Some of you have heard me say before that no, wine doesn’t begin with grapes, it begins with people. And you can see some of your favorite industry peeps, and meet some new friends and colleagues, at the 2019 Unified Symposium, the Western Hemisphere’s largest grape and wine trade show, in Sacramento this week. What am I excited about, besides getting to see so many of my fabulous, vinous tribe?
Lunchtime Keynote- Listening to and Learning From….the Spirits Industry!(?)
Talk about something new, this year’s lunchtime keynote will not be yet another wine industry luminary but rather Master Distiller Lance Winters from St. George Spirits, one of the most successful artisan distilleries in the country if not the world. So why are we listening to a guy who makes booze and not wine? Among many other reasons, because Lance and his team have always been way out ahead of trends, consumer needs and customer desires when it comes to alcoholic beverages. St. George is also always spot on with their ingredient-sourcing, packaging and marketing not to mention overall product deliciousness. Listen and learn…..
Tuesday Jan 29, 11:30-1:30, Sheraton Grand Nave Ballroom, priced separately and includes plated lunch and wine
New Exhibit Hall Floor Tour-Marketing Focus
One of the cool “underground” experiences that Unified offers are themed exhibit-hall tours so you can get a curated edit in a short amount of time without having to wade through miles of booths. In addition to the regular winemaking and viticulture tours, this year they are also offering a Marketing Tour, focusing on the marketing, sales, and PR services available to the wine industry. As we all know (or should know) it’s harder to sell good wine than it is to make it and as consumers are increasingly in demand of transparency, authenticity and quality experiences, every successful brand needs a stable of marketing and sales professionals on their side.
Wednesday Jan 30, 3:00-4:00 PM, meet in Sacramento Convention Center Room 203
Have a great brand idea but don’t have the juice to fill it? Have some amazing wines in your cellar but are looking beyond your winery’s brands in order to move it to the right customer? Wednesday’s “Alternative Routes to the Retail Market” will focus on how to make private, control and custom projects work for you. Of a similar vein but applicable to almost any winery or brand, “Outsourcing Success Stories: Leveraging Custom Crush and Processing Services for Growth and Profitability” speaks to brand pivots, SKU re-alignments and strategic growth. Disclaimer- I’m the moderator (I bring over 10 years experience in custom winemaking) and my expert panelists and I will lead you through the legal and practical why’s and how’s while showing you the pitfalls to avoid in the custom crush world.
“Alternative Routes to the Retail Market” Wednesday Jan 30, 1:30-3:30, Hyatt Regency Ballroom C
Hey, it may not be sexy but compliance, QC and food safety are a critical part of what we’re all about in the wine industry. “Do not pass go, do not collect $200”…..you know the drill. The FSMA (FDA Food Safety Modernization Act) legal and practical update has become a critical annual informational download and this year’s panel, led by Paul Huckaba of Bronco Wine Company and including Charles Breen, who is perhaps the most experienced FSMA consultant in the country, should be required attendance for small and large winery leaders alike.
Wednesday Jan 30, 1:00-2:15, Sacramento Convention Center Room 204
Want to explore even more about this year’s program? Check out this video intro and interview with Dr. Nichola Hall and Dr. Tom Collins, the Program Committee Vice Chair and Chair, respectively.
It’s impossible to see or do it all at Unified but hopefully the above gives you a sneak peek into what I’m thinking about as I pack my bag and wrap up work at the winery this weekend. Grab a copy of the schedule, get ready to party and I’ll see you, and all my other favorite Winemaking people, in Sacramento in a couple of days!
Alison Crowe is the Director of Winemaking for Plata Wine Partners, a supplier of coastal California AVA-driven wines. All of her wines are sourced from her company’s 100% sustainably-certified vineyards and clients include national brands, restaurants and retailers. Wines include Garnet Vineyards, Picket Fence Vineyards, Verada Wines and Buttercream Chardonnay and Back From the Dead Red. She has served on the Unified Symposium Program Committee since 2013.