For the past three days Holly and I have been attending "License to Steal," a wine marketing conference in eastern Ohio. The venue is nice -- The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake -- and right in the middle of one of Ohio's winemaking regions.
We attended the last conference in November 2006 and got some good information from it.
You know, you always pick up good ideas when you get a bunch of wine marketers together. But generally, I was a bit disappointed in the conference. It was slapped together at the last minute, didn't have a good sense of its audience, and was too basic.
However, one great session was entitled "Varietals." We didn't know what to expect -- normally a varietal session would include wine tasting. But this session was all about three different regions that are promoting (or have plans to promote) three different wines: Riesling, Norton, and Traminette.
Of course, that's great for us because we make two out of the three.
Norton is a grape grown in Missouri and surrounding states. It's the only grape (out of the three featured) we don't use. It requires warmer temperatures than what we have here in south-central Michigan. Norton is a native grape, but without the foxiness of most natives. It reminds me of Chancellor, one of the nicest of the red French Hybrids. They're making fabulous Norton wines in Missouri and have made it their official state wine. Visit nortonsays.com, a website they've developed as part of a comprehensive branding project.
The Riesling presentation was based on the new International Riesling Foundation. I've heard bits and pieces about it, but was happy to get the whole story. We'll have to get involved...
And Indiana is starting to work on making Traminette its official state grape and do something similar to what Missouri is doing. Of course, that's great news for us. We have lots of friends in Indiana. And any publicity/education about Traminette is bound to help us. The more people who know the grape and like the wines, the better!