Sunday, April 03, 2011

Wineries Unlimited 2011 - Richamond, VA!

Well, the first decision was to fly or drive. This was the question most winery people were asking each other. Especially for New York and New England winery owners, the drive to Philadelphia wasn't so bad, but Pichmond proved a tough drive. Meanwhile, for Virginia winery owners, the decision was relatively easy. I teamed up with a friend, Ben Peacock of Tousey Winery, and we drove down together like a bad buddy-road picture. The drive was six-and-a-half hours. Not too bad.

According to Jim Trezise, "Wineries Unlimited was created decades ago by Bill Moffett and Hope Merletti as one of the offshoots of Eastern Grape Grower News, a modest little publication which grew into Vineyard & Winery Management, now a leading national trade magazine. Rob Merletti now owns and leads the VWM empire, which includes the magazine, two major trade shows (they took over the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference this year as a companion to Wineries Unlimited), the world's largest portfolio of wine competitions, specialized seminars, and much else." The show itself was better than Philadelphia. Most vendors thought the Philly venue was too difficult to get in and out of and the trade show was separated onto two floors. Many vendors were happier this year. The show was much easier to get in and out of for vendors as well as patrons. And the single floor made it easier to shop and visit with friends.

"Besides having a great convention center with ample facilities for the large trade show, numerous seminars, and huge banquets (with good food, even!), this year's edition of WU offered concurrent seminars on Viticulture (moderated by Dr. Keith Striegler of Missouri), Enology (Dr. Bruce Zoecklin of Virginia Tech), and Marketing (Paul Wagner, Balzac Communications, Napa Valley), creating a new consistency and logical flow to the program," wrote Trezise in his recent New York Wine Press post. (4/2/11)

All of these seminars were very well attended. As to who went and who dd not go, many vendors said they saw as many New York wineries as they had in years past, and many more Virginians. Pennsylvanians seemed slightly fewer, but most vendors did not notice any drop off after that. In fact, many said the show was a very good one for them, business wise. As for the seminars, one of the most talked about was the wine club seminar, from the first day, as well as several business lectures, and several on viticulture. The seminars were as popular as ever. And the luncheon was as well attended as ever as well. Jim was the keynote speaker. "I was honored to serve as keynote speaker at the luncheon and offer a few thoughts about the opportunities and challenges presented by American wine industry growth. Key points: Our industry nationwide is truly awesome when it comes to past winery growth and future potential; but there are also looming challenges which we need to recognize and face together if we want to continue growing; and there are specific steps we can take to do that. Focus on quality. Think local. Get involved in the broader community." All in all, it was a very good show. Virginia was a nice change of pace. I saw many of the usual characters, including Mike Fiore, Richard Olsen-Harbich, Steve Mudd, and many, many others.