2014 Speakers – 2014 Georgia

6th International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop, Tbilisi (29 –30 March 2014) 

The conference programme offered many opportunities for both commercial and professional contact. It involved a 2 day programme of over 30 talks, workshops, panel discussions and wine tastings

The distinguished speakers at the IWINETC 2014 can be found here together with the title of their talk included in the conference programme. Speaker notes can be found at the end of each speaker profile:

Aleš Gačnik

Ethnologist and sociologist of culture Aleš Gačnik is assistant professor, PhD and a head of Department of Cultural Tourism and Cultural Heritage on a Faculty of Tourism Studies – Turistica, University of Primorska, Slovenia. He graduated from Winology - as a new research methodology in the exploration of the wine heritage and culture. He holds a Ph.D. from the new concepts in the field of of protection, research, communication and development of heritage. As a researcher, developer and professor he exploring the culinary and wine culture, wine and gastronomy tourism, inventions and innovations in the field of cultural tourism, part of which is a wine tourism too.

During the management of a small, boutique art & heritage hotel, he organized around 130 events related to the heritage, art and culture of wine. He was the editor in chief and publisher of the book Culture of wine in Slovenia (Dušan Terčelj): the book has got in 2009 Award of the International Office of Wine (OIV) in Paris for the best book in the world in the field of wine literature (category: history, literature, art). He is a member of Word Federation of Travel Journalist and Writers (FIJET) and a member of the international gastronomic association Chaîne des Rôtisseurs ... For his work he received several national and international awards.

Aleš together with Marijan Močivnik delivered a talk titled:

Wine Tourism "Boom" / The Phenomenon of Wine Queens in Slovenia

Like elsewhere in the world, wine tourism in Slovenia is relatively young type of of tourism. Over the past two decades we can follow to the development of an extremely interesting Wine Queens phenomenon – at different levels: national, regional, local and on the level of selected grapes varieties. They are connected in the newly established Slovenian wine Kingdom.

Institution of Wine Queen of Slovenia is responsible for the promotion of Slovenian wines, viticulture and of Slovenia as a wine country too. They are spreading the culture of cultivation, care and culture of wine consumption. Across the globe they representing Slovenian tourism, cultural heritage and specially a local, regional and national wine culture. Therefore it is important, which girl will be selected in a public tender for the Wine Queen of Slovenia by a special committee. In 2014 will be chosen already the eighteenth Wine Queen of Slovenia. Over the last decade, we also get more regional and local Wine Queens, which communicate selected wine region or local community. We also have some Wine Queens, who are the ambassadors of certain grape varieties.

At the lecture will be presented a historical and cultural context, protocol, fashion, typology and mission of Wine Queens and specially their communicational role, »power« and influence on the development and promotion of wine tourism.

In vino veritas?

Get the speaker notes here>>

Allison Markin

Allison Markin has nearly twenty years of experience in communications, having worked in the worlds of marketing, media relations, crisis communications and writing. She is an early adopter of social media and brings her years of skills in traditional media to the new frontier of online engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote. She is a strategic thinker and storyteller, an avid community volunteer, loves to teach and tell the story of how All She Wrote began with a single tweet: "Will work for wine."

Allison has worked in many sectors, from the arts to municipal government, to higher education; her focus has turned to developing online engagement plans in the food, wine and tourism sectors, while continuing to develop partnerships with the potential to boost economic development across her client base.

She has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 25,000, frequently writes and blogs about social media, food and wine, and in her spare time is pursuing her professional designation as a sommelier. Through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating a whopping 31 million online impressions in a mere three days, placing BC wine country and the Okanagan solidly on the world map of wine destinations not to be missed.

All She Wrote is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, and an International LERN award for marketing for Eat.Drink.Tweet., an innovative seminar concept that combines social media with food and wine.

Allison together with Erin Korpisto delivered a talk titled:

Wine Tourism in British Columbia: Small Wine Region, Big Visitor Impact

A practical case study, presented as a 30-minute talk, on how to use the digital world to create real-life visitor engagement, attendees will learn the history and planning behind the Okanagan's drive to use social networks to target digital media, bloggers, and content generators to visit this emerging wine region, becoming champions of BC wine and driving visitor traffic.

Presenter Allison Markin partnered with local, regional and provincial destination marketing organizations to attract the (North American) Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton, BC in 2013: three years of online engagement and real-life lobbying brought the conference to Canada for the first time, generating more than 30 million social media impressions in less than three days. Allison will discuss how to identify strategic partners, create local buzz, identify influential bloggers, and build online relationships that translate into real-life visits and economic impact, using the Wine Bloggers Conference as an example. The session will finish with an outline of how the Okanagan region is working together to keep the momentum from this one event moving forward and growing, continuing to attract both new and repeat visitors.


