Field Notes: Wine Tourism Conference 2015

At the fifth annual Wine Tourism Conference in Virginia, Happiness Engineers Andrea Badgley and Marjorie R. Asturias talked about wine tourism and digital marketing with industry professionals.

Automatticians, the people who build, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.

Last week, Happiness Engineers Marjorie R. Asturias and Andrea Badgley attended the fifth annual Wine Tourism Conference in Loudoun County, Virginia. The event brings together leaders in the wine industry — from tour operators to wine bloggers — to talk about wine tourism and digital marketing (and to share a glass or two). Here’s Andrea’s account of her experience at the conference.

Vintners and tour operators from Canada, the UK, and Portugal flew into Virginia last week to connect and talk about how to reach out to wine enthusiasts and welcome them to the growers’ tasting rooms.

Tourism data or emerging markets aside, these folks are passionate about wine. They’d be crafting, drinking, and talking about it even if wine tourism weren’t a growing industry.

You know you’re in the right place when at 9 o’clock in the morning, you’re talking about wine.

— Beth Erickson, president of Visit Loudoun

Marjorie and I enjoyed meeting and connecting at a one-on-one level with the 175 conference attendees to hear their personal stories. Most proprietors we met operate small, intimate wineries, where they do all of the work, from growing the grapes to bottling the wine. The couple who owns the La Finquita winery cultivate and harvest their grapes themselves, and they even custom etch their wine bottles. Similarly, tour operators execute every aspect of their business, from booking the tours to balancing the books, and from managing the website to driving the bus. They do this work because they are passionate about it.

This passion is perfect for blogging. Everything has a story in wine tourism: the architecture of the tasting room, the land, the family, the wine. These are small businesses that feed naturally into the Go Local movement, in which customers want to meet the people who are growing and making local food and wine.

Wine tour guides and emerging wineries are small businesses. They have minimal advertising budgets, but they have fascinating stories to tell. Websites, blogs, and social networking are powerful, inexpensive tools for connecting with their customers and getting the word out about the wine and land they love so much.

Vintners poured wine and shared their stories and passion with us, and Marjorie and I were thrilled to return the favor. We talked about blogging as a guerrilla marketing tool, stressed the importance of having a website and an online presence, and even helped a local wine concierge, Vino 301, ensure her site is mobile ready. In addition, Marjorie presented a much-appreciated session on Designing Websites for 2016 and beyond, and I succumbed to the beauty of the region, taking notes for when my husband and I one day get away to explore the wineries of Virginia.

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  1. Dale Estey

    Gotta say, I wish I was on a wine tour *right *now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Leland Olson Hoel

    Thank you for the tour of the wine business and the meeting in Virginia. Small wineries are popping up all over even in the northern climates. There will no doubt be plenty of use for blogging’s sites by all of these winery’s to show and express their feelings about their own vintage wines. Alas, we simple bloggers will miss out on the tasting, ITC hasn’t worked out wine tasting on the Internet yet but I imagine it is not far off in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrei Sandu

    The U.S. certainly doesn’t have a sense of good wines. Let’s face it, all the expensive wines sold in America are french-made

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GoughPubs

    Andrea, so glad you were able to visit Virginia and learn more about our wonderful wines and wineries! Hope you can come back again soon. Cheers! (GoughPubs, aka a Virginia wine blogger)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Port Doc

    I hope to join you next year! I have a brand new wine blog, dedicated to Ports. Visit me and subscribe to updates at…I‘d love to hear from you! Thanks for an entertaining article!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Andrea Badgley

    Reblogged this on Butterfly Mind and commented:
    At the recent Wine Tourism Conference held in Loudoun County, Virginia, one speaker said, “You know you’re in the right place when at 9 o’clock in the morning, you’re talking about wine.” I’ll have to agree with her. I hope you enjoy these notes from my experience at the conference.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. pjacksone

    Wow. That sounds awesome
    Wish I could have been there

    Liked by 1 person

  8. barbwit

    I hope you had a good representation there of the many New Mexico wineries. Our best friends, Mitzi & Rick Hobson grow their grapes and make the wine at Milagro Wineries in Corrales, next door to Albuquerque. In July we took my son from Sweden there; he has been buying & selling fine wines for decades and worked as a European Wine Salesperson for many years. The Hobsons were delightful hosts and they had a great time with the family, talking sports and wine. Lovely people, and good NM wine.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. ticklemewithmoney

    Enjoyed the article. Learned something new. Did not know that Virginia had vineyards.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. daniccaa

    Such an interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. sandyleon

    Great notes! Yes, right place with wine at 9am!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. rushbabe49

    Cool. I live in the state of Washington, after California the state with the biggest wine industry. We drive over to Yakima, Tri-Cities, and Walla Walla periodically to visit the wineries. When we went to music camp there, the local wineries hosted tastings every afternoon for the adult campers. You have just given me another topic to write about on my own blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 4 people

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