Michigan Wine Conference 2014 Preview
“Being near Traverse City provides Conference attendees with a broad range of options including many wineries and restaurants within a short distance of the Grand Traverse Resort,” Jones said. “We also want to reach out to the wineries in the Petoskey/Charlevoix area and bring the event closer to this rapidly growing segment of the Michigan wine industry,” Jones said.
Moving the Michigan Conference to Traverse City, which is gaining national notoriety as a fashionable small city, is not without precedent however.
For 10 years, the Michigan Conference was at Crystal Mountain, which is 30 miles south of Traverse City. “We really enjoyed being at Crystal Mountain,” Jones said. “Back then, it was like a family retreat and a wine conference combined.”
But a lot has changed in the past 10 years as the Michigan wine industry has grown to around 200 wineries. The Michigan Wine Conference attracted over 300 attendees last year and Jones expects a bigger turnout this year. Jones said a larger venue, like the Grand Traverse Resort, provides room for the forty trade show exhibitors that are anticipated. (Twenty six exhibitors had registered as of early December.)
Holding the Conference in Traverse City also provides the opportunity for a guided tour of nearby wineries. On Friday, February 28th, starting at 8:00 a.m., there will be a “Tour of Northwest Wineries” led by Sherri Goodreau of the Grape and Wine Industry Council. (Attendence to the tour is limited.)
“The winery tour will give Conference attendees from other areas an up close look at a well established Midwest wine region,” Jones said. During the tour, local winery owners and winemakers will talk about starting a winery and the challenges and opportunities of the regional wine industry.
Other sessions at the Michigan Wine Conference include:
“How To Deal With Difficult Situations in the Tasting Room”- Craig Root from St. Helena, California will explore common challenges like children in the tasting room, self pouring guests, and the all too familiar loud limo tour group.
“Wine Tasting: Recognition of Wine Flaws”- This popular session on sensory evaluation will be led this year by Todd Steiner, the enology program manager for Ohio State University. A separate $15 fees includes a tasting of wines with common faults.
“Defining Grape and Wine Quality Between Growers and Wineries”- Lisa Asimont, director of grower relations at Francis Coppola Winery in California, will lead a discussion about the relationship between vineyard practices and wine quality. Leading Michigan winemakers Sean O’Keefe and Charles Edson will also participate in this session.
For 2014, the keynote speaker for the Thursday banquet will be John Martini, owner and president of Anthony Road Winery in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. John will share his experiences about building an award-winning winery in an emerging wine region that has earned national and international recognition.
Jones said that the Michigan Conference strives to present a mix of respected speakers from both Michigan and outside the state. Such a broad range of perspectives makes the Michigan Conference a draw for wine professionals from across the Midwest.
“We welcome people from neighboring states like Illinois and Wisconsin to attend our Conference,” Jones said. “Cross pollinating ideas from across the region helps us all.”
For more information see: Michigan Wines