2024 Eastern Winery Exposition | Conference Program

Conference Program

Workshops & Conference

Workshops will take place March 12 and provide a full day exploration of a single topic: Sustainable & Organic Viticulture & WinemakingBottling & Canning; and Money & Management. You can choose one of the three full workshops or cherry-pick just the sessions you want from each. Lunch included.

Conference sessions take place March 13-14 and will feature sessions throughout both days on Enology, Marketing and Viticulture.

New in 2024! The License to Steal Wine Marketing Conference will present a full Marketing track March 13-14 as part of the Eastern Winery Exposition Conference. That means your Conference pass will also give you access to LTS Marketing sessions. Separate EWE & LTS registration is no longer required.

Speaker Biographies can be found on the Speaker page.  

WORKSHOP 1: Sustainable & Organic Viticulture & Winemaking

Sustainable & Organic Viticulture & Winemaking

Climate change is having major impacts on the wine and grape industries, from frosts nearly wiping out the 2020 crop in much of Virginia and the 2022 crop in the Finger Lakes, to repeated fires in California’s North Coast vineyard areas, and the spread of invasive insects. As consumers are increasingly concerned about the integrity of their foods and beverages, and as increased rainfall also increases disease pressure in the East, how can we imagine a practical sustainability for the future? This workshop brings together top practicioners and researchers to give us some answers, and includes two certified organic Eastern wine producers.

Justin Jackson

What does “sustainability” even mean? In the New York wine industry sustainability revolves around locally-focused standards ensuring environmental preservation, social equity, and financial stability. Justin will discuss the New York Sustainable Winegrowing program, its principles, standards, and what sustainability looks like in the New York wine industry. He will also delve into VineBalance, their program designed to define and promote the use of sustainable growing practices in New York vineyards, and will discuss its scoring, rationale, and how best a vineyard can utilize it. 

Intended audience: anyone curious about how the New York Sustainable wine program functions and the burgeoning sustainable wine industry in NY.

Damien Blanchon & Paul Brock

“Biointensive viticulture” is a term which was coined in 2018 when a group of like-minded Finger Lakes grape growers organized monthly meetings to explore all aspects of biologically intensive growing. Since that time the group has expanded to be inclusive of any fruit grower who would like to participate, from Long Island to Champlain Valley to Lake Erie. Paul will explain how biointensive viticulture evolved in the Finger Lakes, how you practice it, and the benefits you see as well as costs (such as increased labor).

At Afton Mountain Vineyard the vineyard is the most important part of their operation. Their goal is to grow healthy plants using a minimum of chemical products in order to harvest good balanced quality grapes as close as possible to ideal chemistry, and to make their wines with very low interventions, respecting the terroir and the expression of it through the finished wines. To be successful with lutte raisonee requires a lot of observation and anticipation of the different disease cycles in the growing season. Damien will detail the many herbal teas they spray at different stages of the growing season, combined with low rates of sulfur and different types of copper. Soil balance is also a key element to healthy vines, therefore they bring compost to each plant every 4-5 years to keep a balanced and living soil. To develop terroir wines, they must be handled with care and the understanding that adaptation will be required with every vintage. In the cellar, they are minimalistic during fermentation and aging. Damion will explain how they try to avoid acidification or tannin addition, respecting the fruit as much as possible, and minimizing new oak so it doesn’t drastically impact the structure and aromatics of the wine.

Bill Redelmeier

Bill will discuss the evolution of Southbrook Vineyards from the times of purchasing grapes and making wine north of Toronto to the present where the vineyard and winery are certified organic, biodynamic, and sustainable. 

In designing the conversion to organics, Bill sought to create a world-class example of sustainability and that meant breaking ground in Niagara. Everything they now do at Southbrook has descended from that decision to be organic/ biodynamic/ sustainable. Their solar panel array powers 100% of the electricity used in wine production; the wetlands, filled with native plants, filter its wastewater before returning it to the land; bioswales clean the surface runoff from the parking lot and driveway; the retail pavilion is built to LEED Gold standard; pollinator gardens provide food and shelter for butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects; and more. In studies from around the world, organic and biodynamic wines have demonstrated a significant improvement in quality – and this is the most important outcome, a great glass of wine, without compromise.

