Their success; their ability to effectively communicate about spanish and portuguese wine; their energy to grow and create dynamic, authentic and extraordinary services have attracted hundreds of thousands of iberian wine lovers from around the world.
Joan Gómez Pallarès http://www.devinis.org/

Final Thoughts Regarding Wine Future 2009

IMG_2623

As you all know, Ryan and I went to Wine Future with a team of 4 additional people: Michael Oudyn, Raymond Magourty, Eduardo Benito and Juan Manuel Gonzalvo. Robert McIntosh was also a key player on our team, adding an immense amount to the Live Blog and Twitter stream, while perfectly balancing his other hat as a Dinastia Vivanco representative. All of these people deserve full recognition for their fantastic work, determination and passion in making our Wine Future social media campaign work seamlessly. We are very proud of each of their contributions, and hope this is just one of many campaigns we can work as a solid team.

That said, many people have asked for a personal wrap-up article on what we thought of Wine Future. Ryan will be giving you his perspective as a speaker in the coming days, but for now, there are three areas I’d like to cover regarding Wine Future: live blogging, conference organizing and the content provided. (picture taken on the Marques de Riscal 2nd floor patio)

Live Blogging

Over the years, we’ve live blogged a handful of events, but never have we buckled down and committed ourselves to this degree. Consequently, there were a few things we took away from the experience. Despite our continual reminders that this was a live blog, and not a direct transcript of the event, many people found themselves quoting directly from our text, rather than taking information contextually. This posses an interesting problem for anyone live blogging. As I’m typing as fast as humanly possible to garner as much information as I possible can in the shortest amount of time, the information I’m providing is not necessarily in context, but rather in bullet point fashion. Therefore, should a live blog provide information contextually? Is our goal to write down as much as we possibly can for your to decipher? How can we do this successfully?

Interestingly, I believe that the live blogging tool, as we know it now, will change dramatically in a very short amount of time. I see live stream video being played in a live blog, which would eliminate the need for us to “transcribe”. Our future role will be to upload photos, monitor comments and add our experiences when appropriate. However, this is not the case today, requiring us to garner more feedback as to what you want from someone live blogging. In what ways can we offer you the information you want successfully?

The Organization of Wine Future

IMG_2613Generally speaking, I think that Wine Future was a huge success on an organizational level. Having organized the EWBC with 130 people over 3 days, I can tell you that herding 1,000 people for 2 days is no easy feat. It takes impeccable timing, an amazing team and beyond all else, really good luck. I give Pancho Campo and his team huge kudos for not only pulling off an event of this caliber – despite the attention his extracurricular activities are requiring at the moment, but also to do it seamlessly. I dare say that I’m not entirely confident that I could do the same.

Where does improvement lie? Clearly, the focus next event should be on tools we can use to better the wine industry, rather than taking those 15 minutes for speakers to push their product and/or company. In my opinion, it is the organizers responsibility to be clear with each and every speaker as to what their role is. Secondarily, lunches should not be an act of extreme “hunting and gathering”, as experienced on both Thursday and Friday. Instead, there should be a balance between buffet items and tapas served by waiters roaming the floor. Thirdly, the grand tasting should have enough empty table space that people can write their notes on paper or a computer without knocking over glasses. Fourthly, we need to be eco-friendly. Organizers should cut down on paper (as seen in the speakers gift bag), consider asking producers to eliminate heavy bottles from their pouring table, and find any and all ways to promote sustainability whenever possible. Finally, technology needs to be adequately thought through, and acted upon, before a “futuristic” event is pulled off. Ample outlets and powerstrips should be provided, and open WIFI needs to be available to everyone, rather than requiring hacking jobs or secret networks.

The Content of Wine Future

This was truly a hit or miss situation, where approximately 30% of the speakers did a stellar job focusing on innovative solutions, while the other 70% focused on their amazing accomplishments as an individual or a company. The overall topics, however, were generally interesting, and could have had a major impact if done well.

