The 2020 DTC Wine Symposium program included Keynote Speakers, Workshop Sessions, Sponsor Sessions, as well as Roundtables and Town Hall-style sessions. We have included the program, below, as reference for those considering attending the 2021 virtual conference. The Program for 2021 will be updated on the site this fall and early winter.


2020 Program

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.

Conversational Bots for Brands: How the rise of Chatbots is fueling everything from lead generation to relationship marketing.

Connect to your customers one on one and at scale. Seth Greenfield, CEO of Imperson, will present the latest developments in the Chat Bot revolution. He’ll help you understand how voice activated bot experiences on websites, smart speakers and social create opportunities to grow business and understand your customers better. Imperson develops, hosts and manages
premium enterprise chatbots for sales and marketing, proprietary conversational AI technology, and state-of-the-art bot development solutions. The company is trusted by brands including Disney, Microsoft, Amazon, National Geographic, Universal, Moet Hennessy, Jack in the Box, Hyundai and more.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road: How to Empower Your Team (and the little dog, too)

When teams are empowered, it leads to better engagement, productivity and a sense of belonging.  Take a look behind the curtain and discover how the Wizard of Oz’ key values of courage, brains and heart can help you lead your teams to success. Speaker: Saretta Brown, Master Trainer, Dale Carnegie Institute.

Where the DTC Market is Trending

This Keynote will provide a comprehensive overview of the entire DTC market, where it’s headed and why. Larry Cormier, vice president and general manager of Sovos Shipcompliant will be joined by Andrew Adams, editor of the Wine Analytics Report, to preview key findings in the to-be-published 2020 DtC Wine Shipping Report including critical DTC metrics and new findings on the consumers fueling DTC sales growth.

State of the States: A Legislative Update 

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 2020.

Real Wine Consumers in Real Time

From CRM systems to winery events, and from social media strategies to pricing incentives, we are all trying to form relationships with our consumers that will succeed. This moderated focus group of knowledgeable wine consumers will give us their thoughts and feedback on what marketing works and what doesn’t. We’ll ask the questions you want to know: How do you choose your wine clubs? What constitutes a fantastic winery visit? What motivates you to buy? And to continue to buy? In other words, we’re going to ask the questions and get the answer to: How do you get on the consumer’s “list”?


Workshop Sessions, Town Halls and Round Tables


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, and the return of the Round Table Networking format first introduced in January 2019.

Passport Events Evolved

Passport-style events can seem like an endless line of consumers that is exhausting and challenging to make profitable. In this session, you will hear from industry experts who execute Passport to Dry Creek Valley, the original and gold standard of Passport-style events. Hear about best practices gleaned through years of secret shopper reports and learn how top wineries leverage the event to market their brand and drive sales. Intended Audience: Hospitality/Event Managers, DTC Managers, Marketing Managers, Owners/GMs. Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate. Speakers: Ann Petersen, Executive Director, Dry Creek Valley Winegrowers Association (Moderator). Speakers: Debra Mathy, Proprietor, Dutcher Crossing Winery; Robert Conard, Director of Hospitality, Dry Creek Vineyards; Robert Rainwater, Director of Sales and Marketing, Amista Vineyards.

Leveraging 3-Tier to Drive DTC Success 

Historically the 3-Tier and DTC channels have operated independently, sometimes even viewing each other as competition. But in reality there are many opportunities for a symbiotic relationship between the two. A collaborative relationship is imperative. This session will share real examples of effective strategies that benefit both 3-tier and DTC, as well as how to effectively overcome objections and obstacles. This Workshop is geared towards a range of audience members — from young brands just starting out to established brands still working through these complex relationships. Intended Audiences: DTC Managers, Hospitality/TR Managers, Marketing Managers, Owners/GMs. Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. Speakers: Christopher Pappe, Founder, CRP Wine Trade Solutions (Moderator). Panelists: Jason Haas, Partner & General Manager, Tablas Creek Vineyard – Paso Robles; Cheryl Murphy Durzy, CEO and founder, LibDib and Mobile Wine Distribution; and Jake Krausz, Estate Director, Arkenstone – Howell Mountain. 

