For the last couple of days I played hooky from classes, truly only missing one morning class on Wednesday as all others were cancelled, to attend this annual wine conference. Last month my husband had to chase around the country attending Potato Conferences as a vendor, hard on the heels of last week’s Washington-Oregon Potato Conference in the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, Washington is the WAWGG Convention or the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers Convention.
Yup, farmers of all stripes gather in their ‘off’ season to catch up on certifications (i.e. pest management), breaking research (i.e. fining agents for wines), and various other business topics – and they visit with people they hardly see during the busiest months from planting/pruning through harvest/crush. There are vendors in booths throughout the facilities, in this case overflowing into the Toyota Center where the bulk of the booths were set up. I actually felt sorry for the equipment guys that had booths outside in the single digit temperatures. There was a fire pit with a huge fire burning in front of one, a cramped tent with a couple of propane heaters at another but for the most part it was just plain COLD to look at the equipment. Too cold to stop and take a picture on my way between buildings.
All day Wednesday and Thursday I participated in sessions covering marketing, branding, defining and sharing wines, or grapes in the case of vineyards. There were sessions geared more toward trellising and pruning and nematode issues in the vineyard which I didn’t feel were as pertinent to me personally as the business side of things. There will be more winery related sessions Friday, but I will be back in class.
Rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the Washington Wine industry, both growers and wine makers. Meeting fellow students from other programs and vendors with interesting takes on the industry from their sales-person-perspective made for a fun and informative couple of days.