The other day I was watching a travel show about regional foods and wines in Italy and felt more than a little surprised when I suddenly burst into tears. I guess I miss traveling and learning about the world a little more than I realized!
But this past week, I was able to fill that void a little with a Press Pass offered to me by the Oregon Wine Board to learn more about Oregon wines. I’ve visited almost every one of Oregon’s 19 wine regions, but this virtual experience with the 2021 version of the Oregon Wine Symposium was so educational and engaging – it’s left me wanting to visit Oregon again when the US/Canada border opens.
There were over 1,000 international participants tuned in online for this four day event which covered every aspect of vineyard to winery to consumer-related topics possible in both English and Spanish.
I attended sessions on everything from building inclusive wine workplaces, email marketing, crop cover, and climate change, to the future of wine, direct-to-consumer and e-commerce strategies, holding virtual wine experiences, and the effects of smoke on grapes. Every day ended with an online BYO wine happy hour.
The repeated assertion that the pandemic has simply accelerated changes that were going to eventually happen anyhow – and that the world will simply not be returning to pre-Covid 19 ways – was the most consistent takeaway.
Presenter after presenter made the same point – if you haven’t already, start making changes – changes in the way you grow grapes, make wine, work with your employees, market and sell to your customers, and the manner in which you steward the earth. Finesse your crisis communication and social media skills.
This symposium happened to be about wine, but the lessons learned are important for anyone growing, making any product, and marketing it to the public. Be diverse, be thoughtful, be innovative. Put people and place before profit. In short, be aspirational.
Thanks for the opportunity, Oregon Wine Symposium 2021.