Navigating (or disrupting!) the traditional three-tier norms; utilizing the latest sales and marketing technologies; strategically enhancing consumer engagement and brand loyalty. These are just some of the areas where the industry actually advanced within the last year.
"As is often the case, challenging times drive creative thinking and we certainly have seen that in how our industry responded to the impact of COVID-19," says George Christie, President of Wine Industry Network. "Out of necessity, we found new ways to engage, market, sell, and deliver our wines into the hands of our consumers. This conference will highlight some of the best of what we've learned from 2020—which is why we're offering it for free to anybody in the industry," adds Christie.
This FREE two-day symposium will feature experts from all sectors of the industry. Our mission is to provide every attendee with tools and actionable takeaways to help their business be in the best position to thrive as we navigate toward a more dynamic future for the wine industry.
Symposium Topics & Schedule
Day 1: 3-Tier Distribution Topics
Kick off the Wine Industry Sales Symposium with an overview of the most recent news on US wine distribution followed by insights into the latest beverage alcohol trends through the first quarter of 2021, presented by Industry Expert Danny Brager and Wine Market Council President and Sip Source Analyst Dale Stratton. The session concludes with a look into current trends across three-tier off and on-premise, e-commerce, and direct-to-consumer channels, including wine, beer, spirits, and hard seltzers.
Small and mid-sized wine producers have always struggled to find proper wholesale representation. This panel discussion offers an innovative solution: Representatives from three of the largest distributors—RNDC, Breakthru Beverage Group, and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits—will speak to each of their company’s new programs dedicated specifically to smaller wine brands. Join the conversation and learn about new benefits on offer, advice for interested producers, and how your small or mid-sized company can gain a reputed partner in distribution.
Don't miss Eric Guerra's new book, When Great Wine Is Not Enough: A Wine Sales And Marketing Guide For Wineries, Négociants & Wine Brand Owners.
If we learned anything in 2020 it’s that the wine industry needs to stay on top on the latest technology - especially in regards to sales, sales management, and consumer outreach and engagement. This session features industry thought leaders each showcasing unique and innovative platforms designed to disrupt the current state of wine sales and marketing and help brands of all sizes better prepare for the tech-savvy future of the wine industry.
Day 2: Direct2 Consumer Topics
Wine Industry Network's President & CEO, George Christie, will kick-off the day by giving you a brief overview of what to expect during the Direct2 Consumer portion of the symposium. George will also be welcoming and introducing our speakers for the day and our Symposium Moderators, Laura Webb and Eric Guerra.
Don't miss Eric Guerra's new book, When Great Wine Is Not Enough: A Wine Sales And Marketing Guide For Wineries, Négociants & Wine Brand Owners.
COVID has changed the players on the map for alcohol sales. We can no longer rely on old stand-by channels of on-premise accounts and tasting room. We all must now play together in the online space, where the competition is not each other, but Instacart. We are entering a new age where the smart brands will put away old silo’d thinking and looks at where cross using assets, strategies, targeting and channels can gain real efficiencies and brand strength.
Today, winery point-of-sale platforms are able to collect more data than ever. Couple that with Google Analytics, email marketing reports, industry benchmarks and all the other data-gathering tools at our disposal—it can be overwhelming. This session, led by WISE Academy’s Jennifer Warrington, is aimed to help you assess that data: how to compile it, pull out the most useful information, and, most importantly, how to use that data to meet your company’s specific sales goals. Join Warrington as she speaks with three wine industry executives who will share their successes in leveraging data to build a stronger wine business.
In an era filled with fires and illness, there has never been a better time to strengthen the personal relationships we have with our wine consumers. Sandra Hess, Consumer Engagement Specialist and founder of DTC Wine Workshops, will moderate an insightful discussion between three winery executives who represent small, mid and large wine brands across California. Each has formed solid communities of brand loyalists with a focus on relationship building, lifestyle experiences and philanthropic initiatives. Learn how to nurture current consumer relationships and empower loyalists to expand brand reach—and personal touch.
Meet the Experts
As a Napa native, Efrain was destined to work in the wine industry. As a young man, he spent his weekends and summers on Pritchard Hill immersing himself in every aspect of the wine business. From working in the vineyard to production and everything in between, he was hungry for knowledge and eager to learn. After graduating from Sonoma State University with a degree in Marketing, he began his career working for several well-known wine producers around the Napa Valley running their DTC programming and marketing departments.
A few years later, he landed his dream job with Clif Family Winery, a sister company to Clif Bar & Company. The day he stepped foot; he knew he was going to establish deep roots with this company. Working for Clif Family has given him the opportunity to create a dynamic and forward-thinking Marketing approach that has helped set Clif Family Winery apart from its competitors. Today, he spends most of his time focusing on the vision and direction of the Digital Marketing Department while serving on the board of the company leadership team.
