making waves across the state. Loudoun is home to 15 craft breweries and the new LoCo Ale Trail . Take a break from vino while in town to sample small batch, hand-crafted local brews and learn more about the industry during the Craft Beer Marketing workshop.

  1. Lessons from Around the Globe

Throughout the Wine Tourism Conference, learn from wine professionals from around the world, including Australia, China and Spain. Attend the Keynote Address to hear Sally Cope share her success story as the Executive Officer of Ultimate Winery Experiences working with Tourism Australia. Learn about China’s interest in wine tourism from President and Chairman of California-China Wine Trading, Christopher Beros and about the successes and challenges of wine tourism in Chile, Spain, Portugal, and even Slovenia.

  1. Sneak peek of Loudoun and Virginia Wine Country

Kick off the Wine Tourism Conference at some of Loudoun’s boutique wineries! Register for the pre-conference winery tour to meet winemakers crafting award-winning wines and enjoy vintage Virginia views of vineyards set amidst rolling hills and scenic vistas at Fabbioli Cellars, Winery 32 and Tarara Winery.

  1. Dine like a local

From farm-to-table and gourmet meals to hometown eats and local hotspots, Loudoun’s culinary scene offers something unique. Our Local Favorites list features popular barbecue, burger and pizza joints and our Destination Restaurant program highlights locally grown products and unique experiences that range from eating in a restored mill to dining under the stars in a glass conservatory on a farm. In addition, the conference includes two lunches and one dinner and we have an optional dinner on Friday evening.

  1. Channeling Loudoun spirits

Loudoun isn’t just for wine and beer lovers, there are a growing number of cideries and distilleries that now call it home. Enjoy internationally recognized spirits at Catoctin Creek Distillery, which is powered by solar panels and is Loudoun’s first distillery since prohibition, or visit Virginia’s smallest ABC store at Mt. Defiance Distillery in Middleburg, the heart of Virginia hunt country.

  1. It’s more than collecting cards

The main reason for having a Wine Tourism Conference is for those in the industry to learn and grow together as wine and marketing professionals. Attending this conference gives you the opportunity to learn about digital marketing, management, agricultural tourism, technology and so much more. Don’t miss this opportunity to network with winemakers, tasting room staff and tourism professionals at the beautiful Lansdowne Resort. You’ll learn just as much outside of the sessions as you will in the classroom!

For more information on Loudoun, visit We look forward to welcoming you in a few weeks!

WTC is coming in HOT in just a few weeks!

Get ready for WTC2015 in Loudoun County, Virginia where the wine flows like…..well rich and tasty Virginia wine!

This year’s conference is packed with solid content that any winery or brewery should be in the know on. Hosted at the beautiful Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA, WTC15 will host a set of pre-conference workshops on Wednesday before kicking off the full conference agenda on Thursday November 18th. The Wednesday workshops can be attended a’la carte without the need to attend the entire conference and are full of great topics.

Note to our friends and readers…please share with your friends in the Wine industry. Why? The Wine Tourism Conference is a unique event dedicated to helping those in the wine and beer industry promote their business. WTC is coming to East Cost for the first time, as there are fantastic winery and brewery partners with a huge amount of potential growth to capture a healthy tourism stream.

A quick overview of some of the topics I am most looking forward to hearing are:

China – Wine and Wine Tourism – The Chinese market has an undeniable potential. Learn about this dynamic market and find out how to capture new visitors to your wines and brews.

Promoting Your Wine Tourism Business Beyond Your Region – This is a huge part of making your mark in the wine and beer industry. Find out how to expand beyond your region and find ways to get enthusiasts to visit your winery and taste your creations!

Customer Relationship Management – Effective Email Marketing – A big part of getting new interest in your product is keeping those people interested. Find out how to manage your customer relationships appropriately for your business and retain those customers!

 That is just a small flicker of the valuable knowledge that will be passed around on November 17-20th

What are you waiting for? Come for a workshop or come for the whole 3 days and hang with some great folks for the entire conference. Leesburg is gorgeous, easy to get to and WTC15 is sure to be a valuable and fun conference. Don’t miss out on some excellent information and networking opportunities and get an advantage on the coming year!

See the agenda here

Register today and come join in the fun!

China – Wine and Wine Tourism

On November 19 at this year’s Wine Tourism Conference we will have a panel on “China – Wine and Wine Tourism”.

The swirling rumors around China’s wine industry have been circulating for years, with the perceived threat to the world wine market if China is able to produce masses of high quality wine at a low price, in the same way they have affected the consumer goods market. We’ll learn about China’s domestic wine production during this panel.

We’ll also learn about opportunities for exporting wine to China. China is obviously a huge market but did you know China is now the number one consuming nation of red wine, surpassing France and Italy? China’s consumption has been growing incredibly quickly as good wine becomes popular. And with per capita consumption less than two liters per person, the Chinese market will likely continue to quickly expand.

Hitting to the heart of wine tourism, we’ll also discuss how Chinese overseas tourism is booming with wine tourism a particularly strong element of that. In recent years, the Chinese have loosened visa restrictions on their own citizens. Combined with the positive view Chinese have of the US and the surging popularity of wine, US wineries have a huge potential influx of visitors coming their way. We’ll learn about what Chinese wine tourists are seeking and how to accommodate them.

California is leading the charge for the US in terms of exporting wine to China and accommodating Chinese wine tourists. The panel will consist of these four experts in connecting China to California’s wine industry:

  • Christopher Beros, President and Chairman of California-China Wine Trading, Inc.
  • Brian Wright, in charge of DMO & Executive Relations at Visit California
  • Linsey Gallagher, Vice President, International Marketing for the Wine Institute
  • Steve Burns, owner of O’Donnell Lane L.L.C., a marketing, public relations and strategic planning firm.

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.