By Michael Kaiser
Last week the 35th Annual Wineries Unlimited Trade Show and Conference, presented by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine was held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia. The 2011 Conference was the first to be held in Virginia and it did not disappoint. The Virginia wine industry really embraced the Conference and showed why it is one of the most important wine states in the country.
Wineries Unlimited is always a good conference for WineAmerica. We see a lot of old friends and we get to make some new ones. This year was no different. As always, we shared a booth on the trade show floor with the WineAmerica Insurance Administrators who were excited to talk about their new insurance program. Their new underwriters (Markel) are located in the Richmond area. The trade show was an excellent way for us to illustrate why wineries should belong to WineAmerica.
From viticulture and enology to marketing, Wineries Unlimited is a very good way for existing and new wineries to learn how to make their business more successful. Jim Trezise, the president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (and WineAmerica Executive Committee and Board Member) gave the keynote address at the conference. Additionally, at the Best of the East Grand Gala, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia was the featured speaker. The Governor and First Lady of Virginia have been huge supporters of the Virginia Wine Industry since he took office in January 2010. This March, during Virginia Wine Week, the first lady planted Chambourcin vines at the Virginia Governor's Mansion and they hope to turn that into a wine. Todd Haymore, the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture, also spoke at the Gala. His presentation focused on how the Virginia wine industry has grown in recent years.
The slogan for Wineries Unlimited 2011 was: "Virginia is for Wine Lovers" and the program and attendance confirms that. We look forward to the 36th conference in 2012.
I hope to see some of you at the "License to Steal" wine marketing conference next week in Geneva, Ohio. I will be a featured speaker.