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'Field Notes: Wine Tourism Conference 2015'


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Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.

Last week, Happiness Engineers Marjorie R. Asturias and Andrea Badgley attended the fifth annual Wine Tourism Conference in Loudoun County, Virginia. The event brings together leaders in the wine industry — from tour operators to wine bloggers — to talk about wine tourism and digital marketing (and to share a glass or two). Here’s Andrea’s account of her experience at the conference.

Vintners and tour operators from Canada, the UK, and Portugal flew into Virginia last week to connect and talk about how to reach out to wine enthusiasts and welcome them to the growers’ tasting rooms.

Tourism data or emerging markets aside, these folks are passionate about wine. They’d be crafting, drinking, and talking about it even if wine tourism weren’t a growing industry.

You know you’re in the right place when at 9 o’clock in the morning, you’re talking about wine.

— Beth Erickson, president of Visit Loudoun

Marjorie and I enjoyed meeting and connecting at a one-on-one level with the 175 conference attendees to hear their personal stories. Most proprietors we met operate small, intimate wineries, where they do all of the work, from growing the grapes to bottling the wine. The couple who owns the La Finquita winery cultivate and harvest their grapes themselves, and they even custom etch their wine bottles. Similarly, tour operators execute every aspect of their business, from booking the tours to balancing the books, and from managing the website to driving the bus. They do this work because they are passionate about it.

Lunch wine at Stone Towers Winery WTC15 Wine pouring at lunch Marjorie Asturias and Andrea Badgley at Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Talking with WordPress users at the Expo Lunch pouring WordPress.com and wine Marjorie and WordPress.com at Expo Designing Websites with Marjorie Asturias
This passion is perfect for blogging. Everything has a story in wine tourism: the architecture of the tasting room, the land, the family, the wine. These are small businesses that feed naturally into the Go Local movement, in which customers want to meet the people who are growing and making local food and wine.

Wine tour guides and emerging wineries are small businesses. They have minimal advertising budgets, but they have fascinating stories to tell. Websites, blogs, and social networking are powerful, inexpensive tools for connecting with their customers and getting the word out about the wine and land they love so much.

Vintners poured wine and shared their stories and passion with us, and Marjorie and I were thrilled to return the favor. We talked about blogging as a guerrilla marketing tool, stressed the importance of having a website and an online presence, and even helped a local wine concierge, Vino 301, ensure her site is mobile ready. In addition, Marjorie presented a much-appreciated session on Designing Websites for 2016 and beyond, and I succumbed to the beauty of the region, taking notes for when my husband and I one day get away to explore the wineries of Virginia.


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