Tom’s journey to his current position in the Oregon Wine Industry is anything but conventional. During his 16 years as a golf professional at private country clubs in Baltimore and Los Angeles, he learned the importance of great hospitality. But it was a random trip to the Napa Valley in 2003 that changed everything, and when he fell in love with fine wine. With an eye on exiting the golf business, Tom set his sights on a job in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. A part-time job in the Domaine Serene tasting room quickly led to a promotion to Wine Club Manager, where he spent 8 years working with a membership that quickly grew to over 3000. A desire to work for a small wine brand led him to his current position as Director of Consumer Sales and Hospitality at Elizabeth Chambers Cellar, a small producer in McMinnville, Oregon. Here, he oversees the operational and hospitality sides of the DTC business.
When he’s not at the winery, he still enjoys the occasional round of golf, exploring new wines and beers, traveling, and cooking/grilling.
Danny Brager brings a wealth of experience in the Beverage Alcohol industry to his role as an independent consultant.
He is the former Senior Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice Area in the United States, where for close to 20 years he led teams that supported relationships with Nielsen’s many Beer, Wine, and Spirits clients (suppliers, importers, distributors, and retailers) as well as with key industry groups and the media. In that role, Danny succinctly provided data driven analysis and insights, focused on the U.S. retail environment and consumer/shopper – who they are, what they buy, and why - and what to expect looking ahead. Every year, he presents at large numbers of industry and individual company events. His informed opinions are respected by beverage alcohol producers, importers, distributors, retailers, and financiers.
In September 2020, Danny introduced Brager Beverage Alcohol Consulting, offering analysis services to beverage alcohol companies seeking to translate market data into authoritative, fact-based insights in support of their brand and corporate goals. Brager will also continue to be a contributor and speaker at beverage alcohol events, as well as the media/press.
Danny was born in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Toronto where he graduated from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto with an Honors Bachelor Degree in Business Administration. He relocated to Mission Viejo, California in 1993 where he now resides. He has four grown children - all Millennials across the age range.
Stacy Briscoe is a Sonoma-based wine journalist and editor who produces content for several publications including Wine Enthusiast, SevenFifty Daily, and Wine Industry Network, among others. She also speaks at industry conferences, judges wine competitions, and is a WSET Diploma candidate. Follow her on her personal website: BriscoeBites.com.
George Christie, a New Jersey native, settled in Sonoma County after college in 1991 where he quickly realized that the wine industry was where he wanted to concentrate his efforts. Since that time, he has been involved in nearly every aspect of the wine industry, from vineyard operations and grower relations to distributor realignments and national marketing campaigns. Always an active member in the wine community, Christie has also held board positions with the Russian River Wine Road, Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley and the Sonoma County Vintners. In 2008, George and his wife Tami, along with the Saini Family, partnered to create Saini Vineyards, a winery specializing on Old Vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley.
In 2009, with Elizabeth 'E' Slater, George launched the Wine Industry Network (WIN). What began as an online directory has evolved over the years into one the leading B2B marketing and media companies serving the wine industry. WIN works with over 600 industry product and service providers and produces the Wine Industry Expo (WIN Expo), the 2nd largest trade show for the wine industry, along with the Wine & Weed Symposium, the Wine Industry Advisor news site and the Afternoon Brief daily news email with over 35,000 industry subscribers.
Daren began his career in fine wine wholesale in 1997 working for a boutique regional fine wine broker on California’s Central Coast before transitioning to Young’s Market Company newly formed Estates Group fine wine team in 2002. He spent 4 years from 2009 to 2012 working with the Jackson Family owned wholesaler Regal Wine Company before rejoining The Estates Group in 2012. He joined Breakthru Beverage Group as Senior Director Business Development, Aspect Wine in December of 2020.
Over his 23-year career in fine wine wholesale he has held roles as Account Manager, Division Manager, Director of Hotels & Venues CA, Director of Marketing and Brand Management CA, Vice President Programming-Wine and Vice President, Portfolio Management Estates Group CA. Daren is a Certified Specialist of Wine.
Daren is a cum laude graduate of California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness (Marketing). While at Cal Poly, he held a two-year internship at Eberle Winery and was an inaugural member of Vines to Wines club. Daren enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter cooking and travelling, watching his daughter compete in equestrian, mountain biking, and drinking Burgundy.