Where we succeeded as a conference, however, was the final take-away message. Despite the ebb and flow in quality of content, almost all the speakers concluded that our future focus must be on the following: listening to and acting on consumer needs; researching new technologies that will dramatically impact the way we communicate our message; adopting viticultural techniques and packaging that respect nature; reducing overhead and consolidating portfolios in order to survive tough economic times. Every one of these messages are powerful and need to be heard, and adopted, by each and every one of us in our own lives. If the message truly sunk in, I couldn’t be more pleased.

The question being, what did we need to hear? What topics weren’t discussed that should of? For me, there were two major gaps that needed to be discussed that weren’t: winemaking techniques and wine education. Other than sustainability, winemakers had a very small role in presenting their view of wine’s future, which I fear was a major pitfall. Additionally, wine education was narrowed to encouraging membership, rather than debating pedagogy and effective teaching techniques.  My hope that that wine future will give these two areas the rightful place they deserve. (photo by vivancowineculture)

Summary

As with all conferences, the first one is always an act of experimentation, and as long as the organizers listen to the feedback given, I can only expect improvement.

Was the content worth the money spent per ticket? I’ve heard mixed reviews on this. Some say absolutely, others feel less optimistic. We personally had a great run at the conference, taking networking opportunities where we could. So for us, it was worth it.

My question to you is: what topics do you feel are imperative to discuss for the future of wine?

Cheers,

Gabriella Opaz

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  • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

    Guys, I think you mean Michael Oudyn instead of Oyden.

    • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

      Doh! Completely correct and it’s fixed :) Thanks Justin!

  • http://wineconversation.com Robert (thirstforwine)

    great wrap-up

    working on a similar post of my own, but much of the points are covered here – as usual, you get there first :)

    so great to work with you guys!!

  • http://www.winetravelguides.com Wink Lorch

    Thanks for the summary. You guys did such a fantastic job on the live feed.

    At the time, I could certainly appreciate the potential problems that we, the followers of the live blog, had of mis-quoting the speakers by quoting you. I think that it was most evident (but also perhaps most excusable) in the tweets that we all did where the 140-character limit meant that we tended to say: “Speaker x says: we should change the world” rather than “@catavino reports that Speaker x says: we should change the world”. It’s certainly the reponsibility of anyone writing blog posts or other articles that did not attend for real to make sure they got your message that this was YOUR live report, not an exact transcript. You did right by reminding people regularly.

    Yes, the live video streaming in future would be great if it really worked to the required quality. It did cross my mind a couple of times that for years and years, we’ve watched and listened to live concerts with suitable commentary at home on TV and radio, and to wonder if live streaming (or live blogging for that matter) is not such a new idea after all. Of course, the point is that this can now be done at ALL events at very low expense, whereas concert coverage (by the BBC for example) was always hugely costly.

    Thank you again – really enjoyed the experiencing the development of this technology as well as the conference itself.

  • Zev Robinson

    It wasn’t so much the content but the style that bothered me somewhat. I would have preferred debates between the participants rather than speeches, and would have liked to see the audience get the mic and ask questions and follow ups.
    That caused a separation between the audience on one hand and the organizers and speakers on the other, and from what I have heard from both sides, the perception of the event is quite different depending whether you were on the inside or out.
    But as you have pointed out, Gabriella, it is a first time event, and hopefully that will be improved next time ’round. Personally, I would like it closer to EWBC in feel and structure.
    The other thing I wonder about is the lack of wine makers as speakers which is a content issue. I hope it is an oversight, but it makes it seem as if the future of wine is in the hands of marketers and writers telling the wine makers what to do.
    I had a good time and am glad I went to check it out for myself. Saw friends and got some good footage, especially of great marathon wine taster Juan Manuel Gonzalvo doing the tasting rounds.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    I think I horrifically failed my gender by not highlighting the lack of women on the panel as well. If I were to make one other change in the future, more women would raise their experienced and talented voices on the subject of the future of wine.

    • http://alicefeiring.com Alice Feiring

      Regarding women, that’s okay. Jancis brought it up in her charmingly disarming way. By the way, what if anything, did Kevin Z. bring to the plate? I see his picture up there but can’t figure out what he had to offer?

      • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

        It’s a good question Alice. What did Kevin specifically bring to the floor? As a person, I really enjoyed him. Intelligent, witty, humorous, a great public speaker, and an advocate for social media, he was a wonderful person to meet. Where I felt a little let down, or confused, was the program he’s launching with Robert Parker called, The Wine Certification Program . Maybe I’m missing the boat on this, but how is this program legitimately teaching about wine, especially if I have the Oxford Companion to Wine at my side during the testing process?

    • ALISON DILLON

      whilst watching your video of the High Alcohol debate it did cross my mind that there was just one woman and one reasonably young man (Justin H-S) and that the other panellists, although no doubt of impeccable pedigree and experience, were more about WinePast than WineFuture? Some young winemakers (male and female) would be good next time round don’t you think?

  • nicojames

    Nice wrap up Gabriella.
    Like your contribution and the way you’ve focused all that info.

    The Future needs to focus more on the word “future” and not what is or has been and how big my company is. A nice analysis of trends or forecasts in trends for the next coming years for instance. What about consumers? Are we targeting them in the right way? What is it they want? What can the ine industry do, to improve the state of affairs? Is facebook and Twitter the answer to all our problems? I think not.

    I see technology being a key tool and obviously blogging as a means to get closer to the consumer and these are tools to help us to achieve something better. But if the industry doesn’t look itself in the mirror and ask some key questions in order to change its way of thinking, then nothing much will happen.

  • http://insiderioja.wordpress.com Tom Perry

    My thoughts are that the event was well organized and kudos to the Wine Academy for arranging attendance by such a cast of past and present leading lights from the industry.

    However, because the objective of the event was to discuss the future of the wine industry, the presentations about social media as well as those by Jeremy Benson and Robert Joseph were the most pertinent. However, in my opinion, other important industry issues weren’t touched on, such as the route to market for many small wineries given the concentration of distribution and the difficulty to arrange cross border direct sales from wineries to consumers. I think it would have been interesting to hear from the ‘Free the Grapes’ movement(Tom Wark)for example.

    While initially sceptical about the success of the event, I have to say that it was mostly very interesting and informative.

    • http://www.ryanopaz.com Ryan

      Completely agree there should have been more leading figures such as Tom Wark, Paul Mabray, and someone from Vinfolio, Cellartracker or Adegga.

      Also would have liked to have seem some wine making talks…what is there future there? Biodynamics?

  • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

    I had to attend vicariously through Catavino.net. I think you guys did a fantastic job of looping us in.

    Like many I was a bit disappointed by the sales pitches and old information being regurgitated, but the heart rate did go up on occasion when things got very interesting.

    Finally, I can’t help feeling uncomfortable by the wine world’s seeming inability to confront the Pancho Campo criminal conviction head on. Everyone is carrying on as if it simply does not exist because Mr Campo is able to pull together big names and put on a good show. I certainly think the MW qualification has been devalued by all of this.

    • Derek Kranenborg

      Justin – not sure what the MW qualification has to do with this? Mr Campo’s action, whether they will prove to be criminal or not are unrelated, have nothing to do with this qualification, nor with his ability to pull of a good conference. Not sure how you conclude the MW qualification is devalued by all of this? I for one feel that Mr Campo has already been judged quite harshly in the wine world (e.g. Decanter) and the next months will play out for him as they will. Whether the conference met all objectives and expectations of those attending and watching, it certainly put the spotlight on Spain, Rioja and wine in general – surely a positive thing for all of us involved….?

      • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

        Derek,

        I completely disagree that having a criminal conviction and being and MW are unrelated. I find it hard to understand how you could even come to such a conclusion. They should be mutually exclusive.

        • Derek Kranenborg

          Justin – it`s probably semantics and how I read it. At the level of the individual, of course it matters. And if the Institute, or any organisation for that matter suspends an individual, than it could be the right thing to do. The way I read it, and what I reacted to, was that you write it as if the whole qualification of MW is devalued because of the actions of one individual. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The value of an accreditation is in the knowledge it requires and what it represents. Your point, I suspect, is that if the Institute were to not react to a member with a criminal record, it would undermine what the Institute stands for and I agree that you would have a point there.

          • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

            Derek, I’m glad you agree with me that something like this, if not dealt with in the right way, will undermine the integrity of an institution.

            I’m just taking that one step further. If the institution’s integrity is damaged then surely the qualifications it awards is devalued in some way.

            I am working hard at getting my WSET Diploma and had aspirations to eventually join the MW program, but now I’m not so sure I want to be a member of an organisation which behaves more like a private members’ club rather than a professional institute they claim to be.

          • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

            Apologies for the terrible grammar below!

    • http://www.ryanopaz.com Ryan

      Justin I’m really not sure how Pancho’s actions reflect at all on the MW qualification? What do they have to do with each other? Also if others were criminally convicted of other crimes, falsely or otherwise, should they be removed from the MW program? How can the MW be devalued even if one of it’s members is convicted?

      Hopefully we learn the full story in the months and weeks to come so that we know what really happened. Then we can at least judge it with the facts. But for now Pancho is alleged to have done something. I rather not start with a guilty till proven innocent attitude.

      In the end if he is guilty he should pay for his crime and at that time the MW’s might want to talk, but until then, why not wait and see what comes of it.

      -Point of curiousity? Is MW a title, or a post, or a membership? If it’s a title, how can it be removed? I really don’t know what it is…From my position you earned it, and it would be like taking a degree back from a college graduate because they got in trouble with the law. Is this correct?

      • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

        Ryan, this is not a case of an allegation and innocent until proven guilty. Mr Campo has already been found guilty.

        In early June 2002 Mr Campo was found guilty of breach of trust (i.e. wilful misappropriation or fraud) in a Dubai criminal court and a sentence was passed. This is a fact.

        Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe an MW to be a qualification, i.e. certification by a professional body, much like the ACA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants to use one example.

        The reason why I focused on the MW is because it is probably the most prominent qualification in the wine world, and Mr Campo is undoubtedly a very prominent member its ranks.

        In a situation like this other similar professional bodies would almost certainly suspended the member pending an investigation. I believe that is the correct approach, the right thing to do.

        The investigation might well find that the conviction had been unsafe, that there had been a miscarriage of justice, and for Mr Campo’s sake I hope it would find something like that, but the way things have been handled to date just puts the IOMW’s integrity into question and so therefore devalues the MW qualification.

        • http://jerezwine.com Justin Roberts

          Correction: that was June 2003

          • nicojames

            Hot topic Justin, but you could have a point…

            I thought he wasn’t going to moderate any of the debates because of all these allegations, but obviously not.

            Anyway maybe the MW Institute thinks the allegations aren’t strong enough to warrant suspension.As far as I know there are no more developments in the press on the subject. Looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

            However eventhough there are shadows lurking over the whole affair, from the comments I have seen and the feedback, Pancho Campo did a marvellous job on the organisational front and indeed in pulling together all these different speakers and the whole event for that matter.

            Guess he’s innocent until proven guilty……

  • http://www.vinopigro.it Lizzy

    Well done – ops! written – Gabriella, as usual.
    I do agree with you and Ryan (next time I wish to see Tom Wark, or Adler, or… you know what I mean!)
    And I’m sad to realize that in Italy NOBODY knews about this event. Where our national tv, RAI, MEDIASET were??? Where my colleagues journalists were? The truth is that Italy think about Italy and its problems. And stop.
    But the world is out there…

    :-/

    Lizzy

  • Derek Kranenborg

    Gabriella – you guys did a great job brining the conference to those who couldn’t attend. I felt the topics where a bit “thin” overall but I certainly paid attention to the bits on social media etc. I am “start up” wine educator and I am really focused on using the power of social media to offer services in new ways.
    Thanks.