Generational Marketing, Targeting & Segmentation  

With increasing attention paid to capturing the Millennial market, a still highly engaged Baby Boomer audience, and a generation of X’ers that may have been forgotten, how can wineries approach product development, customer relations management, communications and marketing to appeal to the inherent generational differences of these audiences? Hear from a panel of experts who are segmenting their audience and how they have changed the way they interact with them based on their generational psychographics. Intended Audience: Marketing/Digital Managers, Brand Managers, DTC Managers, Owners/GMs. Content Level: Intermediate, Advanced. Speakers: Justin Noland, Sr. Marketing Manager DTC, Wente Vineyards (Moderator). Panelists:  Rhonda Motil, VP Marketing, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines; Jenny Keller Yesilevskiy, Social Media Manager, Rodney Strong Wine Estates.

Digital Marketing: Using Social Media and Digital Ads to Move the Needle

The wine business is a very competitive marketplace. To grow retail traffic and e-commerce sales, forward-thinking wineries must consider powerful tools now available, and to use them wisely. This panel will instruct the audience how to use social media and other proven digital tools to drive DTC sales as well as expand customer audiences. We will include detailed examples/case studies of successful digital strategies that have been used at multiple wineries as well as outside of the wine industry, using a mix of social media and retargeting tools. Intended Audience: Marketing/Digital Managers, Brand Managers, DTC Managers. Content Level: Intermediate, Advanced. Speakers: Laura Perret Fontana, Digital Marketing Consultant (Moderator). Speakers:  Tamara Bingham, Marketing Manager, Jackson Family Wines; Camille Guimaraes, Brand Manager, Gundlach Bundschu Winery; Taylor Eason, Founder, Cork and Fork Digital Media.

Is the Traditional Tasting Room the Next “Blockbuster”?

The internet didn’t kill the video store, and e-commerce isn’t killing tasting room wine sales. Or is it? Consumer purchases are increasingly occurring online, tasting room visitation is reportedly declining in many established wine regions, and it’s never been more challenging to find good, affordable staff. Are tasting rooms back to running more as a marketing expense than a profit center? This panel with provide a lively discussion considering the future of the traditional tasting room and share practical advice to grow your DTC business.  Intended Audience: Tasting Room Managers, DTC Managers, Finance Managers, Owner/GMs.  Content Level: Intermediate, Advanced. Speakers: Colin MacPhail, Founder, Vinfabula (Moderator). Panelists: Chris Puppione, Director of Sales & Hospitality, Passalacqua Winery; John Keleher, CEO & Founder, Community Benchmark.

Customer Service in the Digital Age

With customer expectations higher than ever, smartphones always at our fingertips, and convenience trumping all else, consumers expect more ways to interact with a company than just phone and email. Digital tools such as live chat, chatbots, SMS messaging and help widgets are becoming commonplace amongst many retailers. But what is the best choice and what considerations need to be made from an operations standpoint for wineries? In this session,  you’ll hear from two industry experts who have implemented several of these tools at their brands, how they landed on the tools that were right for them, and the impact on their business.  Intended Audience: DTC Managers, Digital Managers, Hospitality Managers.  Content Level: Advanced. Speakers: Laurie Millotte, Chief Amazement Officer, Outshinery (Moderator). Panelists: Ed Feuchuk, VP Marketing, Farm Collective Napa Valley; Miryam Chae, Director of DTC, Constellation.

Finding Success in Wine Club Growth

Membership programs provide a sustainable revenue stream which means club conversion is paramount to a winery’s success. How do wineries differentiate their club, achieve a competitive advantage, and continue to grow? In this session speakers will share tangible, repeatable, and adaptable strategies to achieving strong membership sign-ups. Intended Audiences: Wine Club Managers, Tasting Room Managers, DTC Managers. Content Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. Speakers: Dave Moser, Director of Sales & Marketing, Sunstone Vineyard (Moderator). Panelists: Maggie Tillman, Co-Owner, Alta Colina Winery; Jordan Bass, Senior Director, Justin Winery.  

Staying Legal in a Digital World

As social media channels become more important to DTC communications, keeping your social media program both effective and legal are critical for compliance and success. In this annual update we will explore legal questions, outline restrictions and recommend guidelines to help you and your team stay legal online. Intended Audience: All audiences.  Content Level: All audiences. Speaker: Tracy Genesen, Vice President and General Counsel, Wine Institute.

