The fifth annual Southeastern United Grape and Wine Symposium hosted by Surry Community College Nov. 16 at the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology on the college’s Dobson campus will include leading educators in viticulture and enology from educational institutions such as North Carolina State University, Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as various industry experts. The symposium’s focus this year is “Crafting Southeastern Wines.”
Jerry Douglas, president of Biltmore Estate Wine Division, will be the keynote speaker in a presentation titled, “Are You Sure You Know What Business You’re In?” Douglas is responsible for marketing, production and sales of all Biltmore wine both on-site and throughout the United States. Douglas has been active in many national wine industry organizations including the American Vintners’ Association, the American Institute of Wine and Food, and the North Carolina Wine and Grape Council. He is a founding member of the Wine Market Council, where he serves as a board member. During the program, Douglas will reflect on his experience in wine marketing with a specific emphasis on the crucial element of hospitality and how it is the driving force behind any winery’s success.
In addition to Douglas, the program will include Dr. Charles Safley, department head at North Carolina State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Safley develops business models for North Carolina farmers growing a variety of small fruits, and also has used his wealth of industry knowledge to teach and help agricultural professionals in eastern Honduras, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Bulgaria. Safley will present the findings from his North Carolina Wine Consumer Survey. The discussion will focus on identifying the consumer bases in wine markets across North Carolina, Virginia and New York to help winery managers make better marketing decisions for their products and services.
Winery consultant Patty Held will share her insights in a lecture entitled “How to Run a Successful Wine Trail: Brand Your Region, Communicate with Customers, Sell Tons of Tickets.” Held’s topics will be centered around the idea that potential customers are overwhelmed with the number of ways to spend their hard-earned dollars. Held’s advice is to make their decision easier by organizing themed wine trail events featuring locally crafted wines and foods. Then, increase awareness for the wine trail brand by getting found online with an optimized website, communicate with visitors via email marketing and watch sales grow.
Held graduated from California State University at Fresno with a bachelor’s degree in enology and then went on to become the winemaker at Taylor Wine Company in New York before returning to her family-owned winery, Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri, where she served as director of public relations and special events. Held has her own winery consulting business, Patty Held Winery Consulting. She has served as a judge at prestigious wine competitions across the country and was instrumental in forming the Hermann Wine Trail. She is an adjunct online instructor for VESTA, teaching Small Winery and Tasting Room Management classes along with serving as America’s Wine Trail’s industry advisor and part of the marketing team for the website and mobile app.
As a part of the symposium, the Grand Wine Tasting on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. will highlight wines of the Southeast complemented by heavy hors d’oeuvres. The Grand Wine Tasting is open to the public for a non-conference rate of $25. The entire conference registration is $120 and includes the Grand Wine Tasting and the Pruning and Winter Vineyard Management Workshop on Nov. 15. Those registering before Oct. 15 save $40 for early bird registration. Participants can register for the entire symposium or the Grand Wine Tasting at surry.edu/wine. Additional VESTA workshops are being offered before and after the symposium.