Susan DeMatei has over 30 years of luxury direct marketing experience, but in the past 16, she has worked exclusively in the wine industry. In 2012 Susan started WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing agency for the alcohol space. The firm is based in downtown Napa and supports domestic and international clients with both B2B and DTC marketing in digital as well as traditional channels. For the past two consecutive years, Inc. Magazine recognized WineGlass Marketing as the only Napa company listed in the top 250 hyper-growth tier of the "5000 Series California's Top Companies". WineGlass Marketing has also been recognized by the community winning the North Bay Bohemian "Best Creative Agency" spot for 2021 as well as being honored by her clients in the North Bay Business Journal as Napa's "Best Company to Do Business With."
Susan holds a B.S. in Communications from Boston University and an A.S. in Viticulture from Napa Valley College. She is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Specialist in Wine/Wine Education with the Society of Wine Educators, and awarded a DMA (Direct Marketing Association) award for strategic excellence. She is the marketing columnist for Grapevine Magazine and a frequent freelance writer and speaker at conferences. Susan also is the marketing instructor at WISE and an adjunct professor and lecturer at the Institute for Enology & Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College.
Author of the highly acclaimed "When Great Wine Is Not Enough: A Wine Sales & Marketing Guide For Wineries, Négociants & Wine Brand Owners", named the 2018 North Bay Business Journal Winery Sales & Marketing Officer Of The Year, with over 17 years of wine experience, having managed or sold over 20 million cases of wine and developed over 500+ wine brands while receiving 14 packaging awards... author, wine executive, label designer, wine blogger, fine wine investor and wine public speaker Eric Guerra has led some of the industry's most iconic wineries and wine brands, including his recent wine venture www.reservetastings.com, a direct-to-consumer private Wine + Music club that offers high-end wines that are paired with musically inspired label artwork and playlists.
Jake Hegeman is Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA). In this role, Jake works with state and federal regulatory officials on behalf of WSWA and its members. Jake joined WSWA in 2013 from Stateside Associates, a Virginia based state government affairs firm where he served as Vice President. In this role, Jake managed the company’s regulatory division and worked on advocacy efforts with a wide variety of state regulatory agencies.
Prior to rejoining Stateside Associates, Jake served as National State Liaison at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). As a liaison, Jake worked alongside agency leadership and state agriculture officials to improve regulatory processes and enhance communication and coordination across a range of animal and plant health issues.
Jake previously worked at Stateside Associates from 2004-2008 as Senior Regulatory Counsel where he managed the Regulatory Services Division and managed numerous research and compliance projects in the energy, environment and retail arenas. Jake also helped spearhead a workgroup of state environmental regulators addressing a range of waste and cleanup issues.
Originally from upstate New York, Jake earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and his Juris Doctor from Tulane Law School, both with honors. Jake is a member of the New York State Bar and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
Sandra Hess is a wine consumer engagement & direct sales strategist supporting winery teams throughout the US, Canada and Australia. Sandra founded DTC Wine Workshops Consulting Agency, based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, in July 2013 and also launched an online training division in August 2014. Sandra publishes the DTC Wine Case Study Series and is a frequent speaker at wine industry events nationally and globally. Sandra serves as a steering committee member for the DTC Wine Symposium and an advisory board member for the Wine Business Monthly WiVi Conference Central Coast. Sandra formed a partnership with Wine Tourism Australia in 2017 and provides online coaching as well as training programs to winery teams across Australia and New Zealand. In addition to her professional contributions, Sandra is the Past-President of Women for WineSense Napa Sonoma chapter. Prior to joining the wine industry, Sandra supported businesses nationally and globally in the areas of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions, compliance management software solutions, customer engagement workflow automation and sales/marketing strategic planning.
Sandra is considered a thought leader in the DTC Wine Industry and has developed proven methodologies over the past 10 years. Sandra has been featured in Forbes, Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, Market Watch, Silicon Valley Bank on Wine. Sandra was a keynote speaker at the Australian Wine Suppliers “Impact Conference” in Adelaide Australia, October 2018. Wineries of BC featured Sandra as a keynote speaker at the Direct to Consumer Wine Canada Conference in November 2016 and she also provide a keynote address at the International Wine Forum in Mendoza Argentina, October 2014. Sandra developed the first of its kind, Direct-to-Consumer Sales Roadshow Program for Vin65/WineDirect and The Winery CRM (Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution). Sandra publishes a DTC Sales Blog at: https://dtcwineworkshops.com/blog.