Tour operators and tourism agencies will benefit from this case study, learning practical tips to work together to create a vibrant virtual community that brings real visitors to their region, large or small, established or emerging.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Ashika Mathews

I trained as a winemaker and did a harvest in Rioja at CVNE and Contino before managing a 10ha property in Bordeaux for 3 vintages. Then I returned to the UK and ran the IWC, I worked for Jancis Robinson for 2 years before becoming a wine buyer for a large on-trade wholesaler before becoming a fine wine buyer / trader. I now have my own wine school organising events, tastings, courses and trips - and I am a WSET accredited teacher to Level 3.

Ashika delivered a talk titled:

A Lasting Impression

Although it is easy to seduce people when you take them to beautiful places and taste wines with them, how do you keep that memory alive once they are back home and keep them engaged with that region? Focus on trading up and staying there...

Get the speaker notes here>>


Deborah Heath & Jeff Vejr

Deborah Heath is Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR. Her research on the cultural significance of terroir has included foie gras production, and now focuses on natural/biodynamic wine. She has conducted extensive field research in France, Sicily and the US.

Jeff Vejr is Creator & Host at drinkSNOB.tv (Sustainable, Natural, Organic, Biodynamic®), Portland, OR. An importer of small-production wines, he has launched and worked with several restaurants and wine bars, and currently curates the wine list at Sauvage Wine Bar, Portland, OR.

Deborah and Jeff will be delivering a talk titled:

Re-Inventing Tradition: Qvevris, Amphorae, Concrete Eggs, and the Natural Wine Movement 

Wine fermentation vessel history began with Georgia’s qvevri, and its later variants, the amphorae and pithos of the Phoenicians, Etruscans, and Greeks. Contemporary winemakers associated with the natural wine movement have re-invented tradition, fermenting wine in clay amphorae and egg-shaped concrete vessels. We offer an overview of these experiments and their impact on wine tourism, with case studies in Sicily, Spain, and the U.S.

Eventbrite - International Wine Tourism Conference 2014 - Tbilisi - Georgia

Erin Korpisto

I’m an Okanagan girl who, after many years spent working in architecture and travelling abroad, decided to come back to the Valley and try to get a foothold in the wine industry. In the past few years I have managed to work in the cellar as an assistant winemaker, in tasting rooms, and I have worked two crush seasons. This, however, was enough for me to realise that I’m not cut out for cellar work. I branched out into the Sales and Marketing side of the industry which, as a ‘people person’, has much better suited me. I now work part time in wine sales and part time in architecture, balancing two of my passions.

2012 was my big year of wine touring in central BC. I visited a total of 138 wineries, meaderies, cideries, and one distillery, blogging about my experiences and tasting notes. During that time I also completed my WSET Level 2 and Level 3 (Pass with Distinction). In 2013 I began teaching the Wine Sales Certificate Program and 'Introduction to BC Wine' at Okanagan College in Penticton.

I attended the North America Wine Blogger's Conference, held June 2013 in Penticton, and look forward to continuing my journey of wine education and blogging this fall as I tour the South of France for ten days.

Erin together with Allison Markin delivered a talk titled:

Wine Tourism in British Columbia: Small Wine Region, Big Visitor Impact

An introduction to the wines and regions of British Columbia, Canada, with a focus on Penticton & Wine Country Tourism in the Okanagan Valley. Learn about the history, varietals grown and the challenges faced by a small young wine region. We look at the ways that the town always known for “Beaches & Peaches” attracts international visitors to Wine Country.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Giorgi Sigua

Giorgi's path to becoming the Head at Georgian National Tourism Administration, Tbilisi, Georgia in 2013 began at the Microeconomics and Management Faculty, Tbilisi, Georgia with a BBA in International Economics and Business Management. Since then he has worked in media as Correspondent at "Morning newspaper" , Tbilisi, Georgia
and a Correspondent at “The first Georgian television channel “, Tbilisi, Georgia. He has also occupied various positions in the private sector in Belgium, Spain, UK and Ukraine. In 2007 Giorgi was involved in the mManagement of 5 Star Luxury Hotels LHSM- Luxury Hotels and Spa Management (Switzerland) -and Resorts and most recently has was a representative of the political coalition "Georgian Dream", United States.

Giorgi opened the 6th International Wine Tourism Conference with a plenary session titled:

Georgia - Cradle of Wine

Welcome to Georgia!

Nothing tells you more about the spirit and culture of a country than its native food and wine. And Georgia’s food and wine is amongst the best in the world.

