OWB’s education manager, Bree Stock MW, attended the 2019 DTC Wine Symposium in Concord, California on Jan. 23-24. Below is her summary of the event and key takeaways for Oregon wine producers.


About the conference

The annual DTC Wine Symposium was held Jan. 23-24, 2019 in Concord, California. This conference is presented by and a fundraiser for Free the Grapes! The event has raised more than $1 million for Free the Grapes’ PR campaign and the Coalition for Free Trade’s legal work (CFT “retired” in 2014 after achieving its goals). These two groups have worked closely with industry lobbyists and regional associations to streamline onerous shipping regulations and to increase the number of legal states from 17 to 45, which represent 95% of the U.S. population. The conference is the primary fundraiser for Free the Grapes!, which executes state-specific advocacy campaigns encouraging  consumers to write their legislators, and working with media and advocacy groups to keep the issue alive.

All presentation are available as PDFs.

2019 conference recap

Four keynote speakers over the two-day conference provided a combination of broad updates on the DTC marketplace, while two thought-provoking speakers from outside the wine industry inspired collaboration, creative thinking and insights surrounding dysfunctional beliefs.

Executive director of the Design Program at Stanford, Bill Burnett, delivered a keynote that set the scene for the conference providing tools to think and succeed with the mindset of design and how to identify and work beyond dysfunctional beliefs.

A preview of the 2018 ShipCompliant data revealed that Oregon is uniquely positioned to continue to capitalize on market trends in the DtC channel.

Day two’s keynote featured Kristi Faulkner, president of WomenKind. Her research revealed some staggering figures and reminded the audience that the economic power of women – especially millennials – as well as consumers of color and the LGBTQ community continues to trend upward. Did you know that 57% of high frequency drinkers are women? That there are 7 million more women in the U.S. population than men and yet the wine industry over-indexes in wine club and tourism promotion to male baby boomers? Women actually outspend men, $7 trillion annually compared to $2 trillion for men, directly correlating to their relationship with subscription services and willingness to pay for these services and clubs. The research presented provided key takeaways on how important diversity and inclusion are to any business, how the wine industry can more effectively market to a broader audience and how brands can differentiate through inclusivity to increase return on investment.

The Oregon Wine Symposium Feb. 12-13 will feature a number of speakers and organizations that were also presenting at the DTC conference. Below is a wrap-up of the highlights.

The workshop sessions and town halls highlights included membership and events, hospitality, email and social media marketing, all centered on the importance of offering a unique and authentic experience to consumers to increase wine club memberships and retention. VingDirect director Tammy Boatright identified the need to build a relationship with your email database and wine club through meaningful communication, and recommends surveying their needs to increase retention. Susie Tucker of VingDirect will be presenting Connect, Invite, Close: The Art of Selling at the Oregon Wine Symposium.

A wine tourism seminar titled “Built it, now will they come?” discussed the issue of increasing competition and a shift from wine “sampling” to “experiencing,” and how the tasting room landscape has changed in recent years. Dr. Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business at Sonoma State University, directed a panel that discussed current trends in tasting room traffic, how technology has changed visitors’ planning, and the importance of creating advantageous strategic partnerships to build engagement and stand out from the crowd. Dr. Wilson will be presenting his current research findings at the Oregon Wine Symposium seminar, Outlook on the Wine Sector: Managing the Changing Generational Demographics and Market Dynamics.

Lesley Berglund from WISE Academy presented a compelling seminar with managers from acclaimed wineries who revealed that they rely on their DTC dashboards to make better data-driven decisions about their own customers’ buying habits and that they also utilize listening tools, such as wine club surveys, mystery shopping and social feedback, to tell them why their metrics appear this way. Then, they can look at how their own metrics compare to their competitive set – wineries of a similar size within their region – through new benchmarking tools available to the industry. Lesley will appear at two seminars at the Oregon Wine Symposium: Attract and Retain: Best HR Practices and the Oregon Wine Industry Salary Survey and Metrics that Matter: How to Leverage 2018 Data to Drive 2019 Success. Be sure to ask her about these advanced DTC strategies.

Better yet, there are also a couple of places still available for the WISE classes in Portland on Feb. 11 (Tasting Room Management) and Feb. 14 (DTC Metrics Intensive), sponsored by the Oregon Wine Board and offered at a subsidized cost of $55 per person.