  • Yair Haidu

    Thanks Ryan & Gabriella for a great journalistic effort
    live, dynamic, daring, engaged
    couldn’t agree more about your conclusion of the 30%-70%
    Hence it is the Pareto law, but it is still frustrating.
    So many potentially great speakers giving so little to the audience and rather selling their soup
    not a word on the quality of wine itself or how to improve it intrinsically
    kudos Ryan for pointing out the poorly treated Education seminar
    indeed probably the Achilles heel of the two days
    and yet, a very promising beginning of tradition to be continued
    thanks for your great work

    Yair Haidu

  • http://gerrydawesspain.blogspot.com Gerry Dawes

    First off, I want to congratulate you Gabriella and Ryan both for your event coverage of WineFutureRioja 2009. I think that this coverage–which you would have done equally well regardless of the event–has propelled you both into the big time and I think it is a well-deserved success (and I know the hard work you both put in to achieve this), so, in no way is it may intention to rain on your personal parade, but I do have some comments.

    Gabriella wrote: “Generally speaking, I think that Wine Future was a huge success on an organizational level. . .I give Pancho Campo and his team huge kudos for not only pulling off an event of this caliber – despite the attention his extracurricular activities are requiring at the moment, but also to do it seamlessly.

    Where does improvement lie? Clearly, the focus next event should be on tools we can use to better the wine industry, rather than taking those 15 minutes for speakers to push their product and/or company. In my opinion, it is the organizers responsibility to be clear with each and every speaker as to what their role is. Secondarily, lunches should not be an act of extreme “hunting and gathering”, as experienced on both Thursday and Friday. Instead, there should be a balance between buffet items and tapas served by waiters roaming the floor. Thirdly, the grand tasting should have enough empty table space that people can write their notes on paper or a computer without knocking over glasses. Fourthly, we need to be eco-friendly. Organizers should cut down on paper (as seen in the speakers gift bag), consider asking producers to eliminate heavy bottles from their pouring table, and find any and all ways to promote sustainability whenever possible. Finally, technology needs to be adequately thought through, and acted upon, before a “futuristic” event is pulled off. Ample outlets and powerstrips should be provided, and open WIFI needs to be available to everyone, rather than requiring hacking jobs or secret networks.”

    I guess I would quibble with Gabriella’s choice of the word “seamlessly” here.

    Because of your excellent reports, I am now able to catch up with some of what transpired at WF-Rioja 2009. I could not be there for a couple of reasons: 1) I was in Napa Valley at the CIA-Worlds of Flavor-Frontiers of Flavor Conference, a sold out affair, at which I moderated a general session (with Paco Roncero, Seamus Mullen and Albert Asin), three seminars on Spanish and Catalan cuisine and was one of the panelists on the closing general session; 2) I was not invited to WF-Rioja 2009; 3) I would not have gone to the conference had I been invited and did not have to speak at the Worlds of Flavor event on the same days.

    Why? Because of Pancho Campo’s Dubai conviction, sentencing by the court to a year in jail, followed by deportation?

    No, not really, that, as Campo has stated, could be “Dubai justice (though, if it were me, I might be a bit more careful about tarring a wealthy emirate with such a brush if I had “a rich family” doing business there).

    What I object to about Pancho Campo is his message about Spanish wine–with all his big wine industry backers. Are we really to try to push Spanish wines in Burger King and follow the monster company models of Constellation, Diageo (whose Bordeaux “bloodbath” sell off the week before the conference is the talk of the wine trade) to solve Spain’s problems, which include many vine growers whose families have been on their land forever in danger of losing that land. And, yes, I resent Robert Parker being honored like some potentate–including an audience with King Juan Carlos I–when he had neither the interest, curiosity, professionalism, respect, nor I think honor, to show up in Spain for 38 years (which encompasses his entire wine writing career), yet he has been telling the world how “good Spanish wine” should taste for 30 years, claiming “when tasted from barrel” about a Spanish wine on at least three occasions in print and giving astronomical scores to Spanish wines that I personally find neither Spanish, nor, to my palate, drinkable.

