Learn How To Create Great Events to Bring in Big Numbers at WMTC16


Creating Engaging Activities & Events: Events are one of the major drivers of visitors to wineries and to wine country.  Expert Beth Costa from Wine Road will be presenting to attendees about creating interesting themes, executing effective planning, ensuring financial success, and what works and more importantly what does NOT work when designing wine country events.

Beth Costa is the Executive Director of Wine Road, an association of 197 wineries and 54 lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys of Northern Sonoma County. Wine Road is famous for its many events, including three large annual celebrations including many of the area winery. Beth previously worked for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates as the Tasting Room manager of multiple properties. WMTC asked Beth Costa to tell us a little more about herself and her presentation details to give some insight.


“I have been living and learning how to manage large industry wide and winery events for the past 16 years.  My, how times have changed!  Sixteen years ago it was work to simply get the word out that you were hosting an event. Printing stacks of postcards, collecting mailing addresses, lots of busy work.

We no longer see a need to print and mail postcards; it’s easy to get the word out. Now the issue is how to price an event so the right amount of people attend and buy wine. You need to create an event where the attendees make connections with the winery or wineries so they want to come back and support those wineries in the future.

I imagine every speaker at the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will touch upon on how today’s consumer wants an “experience” not just another belly-up-to-the-bar tasting.  This is true for every winery event. As an association representing 200 wineries the challenge for us is creating experiences that work for so many players.

In Sonoma County, California we are also in the midst of a heated debate between residents, wineries and the county planning department.  Issues on the table are how many events are too many, along with how to better manage the flow and the concentration in rural areas.  If this debate is not currently happening in your neck of the woods…believe me, it will. 

In this session I will share what we have learned during this wild and crazy year of celebrating our 40th Anniversary of Wine Road, with a different event every month. What were we thinking??!?

This was a year of learning and I look forward to sharing my experiences, successes, and sometimes failures with this year’s Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference attendees.”


Interested in improving your event planning and execution?  Register for WMTC here.

Tour Operator Best Practices in the Wine, Beer, and Food Industries

miami-culinary-toursDid you know there are at least 235 wine tour companies in the United States? And at least 400 worldwide?

Have you noticed that every major US city now has both a beer tour company and a food tour company taking locals and visitors alike on scrumptious tours of area breweries and restaurants?

Food and drink tourism is not new but the prevalence of tour companies has expanded greatly in recent years as the food and beer worlds have caught up with what has been standard practice in wine regions for years. It is now possible to visit most any major city to take a day culinary tour or to spend your vacation time and dollars visiting the world’s best regions for beer, wine, and food.

From 1:00 – 4:00 PM on Tuesday, November 8th we are pleased to present a Pre-Conference Workshop on Tour Operator Best Practices. If you are running a food or drink tour business or interested to start one, this is an event you do not want to miss.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Selecting a niche
  • Identifying your target market
  • Insurance
  • Employees and Guides
  • Pricing
  • Selecting tour locations
  • Running great tours
  • Marketing
  • Soliciting feedback

This workshop is more than just a presentation. Everyone in the room will likely have information to contribute and this will be as much round table discussion as presentation. Nevertheless, we have three great presenters:

  • Allan Wright (me), 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)
  • Miguel Lecuona, who operates a Texas wine industry consulting business and drew up the tour operator agreements for the popular Wine Road 290
  • Andy Potter, owner and operator of Austin Eats Food Tours who is also speaking at this year’s Global Food Tour Owners Conference

If you are a food or drink tour operator, eager to start one, or interested to learn more about this for your region, please join us! Please note there is an extra cost for the workshop of $125 and you need not be registered for the conference to attend.

Photo courtesy of Miami Culinary Tours.

Modern Day PR For The Wine Industry

On Thursday, November 10, WMTC16 will offer a session on Modern Day PR.  The importance of public relations and media coverage to drive business has not changed but getting that coverage is trickier than ever.  We can’t survive on Facebook posts alone to garner interest in our wineries, tour companies, and wine destinations but getting your press in front of the right outlets is not always easy.  The key to doing PR right is getting tips from the experts and we are thrilled to have Paul Wagner, founder of Balzac Communications, presenting on Modern Day PR to attendees.

WMTC asked Paul for a little background on his journey through the ever changing landscape of the PR world and what attendees can plan to gain though attending his session.


“When I first started working in wine and tourism public relations, a generation ago, there was a classic description of the perfect public relations director.  She would be cute, blond, and perky.  Her career often started out in the retail store, tasting room, or as a personal assistant, and then grew to include local tastings, major festivals, and the organization of company events.  And that was the job.

Well, I am not cute, I am not blond, and I am very rarely perky, but after many years of working in public relations for small wineries, breweries and olive companies and cheesemakers, I think I know what it takes to be successful.

