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Wineries Unlimited Moves to Richmond

By MARY ANN DANCISINWineries Unlimited, CSW

2011 Conference Theme: “Playing to Win – Strategies for Sustainable Success”

Wineries Unlimited is moving to Richmond, VA, for the March 2011 conference. This 35th anniversary event is organized by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, a leading independent wine trade publication, and is the second largest vineyard and winery conference and tradeshow in North America. It’s estimated that the 2011 event will bring over 2,000 visitors and $1.5 million in revenue to Virginia.

The conference at the Greater Richmond Convention Center runs from March 29 to April 1, with a trade show featuring over 400 vendors on March 30 and 31.

Governor Bob McDonnell, who made the official announcement earlier this year, stated, “Virginia wines have seen their standing in the domestic and global marketplaces grow in recent years and having Wineries Unlimited in Virginia will help us as we continue our efforts to promote Virginia wines both here and abroad. This is also a chance for us to showcase our first class wineries to people from across the nation.”

For the past four years, Wineries Unlimited was held at the Valley Forge Convention Center in suburban Philadelphia. In 2010, attendees from 30 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and four Canadian provinces, participated, with a total attendance of 2,343. Previous shows were located in Lancaster, PA.

Annette Boyd, marketing office director of the Virginia Wine Board, said the move will create new opportunities for Virginia wineries: “Our growers and producers will have better access to the information provided by Wineries Unlimited, and the event will help showcase their wines to colleagues from other states.”

Special events during the four-day conference include a regional wine reception with Virginia native Andy Beckstoffer of Beckstoffer Vineyards; a keynote luncheon with speaker Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation; an exhibitor-sponsored trade show buffet; and the Best of the East Grand Gala and Gold Medal Tasting featuring winners from last season’s International Eastern Wine Competition.

Special guests Governor McDonnell and Virginia State Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore will be in attendance. Participants can bid, wine, and dine at silent and live auctions with proceeds benefiting the ASEV/ES Scholarship Fund.

Key speakers

The conference program includes sessions for newcomers, specialized workshops, and multiple session tracks on enology, viticulture, management, marketing, and financial issues. Bruce Zoecklein, Ph.D., will moderate Enology.

Zoecklein is a Professor and Enology Specialist with the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech, working in a research, extension and teaching capacity. He holds a BS degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry, an MS in Horticulture and a Ph.D. in Food Science.

He’s a member of the board of editors of the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, the Journal of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and a contributing editor for Practical Winery and Vineyard. He’s also the regional coordinator for AVERN (American Viticulture and Enology Research Network) and coauthor of two books. His research efforts involve the effects of vineyard management and processing on grape aroma and flavor precursors. He’s a director of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section.

The Viticulture track is organized by Keith Striegler, Ph.D., University of Missouri and the Sales & Marketing track is under the direction of Paul Wagner, marketing consultant at Balzac Communications.

New in 2011 is a “Tasting Room Profitability & Wine Club Summit,” a one-day intensive workshop available for an additional fee, with marketing expert Elizabeth “E” Slater. According to organizers, sessions are designed to increase knowledge, expand profit, and put money back in wineries’ pockets. For more on specific workshop topics, see

Keynote speaker Trezise is president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, a private, not-for-profit organization that sponsors research and conducts promotion programs in support of New York grapes, grape juice and wine. He serves on the Presidential Council and as Director of Communications of FIVS (formerly F̩d̩ration Internationale des Vins et Spiritueux РInternational Federation of Wines and Spirits) based in Paris.

He also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of WineAmerica, the national organization of American wineries; as a Board member of the National Grape and Wine Initiative; as a Board member of the Wine Market Council; was a co-founder of the American Wine Alliance for Research and Education, and has been active in many other organizations.

Beckstoffer is a highly regarded winegrape grower and president of Beckstoffer Vineyards in California’s North Coast. A native of Richmond, Beckstoffer became a founding director of the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association (NVGGA) in 1975. He was responsible for the idea of basing the price of a ton of grapes on the future price of a bottle of wine, a revolutionary concept in the mid-70s.

Ease of access to new site

Organizers point out several key features of the new location in Richmond, including easy access from I-95, I-64, and Richmond International Airport; conference rooms and trade show are all in one location; hotel deals and travel discounts are available; and there are numerous dining, shopping, and entertainment options in the immediate area.

“The outpouring of enthusiasm and excitement we’ve received in the state of Virginia – from the wine industry up to the governor – has been tremendous,” said Robert Merletti, publisher of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, and president of Vineyard & Winery Services, Inc. “Virginia vintners are eager to learn the latest winegrowing techniques as well as to establish beneficial vendor relations.”

“The needs of Wineries Unlimited will be well served in Richmond,” said Ann Heidig, president of the Virginia Wineries Association. “Governor Bob McDonnell is very supportive of the Virginia wine industry as well as state agriculture and tourism.”

A full conference pass is available to attendees for $869. There are early registration discounts of up to 15% if you act quickly. Preferred rates are being offered at the Richmond Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn.

For more information, call 800.535.5670, or visit the Wineries Unlimited website at Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available.