    Just so you further understand where I am coming from, as someone who has been traveling the wine roads of Spain for 40 years and writing about Spanish gastronomy and wine for almost that long; has been awareded Spain’s Premio Nacional de Gastronomia and was telling Americans how great Spain was beginning in the mid-1970s, I vehemently resent being called by Pancho Campo’s lawyer, Alfonso Martinez, and threatened with all kinds of actions including litigation for passing a confidential third-party e-mail to Kevin Zraly on AUGUST 31.

    This was before any of the details about Pancho Campo’s troubles in Dubai, at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and at the Hotel Miguel Angel in Madrid had surfaced or were published (the first Jim Budd/Adam Lechmere article on Campo’s difficulties was published on Decanter.com on September 2). Since then much more information on the Campo case has been verified, so what was I being threatened for: passing this now verified information to Kevin Zraly, supposedly totally in confidence (see below)?

    You can read more about this saga in my Open Letter to Kevin Zraly on my blog and you can find multiple posts on Jim Budd’s blog.

    On Betrayal of Confidence and Threats to Journalists: An Open Letter to Kevin Zraly, Technical Director of the Recently Concluded WineFuture-Rioja 2009 http://gerrydawesspain.blogspot.com/2009/10/open-letter-to-kevin-zraly-acting.html

    Now that the conference is over, I cannot be accused of publishing this information to short-circuit the conference, but, to me at least, what is clear here is the complicity of the majority of the press outlets to coverup details of this whole affair because it is not good for the image of today’s wine business.

    Like America’s Watergate, the coverup is worse than any crime Pancho Campo may have been convicted of in Dubai.

    Again, congratulations on your excellent coverage of this event. I hope it has served as a proving ground for what I know will be well-deserved future successes for both you and Ryan.

    Saludos, Gerry

  • http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/ Jim Budd

    Ryan

    Congratulations to Catavino and the team for the coverage.

    However, I’m sorry Ryan I don’t understand this comment:

    ‘But for now Pancho is alleged to have done something. I rather not start with a guilty till proven innocent attitude.’

    Perhaps you could enlighten me please?

    • http://www.ryanopaz.com Ryan

      I guess I see this all as a “we are not sure what has happened” case, and in truth I wish Pancho would just get on a site, any site, and give us a few lines of what happened so that we can all move on. I know very little of the details, but I do like what Pancho has accomplished and I do hope that as he says, he’s innocent. Therefore I do hope that he simply states what the facts are, and we can all then move on.

      On the other hand, if I were in his position, which even if he is sparkling clean, would be one where I think would be very difficult, I can totally understand his silence. I do believe he is innocent, and I do want to support him. Hopefully time will allow the truth to come out. For now though I will not pass judgement since I know plenty of people who were convicted incorrectly, or maliciously. He deserves the right to take time to clean up this mess, and put it behind him, and hopefully resolve outstanding questions.

      So far though he is still doing a lot of positive stuff for Spanish wines, and for now I have to give him credit for that.

      • http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/ Jim Budd

        Ryan I fear you will be disappointed but it does show the decency of many in the wine trade who are reluctant to believe ill of others. This decency has been used by Campo – the email message to speakers at WineRioja sent in early September when Pancho was not straight with the very people he was asking for their support.

  • http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/ Jim Budd

    Derek Kranenbourg: ‘I for one feel that Mr Campo has already been judged quite harshly in the wine world (e.g. Decanter)’

    Derek, I would point out that Melissa, Pancho’s wife, told me that she thought that 4th September Decanter news item was ‘a balanced story’.

    Or are you saying that a conviction for fraud is not a legitimate news story?

    • Derek Kranenborg

      Jim: not questioning the legitimacy of the story at all. My comment was in response to Justin Roberts who commented about “the wine world’s seeming inability to confront the Pancho Campo criminal conviction head on”, which I don’t think has been the case. I think it has been addressed, but for some perhaps not thoroughly enough. Would we rather have seen the conference cancelled, or Mr Campo stripped of his MW credentials? These are questions for the Institute and others to debate.

      • http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/ Jim Budd

        Derek – firstly I would not have been in favour of cancelling the conference. However, I do think that Pancho Campo and, in particular, the initial funding of The Wine Academy of Spain have not received proper scrutiny. There has been a tendency to say well the offense occurred away from Spain and not in the same line of business. There are still some who maintain that Campo is not guilty when the available evidence clearly points to a conviction and flight while awaiting trial.