It turns out that being blond is not really that important.

Over the past twenty-five years, food and wine-related brand marketing programs have evolved from a few shelf-talkers and table tents to huge sponsorships of everything from the Academy Awards and NASCAR to breast cancer research and public television – from newspaper and radio to social media and mobile apps.

And public relations campaigns have gone from private invitations to a few key writers to massive national campaigns.  It used to be that a nice press kit and a smiling face could usually get you some coverage.  Now we see celebrity chefs, podcasts, and concert tour logistics have all become part of the package.

While individual producers are often still small, artisan food and wine has become big business, and public relations programs have grown up alongside the industry.

But for most smaller producers, the challenges still remain—as they do for all small businesses.  They don’t have the dollars to compete on a national scale, and their only hope for success in the world of public relations is to be more costs effective, more targeted, and smarter than their competition.

Cute, blond, and perky?  Nope.  Try smart, effective, and focused.

Making sure that’s how you approach your public relations effort is what this session is all about.”


This is sure to be a valuable session for anyone looking to navigate the world of public relations better!
Bio for Paul Wagner:

1 paulwagner1 12 11 (3)Paul Wagner studied sociology and education at U. C. Santa Cruz and classical guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Seville, Spain.

After several positions in Public Relations and Marketing in the wine industry in Napa Valley, Mr. Wagner formed Balzac Communications & Marketing on April 1, 1991.  Current clients include Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, Wagner Family of Wines, Wente Vineyards, Mendocino Wine Company, Simply Italian, Sogevinus of Portugal, Bodegas Salentein, Villa Trasqua, Miner Wines, Rioja Alavesa, and a host of other wine and food specialists.

He has been an instructor for Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Enology department for the past twenty-one years.  In addition he teaches at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, is a guest lecturer at many universities and has spoken at more than eighty conferences throughout the world on wine business, communications, wine tourism, public affairs, wine, and wine marketing.

With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, he authored a book:  Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market by The Wine Appreciation Guild, which won the Gourmand International Award in 2008 for the best wine book of the year for professionals. A second edition of that work was published in 2011, and a third edition is underway.  He was a columnist for Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine for ten years, contributes to Allexperts.com in the field of wine and food, and served on the board of directors of the Society of Wine Educators for many years.  With Rick Kushman of Capital Public Radio, he hosts “Bottle Talk” at http://www.rickandpaulwine.com/  a weekly conversation about wine.

Paul Wagner has judged many international wine competitions, is a founding member of the Academy of Wine Communications, a member of the nominations committee of the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Spadarini della Castellania di Soave in 2005.  In 2009 he was honored with a “Life Dedicated to Wine” award at the Feria Nacional del Vino (FENAVIN) in Spain.

Don’t miss out!  Register for WMTC today!

Welcome to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country

Welcome to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill CountryThe first presentation at the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference (after the pre-con Workshops and official welcome) will be a Welcome to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country. By moving the conference to a new wine region each year, those visiting from out of state learn about that local region and including the specific challenges they face and successes they have achieved. In 2016, we are especially looking forward to hearing from the local area as Texas is booming in wine tourism and yet relatively unknown outside the area.

We have a great panel (see below) including a winery owner, grape grower, and tourism agency director. Our moderator is January Wiese, Executive Director of Texas Hill Country Wineries, the association that represents the member wineries of the Texas Hill Country region. As a long-time WMTC attendee and Advisory Board member, January assures us the panel will be highly interesting and educational for the audience, revealing the both the successes and challenges of wine tourism in Texas!

Chris Brundrett, co-founder of William Chris Wines, has established a career in the Hill Country as one of the state’s fastest rising young winegrowers. While earning a horticulture degree from Texas A&M, Chris spent time in the Hill Country, acquiring experience in the winery and the vineyard. He then quickly proceeded to take on head winemaking responsibilities for several wine labels, managing vineyard properties in both the Hill Country and the High Plains. In 2010, he planted the Brundrett Family Estate vineyard with his father Bruce in San Angelo, which will produce winegrapes exclusively for William Chris.

Andy Timmons of Lost Draw Cellars is a 4th generation farmer who grows cotton, peanuts, and wine grapes. He established his first vineyard in 2006 and now owns and manages over 500 acres of grapes in the Texas High Plains AVA. One of the winegrowing pioneers of Terry County, Andy is committed to producing quality Texas grapes on a consistent basis. Working with some of the best wineries in the state, Lost Draw Vineyards has won several awards including gold medals at the San Francisco, Dallas Morning News, and the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition. In 2014, Andy was awarded the T.V. Munson Award from the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, which recognizes exemplary contribution to Texas grape growing.

