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 – CURRENT STATE OF WINE TOURISM – Breakout Session + Friday, November 20 – CHINA & INDIA – WINE AND WINE TOURISM – Breakout Session China and India 

Barbara Insel

Barbara Insel is the Owner of Stonebridge Research, a fact-based advisory firm to the wine industry. Barbara was previously Managing Director of MKF Research LLC, having built that organization to a widely respected advisor on all phases of the wine business. She is a member of the Planning Committee (and marketing co-chair) for the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium and the Steering Committee for 40th Anniversary of the Napa Agricultural Preserve.

 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, 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:

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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!

2015 Wine Tourism Conference in Virginia Lauded by the Governor’s Office

recent article in the Washington Post highlights how excited Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is regarding the announcement of the location of the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference:  Loudoun County, Virginia.   The annual Wine Tourism Conference is held in a different wine region every year and the 2015 conference represents the first time the WTC will be on the East Coast.  Happening November 18-20, 2015 in Leesburg, Virginia, Governor McAuliffe lauds the Wine Tourism Conference as

…an exciting opportunity to showcase our award-winning wines and world-class wine industry.

The Governor and local tourism officials hail the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference as a “milestone in the ascent of Virginia’s wine industry” and “speaks to the importance of what’s happening here in Loudoun County and throughout the entire commonwealth,” relays Beth Erickson, president of Visit Loudoun, the county’s tourism association.

Virginia’s wine industry and wine tourism is increasingly important to the state’s tourism, as a whole, and the economy.

Some Facts About Virginia’s Wine Industry

- Virginia has more than 250 wineries, ranking fifth in the nation in number

– Virginia’s wine industry contributes nearly $750 million to the state economy annually

– More than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries last year, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation

Appealing to wineries, wine & tourism association, wine destination marketing organizers, media and wine tour operators, the annual Wine Tourism Conference provides hard information abou the important and growing industry of wine tourism and provides a forum for leaders in the wine tourism industry.  Wine tour operators represent a significant number of WTC attendees.  Visit Loudoun’s Beth Erickson relays their county is especially excited about showcasing their wine region and seeing more wine tour businesses operate in Loudoun County:

We have local companies that do tours, but now there are tour operators that are currently running tours in Sonoma or in the Finger Lakes, and they are most excited about coming to see the tours that they can start running in Loudoun County.”

Zephyr Adventures, the organizer of the Wine Tourism Conference, is thrilled by the warm, Virginia reception.  Thank you, Governor McAuliffe and Visit Loudoun for your enthusiasm regarding the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference!




Wine Tourism Conference Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how much is a video worth?  According to a Huffington Post article earlier this year, “a moving picture is worth a million people.” And thanks to Dina Mande of Juice Media, a production and creative agency that specializes in wine country videos, the Wine Tourism Conference now has a video that captures the essence of the annual Wine Tourism Conference.

Please enjoy this video, shot at the 2014 WTC in Paso Robles, CA.



Thanks to all 2014 WTC Friends and Sponsors

A hearty Thank You to all 2014 Wine Tourism Conference friends and sponsors.  The Wine Tourism Conference aims to bring wine and tourism leaders together every year in an exciting wine location.  We wouldn’t have been able to all gather in San Luis Obispo County in beautiful Paso Robles this November 12-14, 2014 without the help of the following friends and sponsors of the WTC.

2014 ELITE Sponsors









2014 GRAND Sponsors


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Paso Wine

Wine Industry Network




2014 Event Sponsor


     Sacramento International Airport

Wine Tourism Conference Headed to Loudoun County, Virginia

The fifth Wine Tourism Conference will head for the first time to the East Coast, to take place November 18-20 in Leesburg, Loudoun County. Registration for WTC15 is now open.

We have been working for months with Visit Loudoun County to determine details of the conference and here are a few things you can expect:

  • Awesome accommodations and conference facilities at the Lansdowne Resort, a AAA Four Diamond-rated property that is one of the few full-service resorts in the Washington DC area.
  • An excellent room rate of $169 which includes the $22 resort fee
  • Easy access and half priced shuttle service from Dulles Airport, only 20 minutes away.
  • Two lunches included in the conference registration.
  • The annual Wines of North America reception and a reception with Virginia wines.
  • An optional dinner in wine country at a nearby winery.

We will be putting out a Call for Content in early 2015 – add your name to the Stay Up To Date box on this site to be kept informed.

We hope you decide to join us!