We realize that it is costly to attend conferences. Travel to the conference destination, the conference itself, lodging and food add up. Wineries/vineyards, wine tour operators, tour operators not necessarily focusing on wine and those in the lodging trade should consider attending a conference related to wine and travel. What wine tourism conferences are available?
For those interested in or who have a stake in wine tourism living in the United States, there are two conferences involving the theme wine tourism. The west coast Wine Tourism Conference is held each year in November. The conference has been held in California twice, Oregon in 2013 and scheduled again in California for 2014. Another option is the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) so far held in several different European countries including Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Croatia. The 2014 IWINETC will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia on March 29th and 30th.
Why would people interested in wine tourism in the US travel thousands of miles to a conference in Georgia? Georgia is different from any wine region that Kathy and I have visited in North America, Europe and Oceania. First off, they are at the beginning of a major effort in wine tourism. Many of the wineries and vineyards in the US are also at the very beginning of wine tourism. Georgia covers the land where wine had its birth. That birth can be traced back to 8,000 years ago. No other wine regions in the world have continuously made wine for those thousands of years. Although Georgia is making wines using the same technology that the rest of the world uses, they are also making wines using the traditional method in qvevri. In Georgia, many qvevri-made wines are natural wines; no added yeast, yeast nutrients or winemaking supplies are added to the wines.
When you taste and drink wines in Georgia, it is often a new experience. Do not expect most wineries to make wine from Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. Rather expect varieties that you may not have experienced in the past. Varietal grapes include Saperavi, Chkhaveri, Tavkveri, Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane and Kisi, among many others. Georgia has over 500 grape varieties and a few wineries have vineyard libraries with hundreds of the varietal grapes planted.
The IWINETC has an international line-up of presenters, not just from Europe. There are several of us from the United States presenting at the conference. But the expense could be a challenge. An option may be to send a representative from a wine region. Many successful wineries in the United States do not operate in a vacuum. They reach out to the surrounding wineries for advice, critique and equipment loan. In a wine region, it should be easy to pull resources to send a staff person willing to travel to Georgia for the conference, and then report back to the wineries in the region.
You can find more information about the International Wine Tourism Conference at their website.
Conference regestration page
You can get an idea of the presentations from the Knowledge Program page.
Wine Trail Traveler’s coverage of Georgia wineries and vineyards