Karl Hambsch

Loving Cup vineyard manager Karl Hambsch will define organic grapegrowing in both legal and practical terms and will share the challenges of the growing grapes in the Mid-Atlantic without synthetic materials. Loving Cup has trialed over 75 varieties of grapes, and Hambsch will explain the criteria he uses to evaluate new varieties for organic compatibility. The critical roles of sanitation and canopy management will be discussed and balanced against the relative inefficacy of organic fungicides. Hambsch will explain Loving Cup’s pest insect management and the threat of invasive insects to the pest-predator equilibrium he has curated. This will dovetail to Loving Cup’s management of undervine vegetation and will underscore the importance of a purposeful, cohesive farm system. Intended audience: Grape growers with some experience.

Karl Hambsch

Loving Cup winemaker Karl Hambsch will define organic winemaking in both legal and practical terms and will share the simple protocols he uses to make vegan, low-sulfite, organic, flaw-free wines. Emphasis will be given to fruit sorting, cellar cleanliness, and oxygen management. The limited availability of organic ingredients and processing aids will be discussed as well as which rigid constraints can limit a winemaker’s creativity. Karl will explain the organic labeling laws and detail the initial application and annual renewal process. He will also address the recent proliferation of “greenwashing” in the market and the resultant devaluation of organic branding. Intended audience: winemakers with some experience.

WORKSHOP 2: Bottling & Canning

Bottling & Canning

Bottling or filling the final wine container is a crucial, final step in the winemaker’s craft before sending the wine out into the market. This workshop breaks down the process into easy-to-understand segments, from planning to the bottling line, how to make the closure/container interface work, and two sessions on canning wine, an increasingly popular choice especially for wineries trying to reach the younger wine consumer.

Vinny Aliperti & Steve DiFrancesco

In theory, planning for bottling should start in late July with the initial crop estimates from your vineyard manager or grower partners. As harvest approaches and more precise yields come into focus, early production projections start to develop and the new vintage starts to take form. As the harvest season starts to wind down, the reality of the vintage both in quality and quantity starts to crystalize. At this point a plan should begin to emerge within your team to develop a roadmap for the upcoming bottling season. While recognizing every organization is structured and sized differently, Steve and Vinny will present their best practices to help ensure your systems and protocols will make bottling days more streamlined and efficient. Effective planning will ensure that the critical step of bottling will take place with a minimum of anxiety. They will cover many points of bottling from equipment, to packaging, to wine integrity. They will touch on sanitation, waste, and post bottling issues. They will even touch on recalls and re-work, which will hopefully never happen to you.

Phil Plummer & Abby Stamp

The bottling process is often as difficult as it is critical, but careful attention to planning, quality control, and troubleshooting minimizes headaches and safeguards product integrity. Finger Lakes winemakers Abby Stamp and Phil Plummer will discuss bottling from planning to cleanup, highlighting important considerations that may be made at each step to increase efficiency and avoid downstream issues. Topics to be covered include preparing a wine for bottling, planning for bottling day, sanitation, running the bottling line, and troubleshooting.

Tom Payette & Phil Plummer

Closure selection is one of the most consequential decisions a winemaker can make in the vinification process, but the dizzying array of options and associated considerations makes that decision a complicated one. Join winemakers Tom Payette and Phil Plummer for a discussion of closure technologies and how they may be applied to maximize the potential of your wines. They’ll explore this important decision from the perspective of matching a wine’s stylistic aims to an appropriate closure. The strengths and weaknesses of a variety of closures will be described, as well as the appropriate equipment and quality control measures required for successful application of each.

Austin Montgomery   

Canned wines are a rapidly growing category of wine packaging that offers advantages over glass in terms of durability, convenience, and recyclability. Despite its advantages, a synergistic effect between SO2 and pH can cause certain wine and liner combinations to produce undesirable amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S; “rotten egg” aroma) in as little as weeks. Gavin Sack’s lab has developed and validated an accelerated aging protocol to predict H2S formation, as well as rapidly evaluate the impact of critical components on H2S production. This session is primarily intended for winemakers who are considering aluminum cans as a packaging type yet is accessible for anyone working in the wine industry. Main points include 1) the chemical interactions between wine components and packaging, 2) the development of an accelerated aging protocol to predict H2S production, and 3) key takeaways that can be immediately utilized by winemakers to improve the quality and shelf life of wine in cans.

