What follows is a listing of Keynote, Workshop and Sponsor sessions conducted at the 2019 Symposium.

Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers provide a combination of broad-based updates on the DTC marketplace as well as thought-provoking speakers — mainly from outside the wine industry–who inspire creative thinking and insights.

An Advance Preview of 2018 Wine Shipping Data

Larry Cormier, General Manager, ShipCompliant by Sovos, will share highlights from 2018 and how wineries can use the data to increase DTC sales in 2019. This presentation is a sneak peek on the widely-anticipated release of Sovos and Wines & Vines’ 2019 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report. Topics covered include: Which states are buying the most wine? What varietals, regions and price points saw growth in 2018? What can we expect in 2019?

Radical Collaboration – Designing Your Life and Your Work.  “How to make money and meaning where you work”

Bill Burnett is the Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford, Adjunct Professor Mechanical Engineering, Stanford. He has 30 years of experience of designing products that range from Apple PowerBooks to Star Wars Action figures. Additionally, he’s the author of The New York Times bestseller, Designing Your Life, How to Build a Well-lived Joyful Life. Bill’s a wine enthusiast with ties to the Pinot Noir community in Oregon. His keynote will focus on how to think and succeed with the mindset of a Life Designer. He’ll specifically address the special challenges of being in business for yourself as well as encore careers.

State of the States: A Legislative Update on DTC Legislation

Steve Gross, Vice President, State Relations for Wine Institute will present the “state of the states” legislative update. Steve’s presentation, a perennial favorite, will highlight recent wins, areas of concern, future priorities, and implications for winery compliance in 2019.

A Moving Target: Diversity for Profit

For years the wine business has focused primarily on male baby boomers as the key target for wine clubs and tourism.  Meanwhile, the economic power of women, and especially millennials, as well as consumers of color and the LGBTQ community, continues to trend upward. There’s a real and present risk to wineries’ bottom lines if these dynamics and evolving attitudes and demographics are neglected. Recognizing  that consumers are ever more diverse and demanding is critical for wineries, branding, and tasting room operations. So how can you effectively market to a broader, more diverse audience? How can inclusivity differentiate your brand from others?  How will doing so increase your return on investment? Kristi Faulkner, president of WomenKind, presents her research and recommendations.

Workshop Sessions & Town Halls

Workshop Sessions provide a practical counterpoint to the more “blue ocean” topics of our keynote speaker program. Workshop Sessions offer experience-based insights, data, and tangible ideas that can implemented immediately. Workshop Session speakers are chosen primarily from experienced professionals in wineries, wine industry suppliers and associations. And back by popular demand, the “Town Hall” open discussions on Day 2, plus a new “mini Town Hall” Round Table Networking event on Day 1.

Town Hall Discussions

Bring your questions about strategy, tactics, process, budgeting,  management — and whatever else is on your DTC mind — to these interactive town hall-style open forums, led by leaders in their field.

Town Hall Topic 1: Membership and Phone Sales. Moderator: Tammy Boatright, VingDirect

Town Hall Topic 2: Hospitality and Events. Moderator: Pamela Hiett, pH Direct Sales

Town Hall Topic 3: Email and Social Media Marketing. Moderator: Dave Moser, Sunstone Vineyards & Winery

Let’s Talk Shop: Round Table Conversations

If you’re excited to meet new people, enjoy talking shop and desire to learn more from your peers, this is where to be on Day 1!  Join us for small group discussions — organized by table — on relevant DTC topics and best practices (think, “mini Town Halls”). Get to know other wine professionals from around the country, and kick off 2019 with fresh ideas and new friends.

Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent

Recruiting and retaining top talent has never been more challenging. The traditional hiring model feels like it’s broken. How do you attract A-Players in and out of the industry? How do you remain competitive with your compensation package? How do you motivate your team and create a culture of employee engagement? Wine businesses of all scopes and sizes will benefit from the innovative strategies and techniques this panel will provide in attracting and retaining top talent.

