2021 Wine Media Conference Agenda
All sessions will take place at the Valley River Inn in Eugene unless otherwise indicated.
Monday – Thursday, August 2 – 5
Pre-Conference Excursions: We are working with the Oregon Wine Board to offer three pre-conference excursions in the state. These excursions give attendees the opportunity to have an in-depth look at other wine regions outside the Eugene area. Please note registration is closed for all excursions.
Thursday, August 5
4:00 – 6:30 PM Registration (Willamette Foyer)
4:30 – 6:30 PM Welcome Reception & Expo (Willamette West): Come join Travel Lane County for an opening reception with small bites and wines from the local area. Combined with wines served by our sponsors and partners, this will be a fantastic way to open the conference, meet old friends, and make new ones.
Friday, August 6
Breakfast on Your Own
8:30 AM – 5:55 PM Registration (Willamette Foyer)
9:00 – 9:15 AM Official Conference Opening with Allan Wright (Willamette West)
9:15 – 9:30 AM Introduction to Eugene (Willamette West): Kari Westlund from our main partner Travel Lane County will tell us a bit about Eugene, including its role as home to the University of Oregon, fame as Track Town USA, and its status as an agricultural, craft beer, and winery city.
9:30 – 9:45 AM Communications from the Oregon Wine Board (Willamette West): Hear from Communications Director Sarah Murdoch with an update on the Oregon wine industry, including good story angles for wine writers.
9:45 – 10:30 AM Opening Keynote with Cyril Penn (Willamette West): Cyril Penn has spent almost 20 years in the wine industry as an editor at Wine Business Monthly and has spent his career engaged with the wine industry, professional wine writers, and bloggers. We will hear Cyril’s thoughts on wine writing in the modern age.
10:30 – 10:45 AM Break
10:45 – 11:30 AM Breakout Sessions (choose one of two)
- Independent Wine Media in the Post-COVID World: How Wineries, Regions, and Content Creators Can Effectively Collaborate (Willamette East): 2020 was the year the wine business changed. Restaurants and Tasting Rooms were closed. Digital direct sales became dominant. Racial and sexual discrimination in the industry was exposed. In this New Normal, Content Creators have never had a better opportunity to grab a seat at the table. Learn practical tips and methods to help you make that leap! The industry has never needed us more! Presentation by Austin Beeman.
- Managing Yourself as a Business: Put on your cape! (Willamette Middle): This session will include important business basics (legal and financial), points on how to market one’s own work, and goal-setting tips & tricks to keep you on the path to growth. Presented by Christine Deussen, Deussen Global Communications, Inc.
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Lunch on Your Own
1:00 – 2:00 PM Advice from Professional Media (Willamette West): Learn from veteran, expert wine media Chasity Cooper, Jill Barth, and Melissa Dowling from Cheers with moderator Frank Morgan who will expound on establishing a niche, identifying your community, equitable journalism practices, building trust with your readers, mastering social media, and connecting with brands or wineries.
2:00 – 2:15 PM Break
2:15 – 3:15 PM Discovery Sessions: Taste wines and learn in depth about a specific region of the world from our sponsors. (choose one of two)
- DOC delle Venezie, discovering the revolution of Italian-style Pinot Grigio (Willamette East): The Triveneto area in Italy is the place in the world where Pinot Grigio thrives and gives its best. Delle Venezie DOC is the new Italian appellation to guarantee the high quality standard of Pinot Grigio from that specific area. Discover the terroir, the styles and the Italian creativity behind the most popular still white wine in the U.S with Laura Donadoni, wine journalist and educator, brand ambassador for Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio’s association in the U.S.
- Union Des Vines Doux De Bordeaux (Willamette Middle): These golden wines made on the banks of the Garonne River are some of the most labor-intensive, complex, and food-friendly in the world. This Discovery Session explores the history of winemaking with botrytis, also known as noble rot, and the range of styles produced in these singular regions in Bordeaux. Tasting several examples along the way, this session will debunk long-held myths around sweet wines and offer some chic new ideas on how to enjoy them.
3:15 – 3:30 PM Break
3:30 – 4:15 PM Breakout Sessions (choose one of two)
- Podcasts and Livestreams and Zoom, Oh My! (Willamette East): Video didn’t kill the wine media star; it only made her more influential! Join veteran podcasters and video content creators Chris Kern and Jason “Stub” Stubblefield from the One Bourbon, One Chard, or One Beer podcast for a rollicking overview of some of the most popular audio and video platforms for wine media members, how to get up and running quickly (and inexpensively) on them, and the best practices to know and pitfalls to avoid when moving your content from the page to the screen or speaker.