Tim Benedict & Roger Kissling

Wine in a can has been around for almost twenty years and continues to grow in popularity.  Roger and Tim will discuss the advantages of canning wine and what types of wines are best suited for this package. They will also address some of the challenges with canning and techniques to apply that will maximize freshness and shelf life.

WORKSHOP 3: Money & Management

Money & Management

Our Money & Management workshop features valuable tips on ways you can improve your vineyard and winery business, from lowering your carbon footprint to accounting tips, a guide to alternating proprietorships, and more.

Paul Brock & Joe Juniper

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

Silver Thread Vineyard employs several carbon-conscious efforts including light-weight glass, technical natural corks, solar energy and other techniques in the winery. In the vineyard, cultural practices and an emphasis on ecological health of the vineyard system drives Silver Threads’ carbon initiatives. Paul and his team are always striving for and evaluating what a sustainable, low-carbon vineyard and winery system looks like today. 

Joe will discuss the need to remain fluid-based on region, site, and vintage to maximize environmental sustainability. He will tie together the practices and non-dogmatic approach that has allowed him to reduce his carbon footprint at Vermilion Valley Vineyards in both the vineyard and tasting room, while remaining financially viable. 

Attendees should depart with an open minded view about how they can apply different techniques to specific situations to aid in reducing their environmental impact.

Tony Sandonato

In this session Tony will cover current accounting and tax-related hot topics and issues. Topics covered include accounting methods, inventory costing and control, record-keeping best practices, and budgeting and forecasting fundamentals. There will also be a discussion of how good internal accounting and financial reporting can be a useful tool for tracking information, which can be used to claim current tax incentives that can provide substantial savings to wineries and vineyards.

John Levenberg

In this session John will compare the financial implications of starting a winery with and without use of an alternating proprietorship for the first five years. He will detail the upfront, capital-intensive nature of starting a winery including equipment purchases, production space build-out and labor expectations that accompany wine production. Comparison of the two models will demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of both scenarios.

The session is intended for individuals that are interested in starting a winery while also appealing to those who are considering an expansion. Topics to include: cash-flow management, upfront capital vs. deferred expenses, switching from a red to a black balance sheet, and production protocols vs. production flexibility.

Michael Kaiser & John Trinidad

Over the past year, the federal government has made clear that it is seriously considering adopting new nutrition labeling and ingredient labeling regulations for wines sold in the U.S.  The industry also is eagerly awaiting the results of TTB’s proposed rulemaking on its proposed “modernization” of federal wine labeling regulations first proposed in 2018. And on top of all that, states have also adopted their own regulations primarily aimed at protecting their key wine growing appellations. Panelists will discuss the full range of current issues in wine labeling, providing attendees with a clear understanding of the labeling challenges that lie ahead.

Nova Cadamatre

Whether you have been in the business only a short time or for decades, there are always new tips and tricks to make the most of your business plan. Join Master of Wine, Finger Lakes winery owner and veteran winemaker, Nova Cadamatre, as she outlines the top five mistakes winery owners usually make, and how to pivot away from them to a more profitable and thriving business. She’ll cover maximizing quality and profit, understanding what investments are critical and which are nice but optional, and more.

Sponsored by:

ENOLOGY

Howard Bursen & Steve DiFrancesco

For a winemaker, a flawed batch of wine is a Big Deal. We are willing to do just about anything to make it better. What to do when you are faced with a problem wine? Howard will describe a powerful method, using activated lees fining, for cleaning up many common problems in badly tainted wines. Off-tastes such as sulfides, oxidation and Brett can be easily removed without special equipment. Howard has developed this process over his many years of professional winemaking.

Steve will discuss sparkling wine issues from runaway Brix in the vineyard, through pressing, fermenting, and aging before the secondary fermentation in the bottle. Many issues can occur during the tirage fill with the Traditional Method, or with the secondary fermentation with the Tank Method. Sluggish secondary fermentations are cause for concern, and remedial actions are difficult once the wine is bottled. Steve will discuss critical steps that should be addressed before and during the tirage fill. Disgorging and dosage issues will also be discussed.