It may surprise you to know that Georgia has the oldest continuous unbroken tradition of wine making in the world, stretching back over 8,000 years and today, there are more than 500 indigenous grape varieties still cultivated here. A quick look at its geographical position and its landscape shows you why it is the perfect place to grow grapes. A visit to Georgia is a true feast – let us show you how to eat and drink your way around Georgia.

In my talk I will make reference to Georgia as tourism destination,  8000 vintages, 500 + grape varieties, Past and Present of Georgian Wine, Georgian Wine Tourism: traditions and modernity in a perfect mix.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Jochen Erler speaker at IWINETC Croatia 2013

Jochen Erler

After some years in academia and many years in the international civil service, I retired to pursue my true love, of wines, walking and writing. I have spent much of my time leading wine walking groups throughout Europe and further afield. Since more than twenty years I have been a member of jury at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in the UK, and also occasionally at other contests. I am also a wine consultant.

In addition to my interest in wine & spirits, I have researched and written about spas, in particular in the field of wine wellness/wine therapy.

Over the past 4 years, the International Wine Tourism Conference has given me a venue to share my experience in wine and spas with the stakeholders in wine tourism. I research wine growing areas suited for wine tourism and make presentations at the Conference for the travel agents in search of tour destinations.

Jochen Erler delivered a talk titled

A rest day on a wine tour  - Wine Wellness/ Wine Therapy in Spas.

The ideal place to rest on a wine tour is a spa. So have you tried a spa that offers wine wellness/wine therapy?

Wine therapy is the most recent fashion in spa treatment. The medicinal aspect of it is based on the oil extracted from the pips and stems of the grapes.  Ideally, the spa has a natural mineral source.

The Cathiards at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte were the first to offer this. These pioneers and founders of wine therapy developed this concept through a collaboration with Professor Vercauteren from the University of Pharmacy in Bordeaux.

Today, there are other brands of wine-based products for skin care on the market. In my presentation I will review some of these brands and highlight the most important wine spas in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Austria and Italy.

Get the speaker notes here>>

John Wurdeman

John born in the USA, received his Masters in fine Arts at the Surikov Institute in Moscow. John has lived in Georgia for 18 years, he came here initially to collect ancient polyphonic folk songs. As an artist enamored with the lovely landscape, he stayed to paint and collect music. Most ancient Georgian folk songs are sung at the table and through travelling to different regions on song expeditions John became enraptured with the diverse food and wine culture of Georgia, founding Pheasant’s Tears Winery in 2007. John continues to paint, collect songs but the wine and wine tourism business has taken over a substantial part of his life, including running multiple restaurants, managing tours, and lecturing around the world.

John together with Ia Tabagari delivered a talk titled:

Authentic Terroir

This talk will offer a practical exploration of how to share, the authenticity of a wine region with food and wine lovers. What do the cuisine, wine, and folk songs of a distinct region have in common. How can we foster that unique spirit of a place, through wine tourism and help it retain the authenticity that makes it attractive.

We will take a visual and audio journey through different wine regions of Georgia and describe how their cuisines, and wine developed in tandem creating a unique harmony. We will describe the dominating chords of flavor in the food, characteristics of the wine, and even share the unique feasting songs of the region with live singers, to see how these cultures are impacted by history, climate, landscape and the spirit of a place. Why some are similar, and why some differ so much. Parallels of European Wine regions will also be made to help demystify, Georgia’s plurality of grape varieties and regions. In a fast changing world where there are so many international styles of wine, we will describe through our experience at Living Roots, why curious wine lovers long for a unique experience that allows them to enjoy local food and wine cultures in a deeper and more focused way then standardized food and wine pairings would offer. This approach helps one understand how wines evolved in their place of origin, taking an understanding of terroir further than only climate and geological structure of the site. This talk, illustrated with live songs, and visuals will be beneficial both for tour companies that run wine and food tours, as well as, writers looking for new themes to write about, as well as help participants understand more about regions they will visit during the excursions.

Get the speaker notes here>> and here>>

Kathleen Sullivan speaker at IWINETC Croatia 2013

Kathy Sullivan

Kathy and Terry Sullivan developed the Wine Trail Traveler website which is dedicated to promoting the wine industry including visiting wineries. They have written an article for each of the nearly 1,000 wineries they have visited since 2006. As they continue visiting more wineries, they look forward to consulting wineries about best practices for attracting visitors to tasting rooms and speaking engagements. Since 2006, they have visited and written about wineries in New Zealand, France, Canada, Croatia, Italy, England and 20 U.S. states. In 2012 they attended and presented at the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) in Perugia, Italy and a familiarization tour of Campania and Umbria. In November 2012, Kathy and Terry co-authored "A Wine Journey." The work continues in 2013 with a return trip to Long Island wineries. They attended and presented at IWINETC 2013 in Zagreb, Croatia and visited wineries in Croatia and Friuli, Italy. They attend the annual Drink Local Wine Conferences. At the end of May 2013 they toured wineries and vineyards in the Province of Québec. They also visited wineries in Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Savoie with winemakers and winery owners from Washington State University. 