- New Ways of Approaching Wine Writing and Getting Paid (Willamette Middle): It is not all about reviews, ratings and obvious topics. Hear from a 25-year-veteran of the wine writing business to understand how important news and legal coverage can be for our business. Drilling down on the most important issues in the wine business today can make your coverage more relevant than ever before. It can also attract the attention of editors who are inundated by puff-piece pitches. Learn how to price your writing, why not to write on spec and how to negotiate to become a part of a magazine, or newspaper’s, stable of contributors. Our speaker is Liza Zimmerman.
4:15 – 5:00 PM Live Wine Social – White/Rosé (Willamette West): Live Wine Social (previously Live Wine Blogging) is the signature event of the conference but will be adapted in 2021 due to COVID protocols. Wineries will each have five minutes to address the entire audience while attendees are tasting their wine. Attendees will evaluate the wine, take notes for later posts, and post on social media live about the wines they taste. This is the fastest, most fun event at the conference. Wineries, please see our Sponsorship opportunities page for details on pouring.
5:00 – 5:30 PM Live Wine Social: Meet the Wineries (Willamette West): Stick around after Live Wine Social to spend time with our wineries, have a second taste of your favorites, and mingle before we depart for this evening’s main event.
6:00 – 9:00 PM Dinner Excursions (Offsite): Half the group will attend each event, pre-registration is required, and the event is included in your registration.
- Dinner at Pfeiffer Winery: Pfeiffer Winery is considered the “Gem of the South Willamette Valley.” A pioneer vineyard, it was planted 1984 with five varieties. Founders Robin and Danuta Pfeiffer welcome you with live music in their lush, flower-filled, shady Water Garden with four ponds, streams, and waterfalls. Enjoy stuffed burgers, and a private wine tasting of their award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris in the Grand Fireplace Pavilion. This rustic elegant experience will treat you to all the best the Willamette Valley has to offer! We will depart at 5:20 PM and return around 10:00 PM.
- Wine Country Urban Experience: Explore Eugene’s growing urban wine scene on this exciting city excursion. We’ll taste outstanding wines from Bennet Vineyards, J. Scott Cellars, King Estate, Pfeiffer Winery, Sweet Cheeks Winery, and more from throughout the South Willamette Valley Wine region. Be some of the first to experience outdoor summer night dining on local fare in Eugene’s vibrant, newly opened Market Alley, an expansion of the ever-popular 5th Street Public Market and connected to The Gordon, Eugene’s newest hotel, an art-centric property where creativity and hospitality come together. Come explore Eugene’s newest scene and see why the Willamette Valley is one of the world’s best wine and food regions. We will depart at 5:40 PM and return around 9:30 PM.
Saturday, August 7
Breakfast on Your Own
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM Registration (Willamette Foyer)
9:00 – 9:45 AM Breakout Sessions (choose one of two)
- Creating Community: Leveraging Your Social Media (Willamette East): To fully harness the power and possibility of digital content, we begin by breaking it into its two key origins — social & media — and look at how to use user-generated content to create a community around your branded causes. Presented by Brett Rawson, Washington State Wine Commission.
The Art of Storytelling for the Wine Industry (Willamette Middle): A session for writers of meaningful and engaging content. For many wineries, the story of place and people is as important as the profiles of the wine they produce. But what really matters to readers and wine buyers? In this session, we’ll sharpen your storytelling skills for any audience or writing opportunity. Topics will include: choosing an angle, determining sources, and interviewing tips. We’ll touch on the best ways to capture place and setting with your words and how to approach fresh topics to pitch to editors or enhance your own publication. As a bonus, we’ll build a 5-minute resume that captures why you are the person to tell the story. Presented by Jill Barth.
9:45 – 9:50 AM Break
9:50 – 10:35 AM Breakout Sessions (choose one of two)
- Photography Tips for Making Your Wine Blog Pop (Willamette East): Learn how to make your wine blog more interesting through the use of creative and story-telling photography. Focus will be on how to create thoughtful and crisp vineyard, winemaker/owner, and winemaking process images. Presented by George Rose, George Rose Photography.
- Take your Instagram to the Next Level (Willamette Middle): Learn the tips and tricks of Instagram to increase your following and engagement. Get your profile noticed through polls, Ask Me sessions, live streaming and social media takeovers. Presented by Scott Fish, 32° digital.