Karl Hambsch & Phil Plummer

Fizzy, unique, and unpredictable, Pétillant-Naturel, Pét-Nat for short, is one of the fastest-growing trends in sparkling wine. Join Eastern winemakers Karl Hambsch and Phil Plummer for a panel discussion on their experiences producing Pét-Nats, including a tasting of examples made from the interspecific hybrid varieties Cayuga White and Diamond. They’ll cover the hallmarks of the Méthode Ancestrale technique, wine chemistry parameters, and bottling considerations, as well as consumer perception of these wines.

Tim Benedict & Joe Juniper

Beverage consumers are becoming more health conscious and as a result, trends have been moving more towards lower alcohol and lower calorie options. Flavored seltzers and RTD cocktails have exploded in popularity in recent years. Co-presenters: Joe and Tim will discuss how the wine industry can respond to these new trends.

The world of wine is ever-changing and the market as a whole continues to evolve. Beverage consumers are becoming more health conscious and as a result, trends have been moving more towards lower alcohol and lower calorie options. Flavored seltzers and RTD cocktails have exploded in popularity in recent years. Tim will discuss how the wine industry can respond to these new trends. 

Joe will discuss several lower alcohol wines that have made it onto the wine list at Vermilion Valley Vineyards. He will discuss the rationale for these wines, how they came to be, and the customer reception for lower alcohol options. He will also touch on the opportunities that lower alcohol wines allow for an operation to reduce their carbon footprint in both the vineyard and the cellar.

Peter Bell & Steve DiFrancesco

Wisdom rarely comes easily and is best attained through experience. Gaining experience can be challenging. As the comedian Steven Wright said: “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” Peter and Steve have a collective 70-plus years of experience making wine. Tapping into that lengthy experience, Steve and Peter will recall some of the most noteworthy problems they faced that were not in any winemaking playbook. Yes, problems can arise from nowhere at all stages of winemaking, and in this session you’ll benefit from advice on how to, or how not to, deal with them.

Sponsored by:

Peter Bell & Morten Hallgren

In the Finger Lakes, we often have the possibility of producing high quality, age worthy red wines, yet a red wine with a Reserve (or similar) designation should be much more than just an excuse to raise the bottle price. Though the winemaker has almost unlimited scope in terms of what goes into a Reserve blend, it can be agreed that all successful wines should maximize aroma intensity and complexity, should have an optimal palate structure that maximizes the contributions of the components, should not be a caricature or overblown, and should have the capacity to age well. In this session, Peter and Morten will lay out their respective approaches to making a memorable high-end red blend while also addressing how they define a “reserve quality red wine”; what the vineyard implications and requirements are for wines of this level; and how they implement winemaking practices for this purpose, both on the crush pad and in the cellar.

Molly Kelly

A lower dissolved oxygen (DO) and lower total package oxygen (TPO) in bottled wine result in better wine stability and increased shelf life potential. In this presentation, the impacts of oxygen on wine quality and critical points of oxygen pickup during winemaking will be identified. Suggested best cellar practices, particularly at bottling, to keep DO and TPO levels low will be discussed. Methods of oxygen measurement will also be presented.

Craig Hosbach

The hardest job for a winemaker involves problems that arise during fermentation that are difficult to rectify later on. If you think the vast majority of winemaking is complete after fermentation, this implies that there is little you can do to improve the quality of wine after this stage is complete. Maximizing aromatics in whites and rosés will not only help to realize this objective but will also enhance a sense of place in your wines. This can be achieved by understanding the timing of nutrient additions and at what stage yeast metabolize particular nutrients. The objective of this session is to create a broader understanding of the formation and retention of esters and thiols: How can winemakers manipulate and exert control over these processes while using commonly accessible resources to achieve this goal?

Joseph Fiola

While cider and fruit wines are very popular now in the U.S., understanding and managing basic fermentation challenges is critical for making a balanced and stable cider. Apple juice tends to have high pH and unique acid profiles so amelioration can be tricky. The high pH also makes SO2 management challenging. Apple fermentations are prone to reduction; high volatile acidity, and weird smells/ hazes due to MLF/ LAB, more likely post-fermentation. The good news is that ciders are typically a blend of the major apple types, supplying major tools/options for aroma, flavors, and balance management. Joe’s presentation will address fermentation issues and blending for balance and complexity.

