I am writing this from the airport in Milan at the end of the 2022 Wine Media Conference, which took place September 29 – October 1 in Lombardy on the shores of Lake Garda.
My overall impressions of the conference were:
- Hospitality: Our Italian hosts and sponsors from Europe and beyond did an amazing job welcoming our group. Led by Ascovilo, the umbrella organization representing 13 wine regions in Lombardy, our participants were wowed by the combination of warmth and professionalism we received. The highlights of the event were probably the sit-down formal dinner in the Museo Rambotti and the stand-up dinner reception in the Castle of Desenzano, both of which were open only to our group.
- Unique Wine Regions: The conference of three days was greatly expanded for most attendees by the three pre-conference and three post-conference excursions to different wine regions in Lombardy. Having attended three excursions focused on four separate regions, my conclusion is that Lombardy should be much better known for as a wine tourism destination. What I found unique is that each region had its own specialty (sweet reds in Moscato di Scanzo, roses in Valtènesi, etc) and this made for the amazing ability to have vastly different experiences only tens of kilometers apart.
- Delicious Wines: Wow. We tasted so many interesting wines this past week and I heard over and over again from attendees how impressed they were. My favorite tasting was 50 rose wines from Valtènesi laid out on tables for our small excursion group!
- Smaller & More Intimate Group: Speaking of small, this was a key characteristic of the 2022 conference. We were limited by COVID protocols in our ballroom but also by the fact that some of our regular attendees wouldn’t or couldn’t travel to Italy. In fact, the intimate group was fun and allowed us to create better relationships with more people than at our larger conferences.
As I sit here writing this waiting for my flight, I find myself filled with conflicting emotions. I am sad to have left the “group bonding” we experienced in Italy and to know I won’t see many of this group for another year. I am still riding a high of happiness from all the great times we shared. And I feel a sense of belonging with the wine community in Lombardy, which was so welcoming to me that handshakes quickly turned into hugs as we progressed through the conference.