Ernie Loeffler is President and CEO of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau, which markets Fredericksburg and Gillespie County as a premier travel destination on the regional, national and international stages. Fredericksburg has many things to offer visitors, including its fascinating German history, but promoting the local food and wine is a major mission of the organization.
Needless to say, we have an excellent agenda and experts lined up for #WMTC16….get registered today!

New Sister Conference: Beer Marketing & Tourism

BMTC website

Zephyr Conferences is proud to announce our newest conference, the Beer Marketing & Tourism Conference. The conference will take place March 28-30, 2017 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Yes, this is a conference very similar to our Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference. We are now in our sixth year of running the WMTC so the new beer version is a bit later to the scene. But that is as you would expect; beer tourism itself is just now becoming established.

As a member of the wine industry, you are undoubtedly familiar with the raging craft beer industry. Here are some details for you.

  • The craft beer revolution is booming. Craft beer sales by volume in the US were up 12.8% in 2015 on top of 18% growth in 2014.
  • Don’t think the craft beer revolution has peaked. Craft beer represents only 12.2% of the US beer market and it continues to take market share from the big brewers.
  • There are now over 4,400 licensed breweries in the US. More get added almost every single day.
  • With increasing numbers of breweries, competition for tap room visitors and retail shelf space is becoming tougher. It is because of this that beer marketing is now of strategic importance.
  • Beer tourism is just now becoming established, with two dozen vacation tour operators and day beer tour companies in most major US cities.

And here are some interesting things to consider when comparing beer to wine:

  • Breweries are generally not tied to their raw materials and thus can be located anywhere. Every city can have breweries and anywhere can be “beer country”. This is more similar to the “urban winery” model, which is only a small part of the wine industry.
  • Breweries are divided into categories: brewpubs, microbreweries (small), regional craft breweries (a bit bigger), regional breweries (the biggest craft brewers), and large breweries (the big boys). Of these, the first two, which make up the vast majority of breweries, often sell all or nearly all their beer from their own premises. Hence, “beer tourism” and tap room sales are just as important to the beer industry as are wine tourism and tasting room sales to the wine industry.
  • An interesting difference is that brewery tap rooms are set up more like bars, focused on consumption on premises. Yes, many breweries allowing tasting and some sell beer to go (in “growlers”). This comers to wineries where tasting rooms are primarily set up to induce to go purchases rather than on-premise consumption.
  • “Beer clubs” are not yet very established at all (in part because of greater shipping difficulties), as compared to the prominent position of wine clubs in winery marketing and sales

We at Zephyr are already quite involved with beer tourism. We run beer tours with our Taste Vacations tour company and active beer tours with Zephyr Adventures. We ran workshops on beer tourism and beer marketing last November at the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference in Virginia to test the concept.

We are excited to add this new conference to our Zephyr Conferences schedule. Come join us if you have an interest in cross-pollinating!

Stacie Jacob to Lead Wine Association and DMO Workshop and Summit

We are very pleased to have expert Stacie Jacob lead our scheduled three-hour Winery Association and Tourism Promotion Agency Workshop and Summit.

Stacie JacobStacie has outstanding experience on both the winery association and tourism agency (including Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Destination Management Organizations, etc) side.

  • Served as the first-ever Public Relations Director for the Washington Wine Commission
  • Spent seven years as the Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, one of the nation’s leading wine regions
  • Worked as Chief Executive Officer of Visit San Luis Obispo County, the county that includes Paso Robles but also has tourism assets including the Pacific Coast and Hearst Castle
  • Currently runs her own consulting firm, Solterra Strategies, which offers public relations, brand strategy, and marketing services

Stacie is probably one of the few wine industry leaders who has served as a chief executive of both a DMO and a winery association and thus is eminently qualified to run this workshop. The workshop will include real-life best-practice examples in the following areas:

  • Big-picture strategies for associations and DMOs in wine regions to help you decide where you should be headed as an organization
  • Possibilities for establishing significant and sustainable funding including major events and new tax or public-private funding arrangements
  • Ideas for collaborating with key partners including local businesses, other agencies, and even organizations outside the area.
  • Discussion of the nuts and bolts of managing an organization including staffing, premises, working with members, promoting outside the area, and much more.

This workshop is actually a “workshop and summit”. Stacie will be in communication in advance with those people registered to gather ideas, case studies, and best practices. We will also spend the final hour in discussion where all participants will be able to ask questions of and share ideas with their peers.

If you are a leader of a winery association or tourism promotion agency in wine country, this workshop is for you! You need not be registered for the conference to attend.

Which International Wine Regions Will Step Up Next?

The Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference is not just for those of us in North America.

At last year’s conference we had Sally Cope, Executive Officer of Ultimate Winery Experiences in Australia, as our keynote speaker. We also had an excellent session called International Perspectives on Wine Tourism in which representatives from Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Chile, and Ontario spoke about wine tourism in their region.