Tyler Franzen, Aaron Roisen & Zach Waltz

Most winemakers are familiar with potassium instability in wine, but there is a new issue on the rise: Calcium precipitates. Recent shifts in climate, combined with an adoption of new tools has led to the emergence of calcium tartrates, in addition to potassium bitartrates. This session will dig into both potassium and calcium instability, and how best to test and prevent their occurrence before they are bottled.

Paul Read

In the upper Midwest, viticulturists frequently face challenges in achieving consistent annual yields due to factors like climatic variations and disease, compounded by cultivar-specific limitations. While a widely-held belief from numerous global wine-producing regions posits that limiting crop size can lead to wines of higher concentration and quality, this notion is primarily rooted in the production of Vitis vinifera varieties. Yet, there’s a noticeable gap in research concerning the effects of crop reduction on hybrid cold climate cultivars, which dominate Midwestern vineyards. 

Prompted by this, Paul’s team initiated a study to assess the potential benefits of crop size reduction on the quality of grapes and wines derived from hybrid cold climate varieties in Nebraska. They examined two crop reduction treatments (25% and 50%) against a no-reduction control across various cultivars, notably Marquette (red) and Itasca (white). Following harvest, grapes from each group underwent laboratory analysis, and wines produced were subjected to sensory evaluations. Aside from the anticipated decrease in yield, they observed minimal variations in berry attributes and found no significant disparity in wine quality. These findings offer valuable insights for Midwest viticulturists and those involved in cultivating and vinifying cold climate hybrid grapes.

VITICULTURE

Timothy Hosmer & Chris King

As the cost for everything involved in the planting, growing and harvesting of grapes continues to rise rapidly, growers are facing an incredibly challenging economic landscape.  Pressure to produce ultra-premium quality grapes combined with increased cost of labor, compliance, pest pressure and changing weather patterns along with decades of stagnant pricing backed by government regulations chip away at growers’ already thin profit margins.  This session will address all of the above in an open forum with seasoned growers from the Finger Lakes region. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions in advance of the session to fred@tangooaksfarm.com as well as to ask them in person in what is sure to be a lively discussion. 

Intended audience: all grape growers, independent and winery-affiliated, for all experience levels.

Michela Centinari

Bud damage caused by cold injury during the dormant season represents an economic challenge for wine grape producers in the eastern U.S., as it can cause stunted vine growth, crop losses, and delayed fruit ripening. Bud damage can happen throughout the winter but also in early spring when buds lose cold hardiness as they approach budbreak. In this session, relevant factors that can affect bud cold hardiness and damage and their practical implications will be reviewed. Michela will also discuss methods to assess bud damage and management practices that can be used to decrease damage occurrence and crop losses.

Cain Hickey & Tim Martinson

The wine grape industry in the eastern U.S. consists of growing and producing wines from both Vitis vinifera (European) and hybrid grape cultivars. The names of Vitis vinifera cultivars and wines are generally more familiar to wine consumers. While the names of hybrid grape cultivars are generally lesser known, these cultivars often display remarkable resiliency to abiotic and biotic pests. As such, hybrid cultivars are accepted as sustainable options for grape growing in the changing and challenging climates of some national and international growing regions. Cain will review and discuss commercially relevant traits of hybrid cultivars in the context of cultivation in the eastern U.S.

Vitis vinifera cultivars require up to 15 fungicide sprays to manage the five foliar diseases (powdery, downy, black rot, phomopsis, botrytis) present in our climate. Hybrids offer growers more disease resistance and cold-hardiness, reducing risk. Breeding programs are incorporating multiple powdery mildew and downy mildew resistance sources into new varieties, offering the prospect of reducing the number of sprays to 2-4 per season. Tim will describe how new DNA-based tools are revolutionizing grape breeding, and what’s in the pipeline and near release.

Cain Hickey

Sound nutrient management is important to sustain grapevine health and productivity over the lifespan of the vineyard. Mineral nutrient deficiencies limit plant growth and metabolism, while excessive amounts of some nutrients can result in toxicity. Therefore, it is important to quantify vine nutrient status to evaluate and correct vine nutrient levels so optimal vine growth is maintained. Measuring tissue nutrient concentrations can give an indication of the current nutritional status of vines. However, it is important to treat tissue nutrient concentration results as guidelines. Soil sample results, visual observations of the vineyard topography and soil types, and records of vine growth and crop yield will aid in the diagnosis of nutrient imbalances. The information presented should help answer “when, how, and why?” growers may sample grapevine tissues for nutrient analyses.