        Has he breached the Institute of MWs code of conduct? That is for the Institute to decide. However, here is perhaps one relevant passage in the MW code of conduct.

        ‘Wine legislation endeavours to offer protection from dishonesty and, in particular, much is devised to ensure authenticity. However, legislation does not always define precisely what is honourable and correct. The Institute will take action not only when any infringement of the law is proved, but also when a member’s commercial conduct does not appear to conform with the highest ethical standards. The public recognition of its willingness to act in such circumstances can only enhance the Institute’s reputation and influence.’

        I don’t know whether the Institute is concerned only about infringement of wine laws or whether conforming to ‘the highest ethical standards’ covers the criminal law as well.

  • http://www.sommelieralumni.org Alex Duran

    Great Ryan & Gabriella for your job!

  • http://laotrabotella.com Manuel Camblor

    Ryan, Gabriella, Juan Manuel and the rest of the CataVino team deserve great praise for the amazing job they did. The coverage of WFR09 was fantastic and the live blogging extremely useful. I had few problems identifying the speakers quoted, as I was following Juan Manuel’s Spanish commentary. He made sure to include names at one point or another. Of course, with the quick pace and all the intervening tweets, at times things could get a bit confusing. But in the end I think whoever read keenly could get a clear enough picture.

    Gabriella,

    I find your comments on the “success” of the event a bit conflicting. “Seamlessness”, at least in my view, requires a bit more than getting a thousand souls into a building and not having a riot break out.

    The lack of proper resources for live bloggers (the WiFi issues, the unavailability of power strips) at a conference that–one would expect–expresses the “state of the art” today is, frankly, worrisome to me. As oversights go, this is pretty major.

    Also, if lunch involved “extreme hunting and gathering”, I’m not sure how that can provide for a “seamless” experience.

    And the content… Well, if 70% of the speakers were mere wine schnooks and shills (I believe these are accepted terms in the trade? :-) ) doing what wine schnooks and shills do, perhaps there was a bit more seam (and plumage) showing than intellectual honesty and decorum warranted. Somehow, even with the most tolerant of eyes, I can’t see that much was said or done at the conference that was in any way groundbreaking or truly original. Of course, I wasn’t there. Maybe Gary V.’s virtuoso performance really was the bomb.

    I have been hearing all sorts of different opinions about WFR09. Very few have been glowing reviews without qualifications about “things that could have been done much better”. “Seamlessness?” I dunno.

    As far as the exchange above re. Mr. Campo: My blog (http://laotrabotella.com) has been one of the few places on the Spanish-language wine internet where the affair was given much coverage. I have always taken an attitude of allowing facts to emerge and then judging. I even extended a number of invitations to Pancho Campo to make a statement using my blog, in order to clarify matters. I posed questions that got a couple of Campo flunkies to come out of the woodwork and say something or other, usually not very useful in any direction. But the way matters have been handled tends to make one a bit mistrustful, especially given a certain track record on the part of Mr. Campo regarding business dealings that go sour. Or does “court case in Marbella” not ring a bell?

    At any rate, the Pancho Campo affair is a complex one where there are way more questions than answers. Can we hope that changes?

    Once again, to the CataVino team: Amazing job. Keep up the great work.

    Best,

    Manuel

    • http://www.ryanopaz.com Ryan

      Manuel, THanks for the note and I’ll let Gabriella respond to most of it when she gets back in. But a couple of the points need to be addressed. As far as WIFI, I have been doing events for 5 years in Iberia. The WIFI here failed for parts of the first day and rarely was 100% in the main auditorium, this was “not seamless” and yet I have never been to an event that has succeeded 100% of the time. This building was not built with the “future” in mind! :) Sadly you are right here, but I have to say, I would have BEEN STUNNED if it did work. We bought 3g connections knowing that it wouldn’t work. I also know that multiple meetings were had to make this right, and sadly Rioja Forum Failed.