This past year, Sandra provided winery association workshops across California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Texas and Virginia. Sandra also moderated a panel discussion at DTC Wine Symposium in Concord, CA – February 2019 on “Growing ROI from Winery Events” and served in a panel discussion at UNIFIED Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, CA – January 2019 on “Customer Journey Mapping”. In February, 2018 Sandra joined a panel discussion on “Creating 360 Degree Customer Views” at the DTC Wine Symposium in Concord, CA. In March, 2017 Sandra moderated a discussion on “Managing Customer Relationships with CRM Tools” at the WiVi Conference in Paso Robles, CA. In June 2016, Sandra moderated a panel, DTC Wine Case Studies Revealed at the DIRECT ShipCompliant Conference in San Francisco. Sandra joined Rob McMillan in May 2016 for a live Video-Cast to analyze results from the Silicon Valley Bank Tasting Room Survey. In April 2016, The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance invited Sandra to present a workshop on “Customer Engagement & Retention Best Practices”. Sandra is a regular guest presenter on DTC wine sales and marketing fundamentals at Fresno State University wine business program and mentors college students studying wine business.
Cindy Leonard serves as Senior Vice President, Management and Business Development, responsible for Commercial Sales Planning and collaboration with the Commercial Planning and Sales and Marketing teams and driving supplier performance, alignment and strategy.
Cindy began her experience in the beverage alcohol industry, with the Gallo Wine Company in Los Angeles. She escalated in management and leadership roles that took her to National Account Manager with E&J Gallo Winery, Remy Amerique, Regal Wine Company, and Regional Supplier Management with Jackson Family Fine Wines. Cindy joined Southern Wine & Spirits in Arizona in 2000, as Brand Manager elevating to Vice President & General Manager SGWS/AZ Fine Wine Division and ultimately to a Vice President, Supplier Management and Business Development at SGWS Corporate in Miami.
Cindy earned her bachelor's from Arizona State University. She also holds her Court of Master Sommeliers, Level One Certification and a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) 2 Certification. Cindy also graduated from the Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits Emerging Leaders Program in 2018.
Paul Mabray has been a powerful change agent in the wine industry for over twenty years. He has been at the forefront of all major digital trends for the wine industry, working with WineShopper.com and Wine.com when they entered the wine-digital space. He founded two companies that significantly changed the digital US wine landscape, first by introducing winery e-commerce with Inertia Beverage Group that transformed into WineDirect.com pioneering winery e-commerce and then again introducing social media and social customer relationship management with VinTank.com. He is considered the wine industry’s foremost futurist and thought leader, harnessing the power and potential of digital tools and methodologies to move the industry into the future.
Like so many of the Monson family, Taylor attended Washington State University before returning to contribute to the family business as the National and International Sales Director across the company’s many brands. The Monson family settled in Washington state four generations ago and began building an estate devoted to diversified agriculture. Many of their original projects continue – cattle ranching and orchard tending, for instance. But the lion’s share of the massive property is devoted to grape growing, with some 2,200 acres of vineyards. Some of the grapes are sold but many also are made into brands the family company Goose Ridge sells such as Goose Ridge WInes, g3, StonesCap, and Tall Sage as well as VIDO Vodka and Cascadian Outfitters, the company’s strong entry into the canned market. The company runs four tasting rooms in Washington state, and Taylor also championed a recent launch of Destination Brands, an umbrella organization that encompasses all the aforementioned labels for trade.
Patti Signorile is currently the Vice President Fine Wine, Supplier Business Development at Republic National Distributing Company. Her responsibilities included actively partnering with current and potential suppliers to capitalize on market and category opportunities focused on luxury Fine Wine and premium import portfolios. Prior to RNDC, Patti was the Vice President of Sales at Folio Fine Wine Partners. She started her career in Fine Wine over 20 years ago at a small distributor in California where she held many roles from merchandiser to sales representative for the general market and chains.
Patti enjoys spending time with her husband and kids travelling, cooking, watching the kids play sports and swimming at the beach.
Jim Silver spent the 80s and a good part of the 90s as a retail wine buyer and as sommelier for the renowned Four Seasons Hotel Group. The latter half of the 90s and into the 2000s Jim was the sales manager for fine companies such as Remy Amerique and Hess Collection. Based in New York City he went on to manage highly regarded wineries on Long Island, and later served as New York State’s trade liaison to the People’s Republic of China, as well as founding a hard cider company that he sold to a competitor, a brandy producer, and a highly recognized retail store specializing in NY wines. Moving to California in 2013 he served as the General Manager for Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, Martinelli Winery in the Russian River, and Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa. Currently Jim is the Managing Director of Ren Acquisition, Inc and Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate in St. Helena., the GM of Renwood Winery in Amador, and the founder of New Frontier Wine Company, a producer of Napa Cabernets crafted in association with Philippe Melka. New Frontier also imports Bordeaux, Argentinian and Uruguay wines.
