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IFWTWA Conference, First Impression

Kathy and I just finished the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association IFWTWA Conference and are awaiting our flight home. There are some initial impressions, however, like most conferences it will take days to weeks to process everything. On Sunday there was a reception. The hors d’oeuvres looked enticing, however we were scheduled for a dine around and held back on the consumption. After a few opening remarks and directions we were whisked off to our first restaurant LAVO. During the dine around, we visited three restaurants. We really felt at home at LAVA and could have spent the evening there. We sampled several of the Italian restaurant’s appetizers. They were excellent. We then went to Zine, an Asian restaurant, where we sampled beef and bass. Our final destination was the Double Helix Wine and Whisky Bar where we had the opportunity to taste some of the wines made for Double Helix. Everyone in our dine around group enjoyed the evening.

The next morning we had breakfast in one of the conference rooms. Following the breakfast there were a number of presentations. The IFWTWA Conference is still young and it would have been nice to have additional presentations from which to choose. As it was, the ones I chose had limited information that was new for me. During this time there were no presentations that covered the topics of wine or wine travel. During the afternoon, we went to chef demonstrations at three restaurants. My first stop was Lagasse’s Stadium where the chef demonstrated making three appetizers. We enjoyed the appetizers. This was wonderful. My next restaurant stop was at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro. The staff set up seven tables with wine and cheese pairings. These were great and we could go the tables at our own pace. My third stop was a disappointment. We toured the Venetian and Palazzo kitchen that was quite impressive. Unfortunately I could not hear the executive chef giving the tour. During the evening we were treated to a performance of the Blue Man Group. I loved the creativity of the performance.

We were on our own for breakfast on the second full day of the conference. The first session had a panel discussion with two editors of Las Vegas magazines. Our next session was a pastry chef demonstration of how to make a $750 cupcake. Who would buy a $750? After a break we explored the Venetian and Palazzo slots. Since we checked in a few days early, we felt that we knew our way around the property. Our next session was a market place. This was like speed dating, however in this case writers met with different groups to establish connections and possible story ideas. We made several connections that may lead to followup visits to several states where we haven’t visited wineries yet. The day ended with a Riedel wine tasting. Four wines were tasted in four different Riedel glasses and a joker glass. For wine enthusiasts this was clearly the highlight of the conference.

The last morning breakfast was provided and offered a last chance to network with several people. Networking is an important part of conferences. It is very helpful that there were opportunities at this conference to connect with people and bounce ideas around.

While at the conference I developed two ideas and outlines for presentations at future IFWTWA conferences. We were encouraged to write a book about our experiences on our wine journey. This was something that we thought about before, but never followed through because we weren’t aware of an interest. There was a definite interest.

It will take several days and weeks to process all the information we gathered at the IFWTWA Conference. That will give us just a few days before our next conference, Wineries Unlimited Trade Show and Conference.


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