Their second book “A Wine Tourist’s Guide: Visiting Tasting Rooms” was published in September 2013.

Kathy will be delivering a talk titled:

Quebec: An Emerging Wine Region 

This presentation will look at the development of the recent commercial wine industry emerging in Québec. However the story of grapes in Québec goes back to Jacques Cartier when he traveled the St. Lawrence River in the 1500s. Today the region offers almost 50 wineries with many near Montreal and Quebec City. This presentation is based on visiting more than 20 of these wineries, speaking with owners and winemakers, and taking photos. Three of these wineries are on Île d'Orléans across from Québec City.

Highlights will include a look at the numerous grape varieties that are successfully growing in the province and how growers and winemakers have successfully developed a system for harvesting grapes for Icewine production. Icewine harvest in Québec differs from Icewine harvest in neighboring Ontario.

Québec has much to offer the wine tourism industry. Attend this presentation and discover what this Canadian province has accomplished in recent years.

Eventbrite - International Wine Tourism Conference 2014 - Tbilisi - Georgia

Laurence Cogan

After 6 years of ESC Dijon marketing department where I taught mainly in English, the following courses: E -Business, marketing strategy, branding , brand communication , marketing & tourism wine tourism (for programs MSC Wine Business & MSC Wine Management) , I joined in early September , the new entity ESC Dijon , namely its " School of Wine & Spirits Business ." Part of the awards is the organization of thematic tastings for MSC students and the organization of field trips - with visits to wineries, tastings and discoveries eno- tourism structures - in various wine regions in France (Burgundy , Beaujolais, Champagne, Côte du Rhône) . Development in 2012 of a customized course in Food / Wine Tourism for American students from New Hampshire and Oxford Brookes University students ( 2011 and 2012 ) .

Laurence delivered a talk titled:

Wine tourism in Beaujolais, A potential to exploit

The Beaujolais region has suffered recently a severe crisis due to the problem with the Beaujolais nouveau and a mediocre quality of the wines. France and traditional markets like the USA, Japan and the UK have stopped making the Beaujolais nouveau a major international wine event. Beaujolais has many assets: its location near Lyon and an international airport, beautiful landscape, nice chateaux, great food, architecture and the location at 1 hour of traditional burgundy with beaune. Despite all its assets and the dynamism of key wine-growers and wine merchants - George duboeuf - wine tourism is largely under-developed. Some wine-growers with the help of the wine promotion board of the region are trying to exploit the opportunities and use wine tourism to reboost the sales of their wines. Key success stories. Recommendations for future developments.

Get the speaker notes here>> 

Marijan Močivnik

Founder, director, art director, one of designers and best photographer of Studio Ajd (www.studio-ajd.si), which is one of most prominent creators of visual communications in Slovenia, producing a significant part of its work for winemakers in Slovenia and abroad (Italy, Croatia). Also founder of www.bottleshooters.eu - top bottle photography service for winemakers and others, servicing slovenian, croatian, italian, austrian and winemakers from other cuontries/regions with top bottle product-photos.

Art director of most prominent slovenian wine magazine Vino, contributing also as a writer and as a organiser of most of Vino's major wine and wine tourism events.

Blogging about wine, culinary, design and photography since February 2009

As photographer publishing in Wine Spectator, National Geographic (Slovenia), Vino magazine (Slovenia), Papageno (Italy, Austria) and others ... Published cca 700 photos in monograph on Vipava vinegrowing region.

Occasionally invited to deliver a talk for students of winemaking at Univerza v Novi Gorici (Nova Gorica University) about wine label design (role, how to communicate to the designer) within their Wine Marketing course.

For his design work he received several awards.

Marijan together Aleš Gačnik delivered a talk titled:

Wine Tourism "Boom" / The Phenomenon of Wine Queens in Slovenia

Like elsewhere in the world, wine tourism in Slovenia is relatively young type of of tourism. Over the past two decades we can follow to the development of an extremely interesting Wine Queens phenomenon – at different levels: national, regional, local and on the level of selected grapes varieties. They are connected in the newly established Slovenian wine Kingdom.