Content Level:  Intermediate and Advanced

Moderator: Stephanie Wycoff, Estate Director, Seghesio Family Vineyards. Panelists: David Newlin, Founder & CEO, Newlin Associates; Nicole Cummings, PHR, Human Resources Director, Cakebread Cellars

Wine Clubs Reimagined

Family wineries derive the majority of their profits from wine club subscriptions, so club member retention is top of mind for owners and club managers. Additionally, we tend to treat club members as irrelevant once they cancel – but they are still engaged with wine and our brand! What can we learn about retention from successful wineries and out-of-industry subscription businesses? How do these brands engage and retain current members, and re-engage past members? Come to this session if you are ready to think differently about attrition and hear from leaders who are winning by challenging the definition of membership. Intended Audience: Owners, General Managers, Wine Club Managers, Marketing Managers

Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced

Moderator: Tammy Boatright, President, VingDirect. Panelists: Patricia O’Brien, Vice President of Sales & Operations, Danza del Sol Winery; Janiene Ullrich, Executive Vice President of DTC, The Family Coppola

Competing in the Age of Amazon

Much of what drives Amazon’s success is their relentless focus on customer service, fueled by constantly experimenting, testing, learning, and iterating in order to provide the best possible experience for their customers. How are we in the wine industry competing with the changing retail landscape and delivering speed, ease, accuracy, personalization and customization? Hear about solutions straight out of the Amazon playbook–ideas that create a culture that enhances the customer experience. Intended Audience: Tasting Room Managers, DTC Managers, Digital Marketing Managers, and General Managers looking for ways to stand out in an ever-increasing competitive environment.

Content Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Moderator: Adrienne Stillman, Marketing Director, WineDirect. Panelists:  Miryam Chae, Director of DTC, Constellation; Susan DeMatei, President, Wine Glass Marketing; Adam Ivor, Co-Founder/VP Operations, Gliding Eagle

We May be Small but we are Mighty: Small Wineries and Strategies for Success

Managing a wine club, hosting guests, doing tours, planning events and executing digital marketing – it’s demanding on even the largest of wineries. In this workshop, small wineries will share their business models, organizational structures, techniques and creative solutions for how they get it all done. Intended Audience: Tasting Room Managers, DTC Managers, Event Managers, General Managers looking for creative ways to operate a winery with a small team, or those looking to mobilize smaller works groups within a medium-to-large company.

Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Moderator: Sally Srok, Principal, Inner Compass. Panelists: Carla Jeffries, Director of Hospitality, Blue Rock Vineyards; Robert Rainwater, Director of Sales & Marketing, Amista Vineyards; Jess Zander, General Manager, Fidelitas

Staying Legal with Social Media

As social media channels become more important to DTC communications, how do you keep your social media program both effective and legal? If you re-tweet a post from a retailer or restaurant, is that considered a “thing of value” by alcohol regulators? Can you promote winemaker dinners on Facebook? What about event promotion? This session will explore legal questions, outline restrictions, and recommend guidelines to help you and your team stay legal. Intended Audience:Social media managers, marketing managers who need to understand regulatory constraints.

SpeakerTracy Genesen, Vice President and General Counsel, Wine Institute

Not Your Mother’s Marketing: Leveraging Influencers, User Generated Content, and Experiential Marketing to Drive Sales and Brand Awareness

Gone are the days when the quality of the product alone determined a brand’s success. Today, consumers rely heavily on online product reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and peers, and their own emotional triggers when making purchase decisions. This session will explore the latest successful marketing tactics and how wineries of all sizes can implement and leverage them, as well as challenges to be aware of. 

Content Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Moderator: Rhonda Motil, VP Marketing, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. Panelists: Hope Helton, Digital Marketing/Ecommerce Manager, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards; Tara Guthrie, Marketing Director, William Chris Vineyards; Lamar Engel, Owner, The Wine Militia.

Wine Tourism: Built It, Now Will They Come?

“Build it and they will come!” – well, not so much anymore. With increasing competition and a shift from wine “sampling” to “experiencing,” the tasting room landscape has changed in recent years. Getting foot traffic through the doors of your winery is more difficult than ever. In this session we discuss the current trends in tasting room traffic, how technology has changed visitor’s planning and where we can find advantageous strategic partnerships to build engagement and stand out from the crowd.

Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Moderator: Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Faculty Chair of Wine Business, Sonoma State University. Panelists: John Trant, Director of DTC Sales, Italics Winegrowers; Adrian Tamblin, CEO, Wine Routes

Driving ROI From Events

Events are terrific vehicles to create brand awareness and customer engagement, but how do you translate that into revenue? Event profitability is a challenge and executing the event often feels like more work than it’s worth. Hear how wineries large and small maximize event opportunities to drive customer engagement, drive positive social media buzz, and most importantly, drive revenue!

Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Moderator: Sandra Hess, DTC Wine Workshops. Panelists: Claire Smith, Guest Services Manager, Jordan Winery; Jim Morris, V.P., Estate Manager & Guest Relations, Charles Krug Winery; Brendan Finley VP of Hospitality and DTC Retail, Wente Vineyards; Jason Haas, Partner & General Manager, Tablas Creek Vineyard.  

Storyselling: Capturing Customers and Sales Through Narrative

Successful companies begin with a clear understanding of their brand essence and then communicate that through a compelling story at a macro level. But it can’t stop there! Breaking the narrative down into micro stories that entertain and create emotional connection is what ultimately sells products, especially luxury goods like wine. Winning brands stay true to their essence and leverage it across all customer touch points. In this session we’ll discuss the benefits of a compressed and focused wine storytelling skill set, and how to apply this to your customer experience online and onsite.

Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Moderator: Colin MacPhail, Partner, Vinfabula. Panelists: Tracy Thornsberry, Senior Brand Manager, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards; Chris Puppione, Writer/Editor, K&L Wine Merchants; Sam Schmitt, Vice President, Trade & Consumer Education, Adelsheim.

Sponsor Sessions

Sponsor Sessions provide our sponsors with a forum for more in-depth explorations of operational challenges and creative solutions than are possible in the Trade Show format. The Sponsor Sessions content is conceived and presented wholly by sponsors, but is vetted by the DTCWS Steering Committee.

Compliance Workshop Review, Presented by Wine Institute

If you didn’t get a change to attend one of the five Compliance Workshops put on by Wine Institute, Compli, and FedEx, you’re in luck!  Wine Institute and Compli will provide a condensed update to review the key takeaways from the popular workshops. In this collaborative session, you’ll learn about:

  • The recent Wayfair Supreme Court ruling and how that affects your sales tax requirements
  • How to comply with age verification rules
  • How to ensure your website is safe under the recent ADA lawsuits
  • When and how to update your licenses following a business change
  • The latest on the Federal Excise Tax changes, and more.

Content level – Intermediate, Advanced

Speakers: Annie Bones, State Compliance Specialist, Wine Institute; Jeff Carroll, Chief Product Officer, Compli; and Olivia Leigh, Director of Strategic Alliances, Compli

3 Transformational Changes Impacting the Digital Customer Experience and How to Apply them to Your DTC Program, Presented by Commerce7

Today’s modern retailers are all resetting customer experiences and expectations online.  Using technology and data to personalize their message and recommend products, these modern retailers are able to greatly increase their sales. Learn how wineries can offer more personalized online experiences and get in front future trends and demands with minimal effort.  In this session we will discuss how three transformations are impacting our industry: 

  • From ecommerce to personalized shopping experience
  • From CRM to machine learning 
  • From domestic sales to global e-commerce

Discover the ways to reset the online experience and go from an outdated e-commerce structure to a modern, personalized experience. Gain insights into how to increase customer value and establish more, longer-lasting customer relationships. Through directing data and technology outward, wineries no longer have to be traditional. 

Content level- Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Speaker: Andrew Kamphuis, Founder and President, Commerce7

Increasing Website and Tasting Room Traffic using Search Engine Optimization, Presented by Astra Digital Marketing Services

SEO matters now more than ever. With new competitors popping up in the market daily, the question becomes how does your website content break through the noise? High page-ranking search results build trust, and trust yields results, but you can’t depend on website software and developers to optimize your SEO. It all sounds great, but what are the tactics you can apply today that will make a difference for your winery? CTO of Astra Digital, Nick Billings, will walk you through the importance of SEO, how to determine your current relevance, and share best practices around what steps you can take to make an impact on your rankings to drive more qualified traffic to your site

Content level- Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Speaker: Dennis Whitaker, Manager, Marketing Technology and Operations, Astra Digital Marketing Services

Personalization Made Simple: How a single customer record can help predict customer behavior and increase sales performance. Presented by eCellar.

Today, one customer record across all channels brings hospitality to life, and can help wineries predict consumer behavior. But how is that relationship managed in real time at your winery and after that consumer is back at home? Using real life examples, CEO of eCellar Paul Thienes will demonstrate ways to optimize sales and develop closer customer relationships using consumer segmentation, customization and automated communication.  With simple solutions that involve Winery Reservation systems, wine clubs, and open-system websites, this best practices session will help your team tie it all together to sell more wine and increase club conversions both in the tasting room and after the winery visit.

