Live and Learn

Industry gathers at Oregon Wine Symposium

Oregon Wine Symposium attendees can choose from four different learning tracks at this year’s event.##Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer
Dr. Greg Jones, esteemed wine climatologist, presenting his annual climatology report. ##Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer
Symposium attendee entering a mini session.##Photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer

By Bree Stock MW

The Oregon Wine Symposium has long been a cornerstone for the Oregon wine industry’s growers, makers and sales professionals. This year, the day-and-a-half-long event promises to further enhance its reputation with a stellar lineup of seminars delving into the heart of our industry. Twenty-six seminars will be presented across four tracks: the new Executive and Leadership, Enology, Viticulture, plus Sales and Marketing. The Oregon Convention Center will host these sessions, along with the popular analytical tasting seminars.

The conference begins on the main stage with a comprehensive State of the Wine Industry with leading industry sales channel experts Lesley Berglund co-founder of WISE Academy, and Danny Brager of Beverage Alcohol Consulting. The second day starts with Dr. Greg Jones, Oregon Wine Board chairman, and the return of his ever-popular climatology report, reflecting on the previous growing season and a return to an El Niño forecast for the 2024 season.

This year’s breakout sessions feature academics and practitioners from around the globe. Renowned viticulturists and sustainability experts will disclose their insights on organic farming, biodynamic practices, and the implementation of green technologies in vineyards. Dr. Bart Arnst, traveling from New Zealand, and Southern Oregon’s Dr. Garett Long will present realistic approaches to building regenerative vineyards’ systems. Attendees can expect to gain a deeper understanding of how regenerative viticulture contributes to the long-term health of the vineyards and the quality of the wines produced. With climate change posing challenges to the wine industry worldwide, the symposium recognizes the importance of addressing this issue directly. The environmental vineyard focus continues with Dr. Patty Skinkis and her Oregon Wine Board-funded research on rootstock adaptations for a changing climate.

The Enology track welcomes the analytic tastings return with a focus on how vineyard practices and decisions translate in the cellar, focusing on leafing trials with Chardonnay samples. Lingua Franca’s viticulturist Brandon Hasart and winemaker Kim Abrahams will lead the audience through the differences in fruit and wine composition from vineyard to cellar and glass. The Acid Part II session addresses responding to the complexities of site, along with exploring the relationship between soil and grape chemistry.

Tasting room and direct-to-consumer sales are expected to increase in 2024. Wine communication and terroir-focused seminars delivered by renowned geologist Dr. Scott Burns will reveal the connection between soil geology and wine flavors and style. Alice Achayo, The Wine Linguist, calls for wine lexicons that place sensory memories first and experience as its foundation. She connects industry professionals and wine drinkers to the origins of wine— agriculture and people. Direct-to-consumer, or DTC, managers are further engaged with the unveiling of important metrics for Oregon’s DTC channel with data-driven insights presented by Community Benchmarks founder, John Keleher, and Remy Sabiani of Wine Pulse.

The new Executive and Leadership track will appeal to owners and general managers with vital discussions around the State of Distribution in a contracting and economically fragile market. Experts will address the importance of meaningful professional PR and media relationships and how they can enhance successful wine and regional brand stories. Artificial intelligence is included with industry leaders’ practical applications for AI tools in growing businesses.

The Pacific Northwest wine industry’s largest tradeshow occurs throughout the symposium with over 60 vendor booths. Attend Wine America’s mini-sessions on the tradeshow floor outlining new TTB labeling rules and legislative updates. The Soirée, scheduled for February 13 on the tradeshow floor, offers an important networking gathering of industry founders, current and future leaders and the first day’s speakers.

Oregon Wine Symposium 
February 13-14
Oregon Convention Center, Portland
Tickets: $40-325

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