Institution of Wine Queen of Slovenia is responsible for the promotion of Slovenian wines, viticulture and of Slovenia as a wine country too. They are spreading the culture of cultivation, care and culture of wine consumption. Across the globe they representing Slovenian tourism, cultural heritage and specially a local, regional and national wine culture. Therefore it is important, which girl will be selected in a public tender for the Wine Queen of Slovenia by a special committee. In 2014 will be chosen already the eighteenth Wine Queen of Slovenia. Over the last decade, we also get more regional and local Wine Queens, which communicate selected wine region or local community. We also have some Wine Queens, who are the ambassadors of certain grape varieties.

At the lecture will be presented a historical and cultural context, protocol, fashion, typology and mission of Wine Queens and specially their communicational role, »power« and influence on the development and promotion of wine tourism.

In vino veritas?

Get the speaker notes here>>

Max Johnson

I have had the opportunity to be involved with the tourism industry since 1978, first studying the industry at university and subsequently as an operator of a special-interest travel company since 1981.

During the past thirty years, I have been privileged to visit over 120 countries in search of new, interesting and evolving tourism trends and bring them back to our company market. we operate as a wholesaler and a retailer, and work with a community of approximately 10,000 individual clients and 300 agencies as our channel between the travel producers and the elusive "market".

Over the past few years, I have also, through a subsidiary consulting company, been involved with community-based tourism as it becomes both a catch-phrase and real component of economic development. It is simply the attempt by local regions to control the destiny of their economy by maximising local economic impact. I see the growth of wine-related tourism as a major socio-economic driver of the tourist industry, and look forward to working with development projects both as an advisor and as a partner in the marketplace.

As the electronic distribution of travel becomes ever more sophisticated and integrated in the marketing of tourism, it will become increasingly difficult for small products to survive without a solid strategy and effective partnerships at every level of distribution. My colleagues and I look forward to participating in the exciting and profitable times that lie ahead.

Max delivered a talk titled:

Wine Tourism - The Essence of Community Tourism Development

As tourism increases, there is a growing division between global commodity-tourism and local participation. Special Interests, and in particular wine and culinary programs, bring visitors closer to the regions they work in and act as a catalyst to local tourism development; this talk looks at how this trend may evolve, and the symbiosis between tourism and general economic growth.

Get the Speaker notes here>>


Melba Allen

Melba ALLEN - Leaving the USA for Europe after her studies at the University of Houston, Melba falls in love with the wine and food culture in France and decides to stay. She obtains a diploma from the well-known "Université-du-vin, Suze la Rousse in the Rhone Valley and at the same time succeeds in getting Beginning and Advance Certificates from the WSET [Wine & Spirits Education Trust] Program of London in the same year. As a passionate enthusiast, Melba dedicates herself to Wine Communication and Education.

Operating her own Wine Company in France in 1997 in France Melba has been involved with buying and selling wines Internationally, judging wines in Tasting competitions, and writing on-line articles for www Elle Magazine.com, Vin & Cuisine Ask an Expert.

In 2002 for a couple of years, Melba was the Director of the Wine Department of the Alain and Marie LeNotre Culinary Institute, a Member of the Wine Society of Texas and the Chain des Rotisseurs de l'Etoile Solitaire in Houston, Texas.

Teaching either in English or French, Melba works in areas such as Wine Training for Restaurants and Wine shops. She also uses her skills teaching Wine Science and Business at CMH Paris (https://www.cmh-school.com/), wine as a Luxury Product at ISC Paris Business School (https://www.iscparis.com/) and has participated in a Seminar at IDRAC Lyon (https://www.ecoles-idrac.com/Idrac/Campus-de-Lyon , the International Institut de Management Development [IMD] in Lausanne [Coaching Seminars], the Intitut Vatel [Courses in French]. She now lectures in Seminars Internationally on Wine Science, Business and Wine Tourism, as well as speaks in Conferences (i.e the International Wine Tourism Conferences sponsored by Wine Plesures https://www.iwinetc.com/, and the Douro Wine Tourism Seminar in Lamego, Portugal https://thewineprofilers.com/?p=5568) across Europe and Sensorial Analysis Workshops for VESTA in the USA.

Melba also uses the same skills in Wine Appreciation Classes and Cultural Events as leisure for groups and Companies such as Boston Scientific, OECD, Chateauform', Suez Water, PriceWater-House, the American Women's Group, WICE [Women Institute of Continuing Education] in Paris, Renault, EADS,...

She is actually a Member of "l’Union des Sommeliers de France à Lyon and Rhone Alpes" and the Union des Sommeliers International.

As The Wine Profilers Communications Coordinator of the social medias, and blogger, Melba Allen assists in pre-selecting wines and is in charge of TWP groups (units) and the English-speaking Communications Coordinator.