Content level: Intermediate, Advanced

Speaker:  Paul Thienes, CEO, eCellar

Structuring Winery Data for DTC Marketing – A Practical Approach, Presented by Premier Cellar

Capturing and tracking customer behavior throughout their relationship with your business is essential to build marketing strategies that appeal to their unique preferences. This session will take a deeper dive into ways wineries can implement customer lifecycle marketing using simple CRM and analytics tools. Learn practical ways to:

  • Organize & Standardize Data Categories and identify meaningful input at every layer of the brand
  • How to Track Touch Points throughout the customer journey
  • Unleash the mystery of data metrics triggers and tools to employ data to increase sales
  • Understand ways to utilize Google Analytics with minimal effort
  • Build dashboards and templates with tools you have today

Content level: Intermediate, Advanced

Speaker:  Corben Ketelsen, Vice President, Premier Cellar

Understand Your Unique DTC metrics vs. Market Data—Both Quantitative and Qualitative – To Better Focus on How and Where to Best Drive More DTC Sales. Presented by WISE

Your DTC dashboard tells you WHAT is happening with your customers in your DTC channels and helps you make better data-driven decisions. Your customer listening tools (like mystery shopping, social feedback, etc.) tell you WHY your metrics are the way they are. Then, comparing your own metrics to your competitive set through industry benchmarking tools, you gain new additional perspective on where to focus your attention. Get inspired by winery DTC superstars who use the full prism of these three different perspectives to drive their DTC success.

  • What to measure that really matters
  • Why your dashboard metrics alone are not enough to drive change
  • Which actionable metrics – in light of market trends – you should most focus on

Content Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Moderator: Lesley Berglund, Chairman at WISE Academy. Panelists: Alysha Lee, Senior Manager, Hospitality at Far Niente Family of Wineries and Vineyards; Jessica Link, GM at Davis Estates; Kasey Martin DTC Program Manager at Adelaida.

Steps to Maximize the DTC Delivery Experience and Reduce Returns. Presented by FedEx and ShipCompliant by SOVOS

Are you measuring your first delivery attempt success and returns?  Are you taking advantage of promoting delivery options to your consumers to help ensure wine is successfully and safely delivered to your consumer? FedEx and ShipCompliant host this panel session focused on some of the successful delivery solutions that have been used to increase sales, ROI and customer satisfaction.  Winery partners will share best practices on how FedEx Delivery Manager and ShipCompliant’s Delivery Experience (DEX) tool have stepped up the game and made positive impacts to their business.

Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Moderators: Jerry Van Sickle, District Sales Manager, FedEx Wine Vertical; Larry Cormier, GM, ShipCompliant by SOVOS

Outsourcing DTC: Is it Right for You? Presented by VinoPro

As your winery business grows, is outsourcing direct sales and marketing activities a good fit for your business?  This panel session will dissect the key elements of outsourcing in three different DTC categories: outbound telephone sales, inbound customer service, and online marketing. The discussion will uncover lessons learned from winery business stakeholders who have leveraged outsourcing vendors to supplement sales and marketing activities.  Discussion topics will include how to assess the decision, what to look for and expect, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of outsourced services.

Content Level: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced

Moderator: Rob Lorenz, Director of Business Development, VinoPro. Panelists: Charlotte Rawa, Luxury Sales Manager, Treasury Wine Estates; Tiffany Stetson, General Manager, Direct to Consumer, Goose Ridge Vineyards; Sonyia Grabski, Vice President, Sales and marketing – Cornerstone Cellars

Stand Out from the Crowd: How to Attract the Right DTC Customers. Presented by WineDirect

With declining winery visitation becoming a more serious reality, wineries need to adopt strategies to separate themselves from the herd and rise above the noise to entice qualified visitors to  tasting rooms and e-commerce sites. Using WineDirect’s proprietary data, VP of Marketing and Business Development Jim Agger will speak to which strategies are working most effectively and present technological solutions and marketing tactics that will help wineries of all sizes move the needle.

Content Level: Beginning, intermediate, advanced

Speaker: Jim Agger, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, WineDirect