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Wine Conferences & Thoughts on Evolving Pinot Noir NZ

I recently attended Pinot Noir NZ 2013. It was a four day event in Wellington New Zealand with speakers such as Matt Kramer, Mike Bennie, Jasper Morris, Lisa Perrotti-Brown and other MW, MS and seriously technical people (hello Emmanuel Bourguignon) talking about Pinot Noir. There were about 500 delegates and at least 100 wineries attending.

 Lisa Perrotti-Brown leading a tasting at Pinot Noir NZ 2013There seem to be four types of wine conferences, workshops or gatherings:
1) the technical workshops to do with wine making, viticulture and wine marketing (like the one I’m doing soon)
2) product based gatherings which are all about winegrowers making the best product possible with experts cheering them on or providing constructive criticism
3) wine business based gatherings which incorporate how to profitably make and sell wine
4) wine drinker focused gatherings which, to quote Matt Kramer, ‘sell the dream’ as well selling the wine product via tastings

Pinot Noir NZ 2013 was a superb conference that focused on the winegrowers in the vein of type 2. It has generally been regarded as a very successful conference to which I wholeheartedly agree. The winegrowers listened to the experts advice, they showcased their wine to some of the world’s most oft-read wine writers on an individual basis for most of the day (10.45am to 5.30pm), trade parties at night meant great relationships were formed and publicity was harvested by some very professional PR and social media experts (Sarah and Angela take a bow).

And yet I wonder if an opportunity was missed

I attended Pinot Noir NZ 2007 where there were streams that split wine marketing and sales from wine growing and making. I remember a particularly powerful speech by Nigel Greening (Felton Road) about finding and communicating your story.

And a few days into Pinot 2013 there were starting to be rumblings about two things:
1) that profitability was not being discussed, “the elephant in the room” to quote Alastair Maling MW on Day 4
2) that no one was talking about what the wine drinker wanted “Oh the consumer word, everyone is dumbstruck” said Jane Skilton MW on Day 3.

Even Matt Kramer (Wine Spectator) on Day 3 was saying “we are drinking the dream, not the wine” (at which stage a winemaker behind me found he had a blocked throat). Matt went on further to say, “Above $20 a bottle we’re no longer selling wine, we’re in love with the dream”. He went on to explain how well the French had sold Burgundy as “beautiful, sweet, little stone houses, cellars, fine wine … it is a wonderful dream”.

Perhaps the next conference can have a little more about margins and consumers? Sure, keep the wine growing and making focus but perhaps provide some possible paths to winery profitability and communicating with wine drinkers.

Also perhaps provide more opportunities for drinkers outside Wellington

I also suffer from too much focus on the technical side of the other industry I am involved in, internet marketing. I can perhaps talk too much about mobile websites vs apps, about eCommerce pagination vs categorisation, duplicate content, Facebook EdgeRank, Twitter resonance … I can already hear you yawning 😉

But this industry takes conferences to a new level. Simulcast conferences leaps to mind. The most famous being TED Live, the interent access to TED Talks. TED Live provides live webstream access, chat and community forums to real world TED conferences.

In order for the conference to extend its reach to other audiences, such as business owners, sales and marketing crew and the wine drinker, I suggest Pinot Noir 2016 takes advantage of technology. It simulcasts live and allows immediate downloads of keynotes. Add in Twitter and forum chat and you have a conference that can be taken anywhere around the world.

But what about the wine tastings?

Pinot Noir NZ 2013 Lunch in the MarqueeFirstly you’d have a venue in all major markets which were satellites of the main conference, effectively mini conferences. They would have a large screen in the room that simulcast speeches and discussions, they would have tastings structured and unstructured, they would have their own local panel chaired by a respected expert to speak at times that suited the market.

Secondly each winery would have its own page where the winery gave it’s story and a tasting, then a wine celeb would give their own impression. The page would be open to discussion for all to comment on and ask questions of the winery owners. The winery page would have links to their websites, social media accounts and retailers that stocked their wine around the world.

But let’s go all Twenty Sixteen. On top of this wine drinkers could attend the conference from home. They could purchase a set of small bottles and follow along with the simulcast or downloaded speeches. Along with everyone else they could join the conference chat via Twitter.

I also love accountants

There would be topic streams for each type of attendee: finance, marketing, distribution, sommeliers, wine making, wine growing. Perhaps some would be restricted to the industry.

It’s not a replacement of a very successful conference, it’s an evolution in technology and in reach. To wine drinkers and wine marketers; to Queenstown, Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm, London, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

It is not an ephemeral four day event but a continuing discussion about Pinot Noir NZ engraved in the internet.

It’s ambitious but if you aim that high and drop short then you still have a serious evolvement of this great conference.

Have I sold the dream ;), what’re your thoughts? (Tweet #pinot2013)


  1. danica003 says:

    Wine online Singapore has gained its popularity in the market these days. There are many kinds of wines that can be encountered as you join such type of events.

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