Tiffany has worked in sales and hospitality for over 20 yrs. Beginning her career in retail management, she moved to follow her passion in the wine industry. Over the past 8 years as general manager of direct to consumer operations for one of the largest wineries in WA state, Tiffany has increased sales & seen the conversion of customers to club members through outstanding customer service. In addition, she has assisted in launching the Goose Ridge hard cider program and the newest venture their grape based vodka "VIDO". During her tenure she has been instrumental in opening two additional satellite locations making Goose Ridge the first winery in the state to have 4 tasting rooms and the soon to be the first winery in WA state to be able to serve vodka. Her passion & vision have helped build GR into the multi brand operation it is today.
When she isn't in a tasting room you can find her paddle boarding or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
Dale Stratton brings over 35 years of experience in the Beverage Alcohol Industry to his role as an independent consultant. Dale recently retired from Constellation Brands where he was the Vice President, Commercial Insights working across their Beer, Wine, and Spirits divisions. While at Constellation Brands he oversaw consumer and shopper insights, consumer affairs, business analytics, market research, category management initiatives and the wine sensory program. Dale’s extensive work linking consumer and shopper insights and market analysis with business objectives and strategies enable him to translate insights into action.
Dale is currently involved in projects with Azur Associates, Emetry, Wine Market Council, and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s SipSource Report.
Prior to joining Constellation Brands in 2006, Dale spent 22 years working at E&J Gallo where he began his career. During his tenure, he covered a wide range of responsibilities that included distributor management, account management, strategic insights and Lean Six Sigma. Dale has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations from Colorado State University and an Executive MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Everyday, I get to work alongside my father, Bob Tillman, and our stellar team at Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles, CA. While Bob oversees the estate Vineyard and works alongside Winemaker Molly Lonborg, I spend my days working with our small-but-mighty team to run our DTC sales and marketing efforts.
After spending my undergraduate years at New York University, and less than a year in the Bay Area after college, I moved to Paso Robles in 2008 to stall before graduate school. As it turns out a devotion to wine runs in the family. Before joining Bob full time I worked at several area wineries and learned the ropes of direct sales.
Now, our team and I run a highly successful membership, an award-winning vintage trailer campground called the Trailer Pond, Alta Colina’s social media, a by-reservation tasting room, and everything else that gets thrown our way at a small, multi-generational, family business.
Judd Wallenbrock is the CEO & President of C. Mondavi & Family and is admired by many in the wine industry. Judd is an industry leader with over 40 years of experience that includes classic packaged goods marketing management for one of the world’s leading food companies (Nestle) and world-wide marketing responsibilities for leading global wine companies. This background is complemented by his early career in retail, restaurant and sales management within the wine industry. Judd has most recently managed the revisioning of guest experiences and offerings at Charles Krug as he is instrumental in developing highly functional teams.
In addition to effectively running several wine operations, Judd has had the unique entrepreneurial experience of developing, funding and managing his own winery, Humanitas, with a philanthropic focus.
Jennifer is an industry professional with 20 years of experience, including 11 years with WISE. She began her career in the wine industry working for Lesley Berglund (Co-Founder & Chairman of WISE) at Ambrosia Wine Catalogue/The Winetasting Network shortly after completing her BA in English Literature. In her role as The Glue, Jennifer: oversees WISE Operations which includes spearheading the WISE Mystery Shopping Program (now over 5,000 shops); overseeing content development; coaching; account management of WISE wineries; oversees marketing programs; moderates WISE Cabinets; coordinates, schedules, and communicates with coaches, attendees and winery partners for a robust class schedule of 30+ courses and onsite training programs throughout California, Oregon, Washington, New York and more.
In Jennifer’s free time, she can be found with her nose buried in her Kindle or puttering in her yard. She also loves to travel, spending time with her family and friends across the globe.
Stephanie Wycoff has spent 14 years leading direct-to-consumer sales, marketing and operations for 3,000- to 130,000-case premium wineries including: Anaba, Quivira, La Follette, Torbreck, Gary Farrell, Seghesio, and Archery Summit. She leads with a collaborative approach and places strategic emphasis on brand positioning and portfolio architecture to achieve DTC revenue acceleration. Stephanie earned her MBA at Sonoma State University and is a recipient of the North Bay Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" award, in addition to holding various leadership and speaking roles at annual wine industry conferences. She resides in Sonoma County with her husband Ryan, son Ethan, and two fur babies. On special occasions you can find Stephanie in the beautiful Anderson Valley enjoying her favorite Pinot Noir on the way up to the Mendocino coast.