We again invite our colleagues from the wine and tourism industries outside North America to attend the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference. Here is what you can expect:

  • An opportunity for six of you to speak at the International Perspectives on Wine Tourism session.
  • If you are a winery association or tourism promotion agency, a free opportunity to staff a table and pour your wines at our Expo.
  • Valuable content on tourism and marketing that is generic to all wine regions of the world.
  • The ability to interact with wine tourism leaders from throughout North America and beyond, providing invaluable contacts for your future endeavors.

To participate, simply register for the conference today. You will be asked about staffing an Expo table in the registration form and we’ll contact you about possibly speaking at the conference.

Mobile Marketing Expert Scott Stanchak to Keynote 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference

Mobile marketing expert Scott Stanchak will provide the keynote address at the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference, scheduled for November 8-10 in Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country.

Scott StanchakAccording to Stanchak, mobile now accounts for 60% of all time spent digitally and 90% of mobile time is spent on apps. So if you are not prepared for and involved with mobile marketing, you are losing ground to your competitors and contact with your customers.

Stanchak leads mobile marketing strategy for one of the nation’s leading newspapers and is the founder of Winery Passport, the wine industry’s most popular mobile app for winery tourism. Previously, Stanchak directed mobile marketing and product strategy for Avis Budget Group. He’s been a leader in digital strategy for over 10 years, including developing and executing mobile and Web strategies for multimillion-dollar brands such as NBA, AT&T and News Corp. Stanchak is also a well-regarded speaker, having presented in front of audiences at Apps World, CES, Mobile Marketer Conference and VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit.

Scott, via his company Bakburner Digital, has developed more than a dozen mobile websites and responsive websites including Winery Passport. Winery Passport is helping wineries improve direct-to-consumer revenue through increased brand exposure and customer relationships, was named the top travel wine app by Food & Wine Magazine in 2015, and has been featured in Forbes, Wine-Searcher.com and SiriusXM Radio.

We hooked up with Scott to get his views on speaking at the upcoming conference:

I am excited to present the keynote address at the wine industry’s premier event for wine marketing and tourism. There’s no better conference for those in the wine industry to learn the best tactics to get their brands in front of consumers.

Mobile is such an important piece, if not the most important piece, of the digital landscape today. Consumers spend more time on their smartphones than they do on desktops. Yet there’s so much about mobile, and how to market effectively on the platform, that remains a black box for many in the industry. My goal is to provide the audience clarity, actionable takeaways and inspiration about mobile app and web marketing.

Winery Passport’s objective is to help wineries reach this massive mobile audience by building brand awareness and customer relationships. This results in incremental direct-to-consumer revenue — from a mobile app. As Winery Passport has grown into the wine industry’s most popular mobile app for winery tourism, we’ve used data and feedback to create a platform that maximizes opportunities for wineries.

Texas is the perfect setting for this year’s Wine Marketing and Tourism Conference. There’s been tremendous growth and interest in the wine industry there and I am eager to taste some of the state’s finest wines.

I look forward to spending time with all the attendees and the opportunity to learn more about what others are doing in the wine and travel space.

If you have not yet done so, please consider registering for the WMTC today. Prices increase May 1!

Content & Speakers Announced – 2016 WMTC

We are happy to present the agenda for the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference, in addition to some of the speakers.

The 2016 conference, as always, will present a combination of speakers from our host region and some of the top brains of the wine marketing and tourism industries from around the country and world.

We are very excited to have Sid Miller, the 12th Commissioner of Agriculture in Texas, providing a welcome to the conference. In addition, we have a panel of three wine and tourism leaders from the Texas Hill Country introducing us to the region and wine writer Jeff Siegel moderating two panels of Texas experts talking about government support for wine tourism and drinking local.

In addition, we are bringing in some of the top wine experts from California including PR maven Paul Wagner of Balzac Communications, filmmaker Dina Mande of Juice Media, Camron King of Lodi Wine who led Lodi’s charge to be the Wine Region of the Year in 2015, and Sandra Hess of DTC Wine Workshops. We are even offering up the expertise of two of our own marketing professionals, Beth Peluse and Robyn Scott, who will present specific topics on wine marketing.

The schedule is complete but we are still confirming speakers, including four representatives from international regions on the International Perspectives of Wine Tourism panel. Our keynote speaker is confirmed and we will announce this next week.

Please remember to register for the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference soon! Prices increase May 1.

Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference Call for Content

The Call for Content for the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference is now open:

Content Proposal Form

Please keep in mind several things concerning content proposals:

  • If you wish to apply to present during International Perspectives on Wine Tourism, please use the separate form
  • The last day to submit a proposal is Friday, February 26 (except for the International Perspectives submissions)
  • 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 social media marketing, 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 WTC alumni for their vote
  • 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 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will attract approximately 180 high-level attendees from around North America and the world.