Imed Dami

Grape yield loss caused by spring frost injury has increased in recent years. Mild winters, due to climate change, have led to advanced spring growth, thus rendering grapevines more susceptible to spring frost damage. Several passive and active protection methods are available and have been applied commercially in the Eastern U.S. These methods with their pros and cons will be presented. Dealing with grapevines after spring frost will also be presented.

Greg Loeb

Greg will provide an update on the recent research into managing grape leafroll disease in wine grapes, emphasizing the results of a six-year study conducted in a commercial vineyard in the Finger Lakes region, testing the efficacy of spatial roguing (removal of infected grapevines), vector control, or the combination of roguing and vector control. 

He will include a brief review of the causal agents of grape leafroll disease, its insect vectors and its impact on wine grapes. If time, he will also provide an update on their research to develop new genetic approaches to managing grape leafroll disease by targeting both the insect vectors and the virus. Intended audience: owners, vineyard managers, wine makers, wine pest control advisors and extension educators.

Adam C. Howell

NY FarmNet Outreach Director Adam Howell will give attendees insight into one of the most unique farmer assistance programs in the country. Based at Cornell University and funded by the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets and the NYS Office of Mental Health, NY FarmNet helps farmers, farm families, and agricultural professionals navigate times of crisis, growth, and opportunity. NY FarmNet’s unique support system provides farmers in need with both a family and financial consultant to help address any number of issues they may be facing. All of NY FarmNet’s services are provided free of charge and all cases are completely confidential. NY FarmNet was founded by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University in response to the national farm crisis of the 1980s. NY FarmNet still operates at Cornell as part of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management. The Dyson School is part of both Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the SC Johnson College of Business.

Brian Eshenaur

It’s been almost 10 years since the spotted lanternfly was discovered in North America. It’s now established in portions of 16 states in the eastern U.S. This invasive planthopper can feed on vines and become a threat to vineyard health. Brian will review the different life stages which range from tan egg masses to tiny crawling black nymphs to the adult with polka dotted outer wings and bright-orange underwings. He’ll explain its life cycle, behavior, and favorite host plants. From there you’ll see how it has spread via current maps of spotted lanternfly locations. Brian will look at the latest research and describe the management options to prevent this pest from causing damage to vineyards.

Paul Read

In the upper Midwest, viticulturists frequently face challenges in achieving consistent annual yields due to factors like climatic variations and disease, compounded by cultivar-specific limitations. While a widely-held belief from numerous global wine-producing regions posits that limiting crop size can lead to wines of higher concentration and quality, this notion is primarily rooted in the production of Vitis vinifera varieties. Yet, there’s a noticeable gap in research concerning the effects of crop reduction on hybrid cold climate cultivars, which dominate Midwestern vineyards. 

Prompted by this, Paul’s team initiated a study to assess the potential benefits of crop size reduction on the quality of grapes and wines derived from hybrid cold climate varieties in Nebraska. They examined two crop reduction treatments (25% and 50%) against a no-reduction control across various cultivars, notably Marquette (red) and Itasca (white). Following harvest, grapes from each group underwent laboratory analysis, and wines produced were subjected to sensory evaluations. Aside from the anticipated decrease in yield, they observed minimal variations in berry attributes and found no significant disparity in wine quality. These findings offer valuable insights for Midwest viticulturists and those involved in cultivating and vinifying cold climate hybrid grapes.

MARKETING FROM LICENSE TO STEAL®

Mike Veseth

Wine economist Mike Veseth probes the world’s most respected wine regions to uncover the secrets of their success and reveals how these secrets can be applied to wine regions around the world.

Karen Thornton

This presentation will help applicants move through their AVA application with a minimum of mistakes and resulting subsequent delays in the approval process.

Jim Trezise

Learn how this dynamic organization serves as a sounding board, represents your interests and helps to protect the industry’s future as we deal with the coming pressures from the neo-prohibitionists, shipping issues, including the coming Farm Bill as is crafted in Congress.