Melba delivered a talk titled:

Using Sensory Analysis as Games for a Memorable Visit

This workshop will show Wineries, Tasting Room Managers and Events Coordinators examples of short and easy to implement wine games that can entertain guests while they learn more about the wines that they taste and the regions from which the wines are produced. Some of these games can be in paper form for easier accommodation and accessibility. But because there are many wine games designed for smartphone users, we will also take a look at them as well. Games examples are, the WSET wine game, Great Wine Regions, Realtime wine, Wine expert test…

Get the speaker notes here>>

Paul and Merrill

Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo were part of the early Texas agricultural group that pioneered the Texas wine industry into what it is today. In 1977, Paul and Merrill married and settled into a home in Bryan, Texas. During that same year, they watched the television mini-series “Roots,” which inspired them to learn about their family heritages. Paul’s family came to America from Messina, Sicily, and Merrill’s family emigrated from Hof, Germany. Later that year they began planting their first vineyard. They named their vineyard Messina Hof, after their family roots, and incorporated traditions from each family into the wine, food, and hospitality of Messina Hof Winery and Resort. The Bonarrigo tradition of winemaking was reborn in the United States when Paul Bonarrigo (also known as Paul VI) started creating Messina Hof wines in Texas. Messina Hof is now the most awarded Texas wine in national and international competitions. They have created consumer wine and food pairing education, wine and culinary tourism mentorships, and have been at the forefront of wine tourism in the US. Today they have two wineries in Texas – one in Bryan-College Station and one in Fredericksburg. Today their son Paul (VII) and his wife Karen are leading into the next generation.

Paul and Merrill delivered a talk titled:

Managing the Guest Experience & Avoiding Hospitality Mistakes

The greatest single impact on improving existing business is learning how to master service to guests. Wine and Culinary Tourism is fiercely competitive. Many businesses compete for the same guests. It is survival of the most gracious. Who are your guests and what are their expectations and needs? Learn what makes you fail and how to improve hospitality habits.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Pramod Krishna

Director General - Confederation of the Indian Wines & Spirits Producers.
Member Management Committee - Wine Society.
India Representative International Wine & Spirits Record ( London).
Permanent Invitee to Govt of India Wine Board Meetings.
International Correspondent for Wine & Spirits Magazines.
Speaker at a number of International Wine & Spirits Seminars.

Pramod Krishna will be delivering a talk titled:

Wine Tourism in India Has Finally Arrived

India is essentially a Spirits consuming nation , predominantly Whisky.That is rapidly changing. 65% of our population is below the age of 35 & Wine is the preferred entry level drink amongst the youth . This has also given the much needed push to " Wine Tourism " especially in the Nashik valley - the Napa of India. Wine producers are upgrading their facilities to cater both for domestic & international tourists. The Indian Govt is also chipping in by way of making imports liberal.

Eventbrite - International Wine Tourism Conference 2014 - Tbilisi - Georgia

Sarah Abbott MW

I’m the founder and director of Swirl, a wine education and corporate events company that celebrates the things that make life sweet, namely wine and food. Seeing a roomful of people at one of our events having the most fantastic time gives me huge satisfaction. Empowering people to explore and understand wine and their own preferences, while championing characterful and delicious wines, makes me really happy, too.

I also work with wine producers, generic bodies and importers on branding and strategic communications. We tease out the stories in every bottle to connect with consumers and differentiate what’s unique. From mid 2014 I’ll be working with the National Wine Agency of Georgia to promote their wonderful wines in the UK.

Sarah lead the Wines of Georgia Grand Tasting together with Irakli Cholobargia, National Wine Agency, Georgia

Georgia has one of the oldest, continuous, unbroken traditions of wine making in the world, stretching back for 8,000 years. Georgian vine growing and wine production are mentioned in the works of Homer and Apollonius of Rhodes. Many archaeological finds suggest that Georgia is a birthplace of wine.

Wine is certainly an integral part of a rich, evocative culture, which values connection, expression and passion. Wine consumption in Georgia is intertwined with traditions of feasting, poetry and song.

Over 500 indigenous grape varieties are still cultivated here, many of them rescued, preserved and now propagated by a new national viticultural research station at xxxxx. White wines predominate, and range from the zesty and aromatic such Mtsvane, to the firm, stony Rkatsiteli. Reds are in the minority, but increasingly in the news. One of the most striking, and exciting, is Saperavi, described by Andrew Jefford as “a grape variety of astonishing potential”.

There is a third way, in Georgia. Neither red, nor white, nor rosé, so called ‘Orange Wines’ are derived from white grapes fermented on their skins to give darker, tannic whites. The traditional clay amphora used for these wines - Qvevri – are employed by both technologically-minded oenologists, and ‘natural’ wine makers, who eschew conventional preservatives and additions.