      As to the original content there was a lot. This I know. Jeremy Benson, Robert Joseph, Miguel Torres, Gary V, hopefully myself, Constellations presentation, and a handful of others were truly well done, and very interesting. Sadly the poor presentations by individuals like Steven Spurrier overshadowed these. I have to say, I do think there were topics not covered that should have been, but hopefully we can see that next year(as promised there is supposed to be a second edition).

      In the end I do agree Seamless might be a bit too broad, though I have to say, having run conferences, and with the intention to do many more. More went right with this conference than went wrong. I hope future editions are done much better.

      As to Pancho’s personal/public issues, he has been given an open forum here to post as you have also offered him. I just hope he takes one of us up on it. I would really help the situation.

      Thanks for the compliments, and I look forward to speaking with you again soon!

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  • http://www.spinthebottleny.com Sasha

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for the incredible coverage you provided of this event. Provides an interesting counterpoint to the discussion you’re having over at http://www.wineconversation.com. The immediacy and access these platforms allow is great, but the result is only as good as the knowledge, context and point of view of whoever is using them — you guys obviously have all in spades. Thanks, interesting stuff.

  • http://laotrabotella.com Manuel Camblor

    Ryan,

    I guess the whole “Future” bit just increased expectations. “Stunned” was the least I expected people to be, considering… The event may have been a victim of its own hype. From this far-removed vantage point, it seems like just another conference.

    Oh, and yes, your presentation was very good, too. It’s just that for a moment it was Vaynerchukmania… I forgot to congratulate you on delivering what must have been one of the high points of the event.

    Spurrier basically soiled himself in public, poor thing. Of course, from what I read, there were other snippets from other speakers that were also quite embarrassing. But I think I’ve cathected them by now. :-)

    And I don’t know about biodynamics or any other such label. Wine is the future of wine. Real wine, not marketing-driven b.s. One of the great things about social media is that it’s brought attention to natural and bio wine, compartmentalizing things in a way the Big Wine Industry can’t seem to envision. Niche markets are legion and there are ways of tapping into them without abusing or cretinizing them (sorry, but I cringe every time I hear one of those suited Wine Biz types prattle about “the consumer”, which seems to be industry code for “infinitely gullible morons”).

    Ah, but that’s a whole other conversation, isn’t it?

    Best,

    Manuel

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella Opaz

    Dear Manuel and Gerry,

    Sorry for the delay, but my parents are in town, which pushed my response up a few days. Allow to explain why I used the term “seamless”. Having organized a few major international events myself- none to the degree of Pancho, however- I am completely sympathetic of the time, effort, logistics and planning involved in such an event. The amount of sheer determination it takes is astounding, not to mention the regional politics here in Spain. Therefore, to put on an event of this magnitude, without a major gaff (such as dinner not being available, major sponsors pulling out last minute due to sponsorship conflicts with neighboring regions, sound systems not working or key presenters like Robert Parker not showing up) is impressive.

    Issues such as “extreme hunting and gathering” is difficult to predict prior to a 1,000 person event, as you’re relatively clueless how catering will actually pan out. Equally true, it’s really difficult to find an space ANYWHERE in Spain that will not only be decked out with enough outlets for laptops, but consistent WIFI. The point being, that these issues, albeit important to fix for next year, are not life and death problems. Let’s be honest, there will always be problems for an event. The breaking point for me being, are they big enough to sabotage the future of the event. In this case, no. Hence, the term “seamless”.

    Where I might agree with you is the issue of self serving speakers, but again, could you have predicted that they would have used their time like this prior to the event? Maybe yes, maybe no. My thoughts on the issue is that although they did use their time in such a wasteful manner, it’s been INCREDIBLY beneficial to the entire trade because it served as a wake up call for wine conferences as a whole. The message being: commercial plugs will only backfire, while quality education and learning opportunities will catapult you forward. From a marketing standpoint, those speakers who truly wish to forward their brand will heed this warning when agreeing to speaking at future events. Again, maybe my glass is naively half-full, but I saw this as a huge plus.