10:35 – 10:45 AM Break
10:45 – 11:30 AM Breakout Sessions (choose one of two)
- Personal Branding On Social Media for Wine Writers (Willamette East): This session will dive into top level strategies of defining your own professional brand as a content creator: gaining clarity on your passion, purpose, and niche; identifying your target audience; and creating laser-focused content that will attract loyal readers and followers on social media. Best practices for building a robust Instagram following will also be covered. Presented by Sarah Tracey, The Lush Life. More information about Sarah and her session.
- Digital Marketing for Wine Media (Willamette Middle): Pretty much every business and everyone involved in business has to be good at marketing, and that includes wine media and wine bloggers. We will discuss why digital marketing is important for wine media and how to decide which areas of digital marketing warrant your time. Topics to be covered include SEO, social media, email marketing, and content management. Our presenter is previous wine blogger, longtime WMC attendee, and now owner of Balzac Communications, Mike Wangbickler.
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Lunch on Your Own
1:00 – 2:00 PM Oregon Sparkling Wine: Business Up Front, Party in the Back (Willamette West): Think Oregon is all about prim Pinot Noir and straitlaced Chardonnay? Guess again. There’s a party in the back, and it’s Oregon Sparkling Wine! Moderator L.M. Archer and panelists Christine Clair of Willamette Valley Vineyards, Jessica Thomas from Sweet Cheeks Winery and Craig Camp of Troon Vineyards discuss the Oregon sparkling wine’s unique history, terroir, and styles.
2:00 – 2:05 PM Break
2:05 – 3:05 PM Discovery Sessions: Taste wines and learn in depth about a specific region of the world from our sponsors. (choose one of two)
- Le Marche, the “new Tuscany” in Central Italy (Willamette East): Join us as we discover the beauty and the diversity of Marche grapes, wines and territory. Le Marche is a hidden gem in the heart of central Italy, an up and coming wine region, similar in climate and geography to Tuscany, but much more diverse and intriguing. Tiziana Forni, Velenosi brand ambassador, wine expert, and Le Marche region local will guide you through the highlights of this region, through the wines of one of Le Marche top producers, Velenosi Winery. The masterclass will cover the main Marche denominations and will include a tasting of many indigenous varieties and styles.
- Consorzio di Tutela dei Vini d’Abruzzo (Willamette Middle): Located between the Adriatic Sea and Gran Sasso and Majella mountain ranges, Abruzzo is one of the continent’s most natural winemaking regions, with more than 30% of its land protected by National Parks and nature preserves. It is also naturally suited for viticulture, producing crisp white wines from idigenous grapes like Pecorino, and the famed Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This Discovery Session will focus on the stunning landscape, singular geography and main varieties of Abruzzo.
3:05 – 3:20 PM Break
3:20 – 4:05 PM Lightning Talks (Willamette West): This is the opportunity to hear from your fellow attendees. We will have eight speakers, each of whom will have five minutes to present on a subject that is near to their heart. The catch is each speaker has to use 20 slides that are set to auto-rotate every 15 seconds, which keeps the talks fast and fun. Not only that, this is toward the end of the conference and after some earlier wine tasting, so the event should be fun and a bit rowdy!
4:05 – 4:15 PM Conference Wrap-up & Thank-yous (Willamette West)
4:15 – 5:00 PM Live Wine Social – Red (Willamette West): Live Wine Social (previously Live Wine Blogging) is the signature event of the conference but will be adapted in 2021 due to COVID protocols. Wineries will each have five minutes to address the entire audience while attendees are tasting their wine. Attendees will evaluate the wine, take notes for later posts, and post on social media live about the wines they taste. This is the fastest, most fun event at the conference. Wineries, please see our Sponsorship opportunities page for details on pouring.
5:00 – 5:30 PM Live Wine Social: Meet the Wineries (Willamette West): Stick around after Live Wine Social to spend time with our wineries, have a second taste of your favorites, and mingle before we officially close this year’s conference.
Sunday – Monday, August 8 – 9
Post-Conference Excursions: We are working with the Oregon Wine Board to offer three post-conference excursions in the state. There will be a small additional registration cost and attendees are responsible for their own hotel but winery visits, tastings, and most meals are included. Please note registration is closed for all excursions.
- South Willamette Valley (August 8)
- Yamhill Carlton (previously the North Willamette Valley) (August 8)
- Mount Hood and Columbia Gorge AVA (August 8 – 9)