The challenge, and delight, for Georgia is to celebrate its unique heritage and diversity, while reaching out to contemporary wine consumers and winning the confidence of both mainstream and specialist wine importers. Georgia’s wines are not a museum piece, but they have a unique opportunity to retain a link with our deepest wine-loving past.

Get the Speaker overview as a "story" here>>

Sarah May Grunwald

Sarah May Grunwald is originally from California and lived in Australia and Germany before settling in Italy in 2005. She graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in European Humanities and has a sommelier certificate from Associazione Italiana Sommelier and certificates from WSET. Sarah is a professor at the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici where she teaches the course “Wines of Italy”. She is also the co-owner and manager of Antiqua Tours, which offers wine tastings, winery visits and cultural tours in and around Rome. She is the author of the wine blog, Tasting Rome and co-founder and contributor to the renowned wine and food web portal The Rome Digest.

Sarah delivered a talk titled:

An overview of the importance of local cultural heritage in visiting a wine region. Case study of Lazio.

I. Why are the humanities and people of a region as important to experiencing a wine region as the vines and wines themselves?
2. People as Terroir (winemakers, local farmers, visiting nearby towns)
3. Example: Lazio wine region, getting visitors beyond Rome for a well rounded cultural experience which includes people, wine, food and cultural heritage
4. Why wine is not enough in wine tours. Why cultural heritage can sometimes sell wine regions, especially in unknown regions.
5. Be a cultural ambassador of your wine region! Get the community involved: Examples.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Terry Sullivan speaker at IWINETC Croatia 2013

Terry Sullivan

Terry Sullivan, a former college lecturer, is a wine travel writer and author and co-owner of Wine Trail Traveler LLC, a winery and vineyard virtual visitor center. Terry and his wife Kathy travel to wineries throughout the world and write articles about the experiences on the website https://winetrailtraveler.com. To date we have visited and written about more than 1000 wineries. To view a sample of our articles visit: https://winetrailtraveler.com/italy/italy.php

We had our first book, A Wine Journey, published in November 2012. The book explores what interested wine enthusiasts can do to learn about wine, make wine and travel to wine regions. They are now working on a second book that is an informational book for wine travelers about visiting winery tasting rooms.

In addition to the articles on the Wine Trail Traveler site, Terry & Kathy crafted and bottled a barrel of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon at Vint Hill Craft Winery in Virginia. Terry has taken online winemaking courses through Washington State University. A companion website: https://winemaking.winetrailtraveler.com chronicles the adventures in winemaking and the vineyard. Currently the couple are crafting a barrel of 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon at Tin Lizzie Wineworks in Maryland.

Terry & Kathy attend several wine conferences a year. In January 2012 Terry attended and presented at the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) in Perugia, Italy. Terry presented at the Eastern Winery Exposition in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in March 2013. A week later they presented in Zagreb, Croatia at the International Wine Tourism Conference.

Terry delivered a talk titled:

Chicken Soup for the Wine Tourist’s Soul

A number of books have been published called Chicken Soup for the Soul. The main purpose of these books is to share real stories by real people that touch the human heart and soul. These heart-warming stories are remembered and shared long after hearing or reading them. This seminar will explore ways that wineries and tour operators can provide stories that touch the heart. After a day of wine tasting at several wineries, wine tourists will have a challenge to remember all the wines.They will remember the chicken-soupish stories they hear at wineries and from tour operators. Making a connection to the human side of the winery or tour is one step in providing a great experience and creating return customers.

The seminar will explore the art of storytelling. Story examples are wine-related. The first story centers on a wine grower in Ontario, Canada, and relates how an entire wine region reached out to help the grower’s family in a time of need. The second story spans Italy and Michigan and is about winery children; they know more about wine than one might believe. The third story is about a wine tourist visiting a winery in Virginia and how a tasting room staff member turned prejudice into a teachable moment.

Participants will learn the sources they can use to develop stories, including: history, family, inspiration, other people and many others. The presentation will include practical methods of story telling that can readily be used by tour operators and winery employees. The aim is for the winery or tour operator to be more personal and less corporate and business-like.

Attendees will gather ideas to create stories that will enhance a wine tourist’s experiences while visiting the winery or taking a tour. People do like to hear stories, and they are more likely to remember a story at the end of a day of wine travel.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Tim Clarke

Tim Clarke is the Chairman of multi-award-winning international wine tours specialist, Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours, which he founded with his wife Lynette Arblaster in 1986. In their late 20’s at the time, with experience in wine and travel, they pursued their passion to give people great wine holidays.