Hospitality & The Experience Overload 

Are we becoming too focused on blowing people’s minds with new “experiences” and have we lost sight of the value in simply providing quality products and customer service? Does wine now need to be enjoyed in a poolside cabana or swinging from a trapeze? When is great hospitality just delivering impeccable service consistently, and when is it a unique and transcendent experience? This session will explore different approaches to creating new  wine tasting experiences as well as how to deliver exceptional, albeit traditional, service.  Intended Audience: Hospitality/TR/Event Managers, DTC Managers, Marketing Managers, Owners/GMs. Content Level: Intermediate. Speakers: Colin MacPhail, Founder, Vinfabula (Moderator). Panelists: Reka Haros, Founder, Reframe Wine; Louis Calli, Co-Founder, The Find: A Wine Country Experience; Kim Stemler, Executive Director, Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association.

Send Better Email

Email marketing is the single best way to drive online wine sales and continues to be an under-leveraged channel in the wine industry. We may know we should be sending email, but knowing where to start can be challenging. The good news is, great email marketing is accessible to wineries of all sizes and budgets. In this session speakers will share successful strategies and tactics they have implemented to drive DTC sales by sending better emails. Intended Audience: DTC Managers, Marketing/Digital Managers, Brand Managers, Wine Club Managers.  Content Level: Intermediate. Speakers:Adrienne Stillman, Marketing Director, Wine Direct (Moderator). Panelists: Erica Walter, Chief Words Officer, Erica Walter Writes; Patty Ross, Founder, California Wine Marketing; Brendan McVeigh, Director of Digital Marketing, Crimson Wine Group.

Putting It All Together: Choosing and Optimizing Your Marketing Channels Based on the Customer Journey

You have a website, a social media presence, some boosted posts, and a few emails to your customers – but how do you use them together, and how often, and how much do you spend? The key to an effective marketing strategy is to create compelling content that speaks to your targeted audience based on their progress through the sales funnel. This experienced panel will walk you through the customer’s journey and provide pointers on choosing the best target audience, the right channel and the most effective messaging. Through case studies and examples of proven digital campaigns, you will learn actionable strategies that you can put into practice right away.  Intended Audience: Marketing/Digital Managers, Brand Managers, DTC Managers. Content Level: Advanced. Speakers: Susan DeMatei, Wine Glass Marketing (Moderator). Panelists; Shana Bull, Digital Storyteller, Shana Bull Digital Marketing and Social Relations; Simon Solis-Cohen, Founder, Highway 29 Creative.


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. This year we have two separate Town Halls:

Town Hall #1: The Future of Tasting Rooms. Explore critical themes regarding the future of the American tasting Room including: right-sizing the experience for the brand; creating communities; salon vs. bar, and tasting room incentives. Moderator: Sandra Hess, Founder, DTC Wine Workshops.

Town Hall #2: People’s Choice Topics. You decide the topics for this Town Hall session. Using innovative software tool, Slido, we will poll the audience for suggested topics to discuss with your peers. Moderator: Brian Baker, General Manager, Mayacamas Vineyards.


If you’re excited to meet new people and learn from your peers, the Round Table format is for you! Join us for small group discussions, organized by table, on relevant topics and best practices. Kick off 2020 with fresh ideas and new friends. Specific topics: Tipping, Urban Tasting Rooms, Hiring, Customer Segmentation, the Customer Funnel, and the Art of Storytelling. Moderators: Liz Mercer, WISE Academy; Sharon Goldman; Sonyia Grabski, GM, Trinitas Cellars; Galen Drace, DTC Manager, Stony Hill Vineyard; Chris Grossman, DTC Manager, Chateau Montelena Winery; Barbara Gorder, President, Undisclosed Location.


Sponsor Sessions


Sponsor Sessions provide our sponsors with a forum for more in-depth explorations of operational challenges and sharing 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. Topics and speakers to be announced.

