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!

The 2014 Wine Tourism Conference Kick Off

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The 2014 Wine Tourism Conference opened up with a bang yesterday in beautiful Paso Robles.  While much of the rest of the country endured cold temperatures (and snow in many parts!), the WTC14 Conference Opening was met with mild weather (no jackets required!), great wine industry company, and an engaging, warm welcome from the local experts in tourism – Visit San Luis Obispo County and Travel Paso Robles Alliance.  We really felt welcomed by everyone here in San Luis Obispo County and the sophisticated, laid back wine hamlet of Paso Robles!

The Business of Wine Tourism session followed with perspectives from Paul Mabray of Vintank, a social intelligence firm, Don House of IDMG, an international culinary marketing, content, and event planning firm,  Christine Bohle of Eventbrite, an online ticketing service and Michael Kaiser of Wine America, the National Association of American Wineries.  All experts generously shared their knowledge of how to foster exemplary marketing and business connections in the worlds of wine and tourism – there were many takeaways from this session that tour operators, wine associations, regional marketing alliances, wineries, and wine businesses can utilize to benefit their tourism numbers and visibility.

The Thursday afternoon Breakout Sessions offered up the opportunity to learn about tourism from a number of different perspectives.  Sessions included:  Beer Tourism: Lessons for the Wine Industry; Working with Local Wine Tour Operators; Facebook for the Wine Industry; The Reality of Tasting Room Merchandising.

The Paso Robles Winery Alliance Reception in the Grand Ballroom offered guests the opportunity to taste the diversity of the wine region surrounding Paso Robles.  Almost 30 wineries were represented at the tasting.  The authenticity of the wines and the people behind the wines is extraordinarily impressive – there’s a reason why #PasoWine country was voted as the 2013 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast!

The optional wine-pairing dinner at Second Press Wine Bar & Eatery in downtown Paso Robles was a culinary success.  The lamb chops and full bodied Paso Robles wines were awesome and the wine tourism camaraderie even better.

We look forward to all the content, Keynote by Alan Kropf, and announcement of the location for the 2015 WTC at the conference today!

Supporting California Wine Tourism – the Wine Institute’s New Consumer Websites

The Wine Tourism Conference recently had the opportunity to interview Nancy Light, Vice President of Communications for the Wine Institute.  The Wine Institute has been a friend and supporter of the Wine Tourism Conference from the beginning and we appreciate their Grand Partner sponsorship of the 2014 Wine Tourism Conference November 12-14, 2014 in Paso Robles.

The Wine Institute serves as “the voice” for California wine – the Institute represents more than 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses throughout the State as the largest advocacy and public policy association for California wine.  Additionally, it is the only group representing the industry at the state, federal, and international levels.

This fall, the Wine Institute translated and localized their consumer website, DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com for 10 key markets and in 7 languages.  The new websites were created for these top export markets for California wines:

  • the European Union’s 28-member countries
  • Canadaimgres-1
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • Mexico
  • South Korea


 Interview with Nancy Light of the Wine Institute

Q1:  What were the drivers behind creating the country specific versions of the consumer website?  What are your goals in broadcasting this website to these specific countries?

Our goal is to continue to forge a strong connection between our iconic and aspirational California destination with our world-class wine-producing region.  We also want to offer a locally relevant and resonant platform to our consumers, media and trade in key wine export markets throughout the world.  Both our newly translated websites and our social media campaign (primarily Facebook pages localized for 15 countries throughout the world) help us to engage with our audience on a global and local level in the digital space.  We communicate about the quality, diversity and value of our California wines at all price points, and our new websites help us to bring these concepts to life in an educational, fun and informative way.  These new tools will help consumers from afar learn about and enjoy our wines in their home countries, and, hopefully, inspire them to visit to experience our wine country for them.  We have set records in our California wine exports for four consecutive years now (from 2010 – 2013), so clearly consumers from around the world are enjoying more California wines and also traveling more here to California.

Q2 = How do you think this website can be used effectively by CA wineries to encourage tourism to their wineries?  How do you think this website can be used effectively by CA wine associations to encourage tourism to their regions? Do you have suggestions for the wineries and associations to work collaboratively in using this website as a tourism resource?

The sites are engaging and educational, using our broad statewide platform as an umbrella over what the regional wine and tourism associations and individual wineries are communicating.  International consumers, media and trade are looking for a California message first, to set the context, followed by a regional or brand/winery message.  Our hope is that these new sites will help to educate, engage and endear our California wine consumers throughout the world.  Wineries who are members of our export program can also post their events happening in markets around the world on our events calendar at http://www.discovercaliforniawines.com/event-submission/

 Q3 = How does the Wine Tourism Conference meet the needs of the growing wine tourism sector?  What do you look forward every year at the annual WTC?

The Wine Tourism Conference provides insight and tools for engaging beyond the business of making and selling wine. Wineries are unique in that they are able to welcome their customers into their premises and invite them to become part of the winery “family” and brand ambassadors.  I personally look forward to hearing about best practices from experts in other areas of wine tourism and interacting with attendees.

Q4 = what wine tourism trends do you anticipate seeing in the CA wine market the remainder of 2014 and in 2015? Are CA wine tourists looking for something new or different?

We see continued growth in wine tourism throughout all of California’s diverse regions.  More and more regions are developing services and amenities to attract tourists – from restaurants and hotels to outdoor adventure.  CA wine tourists vary in their needs like any other tourism consumer. The difference is, wineries continue to generate business after the visit.  In wine, there are the locals who want to be recognized with special treatment when they visit or bring guests, the luxury wine travelers who want customized options for enjoying gourmet, high-end experiences and those, often younger consumers, who want some fun and engagement with their wine.  Still, nothing beats the experience of walking into a winery and meeting the owner or winemaker.  With China expected to become the number one source of tourists to California in the near future, wineries doing business there should consider offering tastings and tours in Mandarin.


Thank you, Nancy, and the Wine Institute for taking the time to flush out the new program with DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com!  We look forward to discovering new wines, meeting new people, and networking with the attendees of the upcoming Wine Tourism Conference in #PasoWine country this week!