Arblaster & Clarke’s ‘Champagne Weekends’ were launched as the first serious wine tours programme to the Champagne region. (This programme has introduced around 2 million euros to the region and is a good example of the benefits of wine tourism). A&C went on to pioneer wine tours around the world, operating the first ex-UK/international consumer wine tours to many regions, including for instance, Chile & Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. The company has arranged around 1300 tours for groups of wine lovers, so far.

Tim develops original tour concepts, designs itineraries and researches wineries to visit. He particularly enjoyed expanding wine tourism ideas and developing Wine & Opera Tours, small ship Wine Cruises and Vineyard Walks, (where he researched the routes personally). Tim also has responsibility for A&C’s brochures and Website and writes most of the destination wine booklets.

Tim was described in the Sunday Times as “one of the most entertaining and authoritative wine guides in the business”. He has personally led parties of wine consumers on over 250 wine tours to 22 countries over the past 27 years, which gives him a unique perspective on the subject.

Tim spent the spring of 2011 working as a consultant for Georgia’s Economic Prosperity Initiative, studying the potential for Wine Tourism and writing a ‘Wine Tourism Strategy’. Tim was convinced that Georgia would be an amazing destination, so Arblaster & Clarke started operating to Georgia immediately, working closely with Georgian partners. Tim has also been instrumental in persuading other Tour Operators to start working in Georgia and to develop rural tourism here.

Tim delivered a talk titled:

What I told Georgia and what I learned from Georgia

Tim Clarke first came to Georgia to advise on a wine tourism strategy. Drawing on his long experience operating and leading wine tours, he advised that the country base its USP for visitors on its unique strengths, its huge number of native grape varieties and its traditional wine making methods. However, what he learned was much more interesting….

The first question that I had to consider in the strategy report was whether Georgia should base its wine tourism ‘story’ on its history, traditions and its huge numbers of grape varieties or whether it should reinvent itself in the ‘new world style’, with modern wine tourism facilities and easily saleable wines.

Doing the study had appealed to me both as an Ancient Historian and as someone who had spent the previous 25 years taking clients on expeditions to the source of wine. In the core of the study, I described the purposes of Wine Tourism and a hierarchy of wine tourists and their relative values. I recommended pursuing the ‘Primary Wine Tourist’ - trade visitors, opinion formers and wine lovers on wine tours. I considered wine tourism as a part of rural tourism, so looked at the condition of the villages and amenities, at steps that could be taken to improve these and means to maximize spin-off from tourism into the rural economy. The study also looked at the markets, competition and possibilities, proposing ideas and an action plan.

It was one thing for me to tell Georgians their ‘story’ was unique, it was quite another to hear from them how unique it was; that the wines were not just made from rare varieties using antique methods, but were part of a vibrant, ancient wine culture and were made with deep feeling - a counterblast against the bland in wine and the homogenous in wine tourism.

Get the speaker notes here>>


Tom Plant speaker at IWINETC Croatia 2013

Tom Plant

With a background in broadcast and real estate, I launched WINEormous in 2009 with the idea of telling the stories of winemakers and winery owners. My father was in hotel management, so I grew up around food and wine. I am now a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association and travel the world writing about food and wine.

Tom will be delivering a talk titled:

The Dos & Don'ts of Wine Tourism

As a wine tour operator for nearly five years, I have learned a lot about the wine tourism industry. I have met and visited with my guests as well as winery owners and winemakers and have gained a great deal of insight along the way. I will cover what you need to do as an operator to make your guests comfortable and want to come back for a repeat experience. I will also tell you what you need to avoid doing. There are also crucial elements you need in place as a winery to make your guests feel welcome and want to come back again and again. Social media is a key factor and I'll go into ways of keeping your customers engaged. Establishing and maintaining an e-newsletter is also essential, and I will cover that, too.

Eventbrite - International Wine Tourism Conference 2014 - Tbilisi - Georgia

Veronika Raetchi -Tomescu

Veronika previously Head of Tourism Department, JV ”Vinaria Purcari” LTD.  and is now Managing Director of the travel agency, tourism developer, JV “Chateau Vartely” ltd, President of the Association “National Center for Promotion of the Wine Tourism” and a member of the Moldovan Association for incoming tourism.

Veronika delivered a talk titled:

Republic of Moldova an emerging wine tourism destination

Moldova wine tourism during soviet times and after the collapse of the USSR. Appearance of new wine destinations, due to private investments. Popularization of the wine tourism through association in Wine Guilds. Wine education of the consumer. Development of the national program MOLDOVA WINE ROUTE. Alignment of the wine and touristic industry to a common promotion and development strategy.

Get the speaker notes here>>

Join the IWINETC Network
Stay up to date on conference happenings