Michael Kaiser

An update from Washington DC on issues of concern to the American wine industry including ingredient and nutrition labeling, interstate shipping issues and music licensing.

Ankita Okate

This topic encompasses the current impact of Artificial Intelligence on the business, future AI trends, and opportunities, preparing for the AI revolution, personalized recommendations, predicting market demand and consumer preferences, quality control, compliance with regulations, enhancing the sensory experience, sustainability, inventory management, and the future of the industry.

As boomers age and the Z generation’s affinity for RTD’s and bourbon is ever growing, we need to find new ways to build new “on ramps” to maintain the vitality of our industry.

Maureen Ballatori

As social media moves more and more toward entertainment, algorithms reward accounts that share videos. Video content tends to receive more impressions and a wider reach. In this session, we’ll go beyond the basics to look at what truly moves the needle on social media.

Roger Brooks

As marketing programs are designed, using the ‘correct’ words will provide the foundation for success.

Clint Bradley

What’s Old is New will focus on opportunities for the wine industry to capitalize on current societal and demographic trends. Hint: it’s about creating new customer experiences and building intergenerational connection by introducing young people to wine in ways that touch all the five senses.

As wine festivals and events are experiencing diminishing attendance numbers, we will explore new ideas and approaches to rebuild and re-imagine these marketing tools.

Chris Puppione

Welcome to the modern world of hospitality, where customer loyalty is not good enough; we must dedicate ourselves to transforming those we serve into passionate advocates. In an era when the bar for hospitality in tasting rooms is set painfully low and satisfaction will not suffice, we must redefine the game. We will discuss the power of listening, creating unforgettable moments that elevate experiences, and how to make it effortless for your customers to love your brand.

Chris Puppione

By mastering the art of influence, rapport-building, and storytelling, learn how to fulfill your guests’ core needs while fostering a sense of belonging, status, and self-fulfillment. We will discuss impactful ideas that help keep things fresh in developing exclusive experiences and will make everyone want to be a part of your tribe. In this session, we will explore our current hospitality economy and discuss how you can be the answer to building lasting cultures where teams and customers stay for years, making it stunningly simple to get it right.

Bennett Caplan

There are those who are effectively reconceptualizing alcohol in terms of a view that any level of alcohol consumption is associated with preventable diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. What does this “no safe level” or “NSL” view of alcohol mean for the wine sector?

Sharing ideas about the pressures from the re-emerging Neos: tactics, and potential action plans to counter their efforts.

Kathy Kelley

Learn how to use emotion to enhance your customer relationship and improve brand commitment. Attendees will discover ways that positive feelings about a brand can significantly impact consumer loyalty.

Roger Brooks

Research indicates that stories sharing engaging, interactive experiences will sell an attraction to every generation while pretty, but mundane pictures of wine and tasting rooms will not sell them effectively.


Conference Manager

Richard Leahy has organized major wine industry conference programs from Pennsylvania to Minnesota since 1997, and has been writing about wines of Virginia and the East since 1986. He started the Eastern Winery Exposition in 2012 with Operations Director Marcia Gulino and former owner Bob Mignarri. In 2007 he organized the Virginia Wine Experience in London which brought the top 64 Virginia wines there for leading British wine media and trade to taste. He was a regional editor for Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide, and was Mid-Atlantic and Southern Editor for the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America. He was East Coast Editor of Vineyard & Winery Management for over ten years. He is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. Richard’s book on Virginia wine, Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, now in a third edition, was first published in 2012 by Sterling Publishing. In 2022, he was given the Birchenall Award by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association for his promotion of the Eastern wine industry over the years. He also has a website and blog focused on wines of the East at www.richardleahy.com, and a boutique winery touring business based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Adventure Wine Tours.


Program Advisory Board

Thank you to the EWE Program Advisory Board for their input, ideas, feedback, and suggestions that continue to make the EWE Conference stronger every year.

  • Peter Bell, Fox Run Vineyards, New York
  • Tim Benedict, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, New York
  • Jerry Forest, Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Pennsylvania
  • Patty Held, Patty Held Consulting, Missouri
  • Lucie Morton, Lucie Morton Consulting, Virginia
  • Tom Payette, Tom Payette Wine Consulting, Virginia