The Modern Consumer: Strategies for Attracting New Buyers

Who is the modern consumer and how do they want to buy? How do they plan their travel? Where can you meet them online? And how can you get them to choose your winery over the increasingly stiff and numerous competition? As direct-to-consumer sales continue to grow, challenges to success abound, from declining tourism in some regions, to new wineries popping up every day, and the ongoing pressure from ecommerce giants like Amazon. To address all these issues, WineDirect has curated a panel of consumer and ecommerce experts with deep experience in wine, luxury apparel and travel to share their insights into how you can attract new buyers, and turn them into loyal customers. Speakers: Adrienne Stillman, Director of Marketing, WineDirect (Moderator). Panelists: Jim Agger, VP Sales & Marketing, WineDirect; Carrie Welch, COO, Vivino; Kathryn Cornell, Director of Content Strategy, TripAdvisor; Matt Schow, CMO & Ecommerce Leader.

What Does a Club Look Like in 2020, presented by Commerce7

In 2020, why should a user-choice club be limited to customizable product selection? Allowing members to choose club frequency, delivery date, and other aspects of their club are all customer-centric ways of creating an even greater club experience. Discover key insights into how brands are building their clubs to drive customer experience and revenue in 2020. Intended Audience: Club Managers, DTC Managers. Speaker: Andrew Kamphius, CEO, Commerce7.

Why Millennials Hate Your Website, presented by NewTimer Marketing

Small gaps in your website strategy appear as huge chasms to Millennials, a group who have been digitally connected since birth. They have no memory of Web 1.0 or Netscape Navigator, and expect seamless web experiences. In this session, Newtimer Marketing’s industry experts will help you identify and close gaps in your website experience to best communicate your winery’s unique value, engage your customers, and sell more wine. Intended Audience: Owners/GMs, Marketing/Digital Managers, DTC Managers. Content Level: Intermediate & Advanced.  Speakers: Martial Chaput, Founder, NewTimer Marketing; Miles Cotton, Partner, NewTimer Marketing.

DTC Compliance Hot Topics, presented by Avalara

2019 was a significant year from a regulatory standpoint. From the Supreme Court’s major ruling in the Tennessee Wine case to the last-minute scramble to get the excise tax cuts from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act extended, several developments are worth watching closely in 2020. Three industry experts will cover an array of hot topics that will help attendees understand the compliance landscape and minimize risks to their DTC business. Topics: Tennessee Wine Supreme Court Case, California ABC Updates and Advisories, Texas ABC DTC Audits, California Consumer Privacy Act, California Subscription Renewals, Pending DTC Litigation and Wine Retailer Direct Shipping, and Compliance Q&A.
Intended Audience: Owners, compliance managers, DTC managers, accounting, legal. . Supreme Court case, ADA Compliance, compliance best practices. Intended audience: Owners, compliance managers, DTC managers, accounting. Speakers: Jeff Carroll, GM, Beverage Alcohol, Avalara (Moderator). Panelists: Carrie Bonnington, Partner, Pillsbury Law; Matt Botting, General Counsel, California ABC.

Top 5 DTC Digital Trends to Sip and Savor, presented by Astra Digital 

Get tools to make an impact on the digital presence of your winery now! Focus on the latest significant global digital marketing trends and actionable takeaways for the DTC sector of the wine industry. Learn how you can leverage Facebook, Reviews, SEO, and SEM all with your current data and demonstrate trackable ROI for your winery. Leave with action items you can implement for your winery today. Speakers: Ryan Neergaard, Director of Business Development, Astra Digital;  Ron Scharman, CEO, Astra Digital.

Mastering Sales Coaching, presented by WISE Academy

You have hired a great team. You have onboarded them. You have trained them. Now what? Your job as “sales coach” is only just beginning . . .How much focus have you put on raising your own game as a leader? What are you doing to establish and maintain a thriving, performance culture for your team? How to use sales coaching to leverage your investment in standards-based training alive? Using our adaptive leadership approach – where coaching meets the Platinum Rule – WISE will share our sales coaching framework to help you keep your team focused, your customers engaged and your metrics soaring. Our expert winery panel will share real life winery examples of the pitfalls and breakthroughs to developing sales coaching mastery. Speakers: Lesley Berglund, Chairman, WISE Academy; John Morris, Tasting Room Manager, Tablas Creek Vineyard; Myriah Murtux, Director of Hospitality at Hall St. Helena; Jennifer Warrington, The Glue at WISE Academy