Day 3 Highlights: 2020 Wine Media Conference Virtual Summit #WMC20

I’ll write about anything if you’ll pay me!
— Marcy Gordon, panelist
2020 Wine Media Virtual Summit

Another Wine Media Conference has come and gone, albeit this time, virtually, and I had to wash all the wine glasses and make all the food and dance all by myself…

As usual, I learned a lot, and I found it well worth my time. Below you’ll find some highlights and an overview of Day Three.

Check out Day One Highlights.

Check out Day Two Highlights.

Check out attendee videos including mine!

Saturday, August 22

9 AM Writing About the Business of Wine

Many wine writers start with the basics by reviewing wines then move into stories about wineries, winemakers, grape varietals, and wine regions. But this leaves an entire aspect of wine – the business of wine – that is often left to the professional periodicals to write about or simply left uncovered. Yet the business of wine – the process that goes from farm through production to consumer – is a topic of immense importance and one open to all wine writers. In fact, in this session we’ll discuss why covering the business of wine is important, how all wine writers can move into writing about this side of the industry, why it is actually easier to get paid assignments covering the industry side, and what tips and tricks there are for doing so professionally and with broad appeal. Our panel includes Felicity Carter of Meininger’s Wine Business International, Elin McCoy of Bloomberg News, and moderator Cyril Penn of Wine Business Monthly.


  • Felicity: A story has a story. It’s not just a topic. Wjat’s happening? Who’s doing what where?
  • Elin: Think of a question, write it down, then answer that question in the article.
  • Cyril: Follow up a story already published.

When interviewing someone, Elin suggests:

  • A successful interview is more like a conversation.
  • Ask if there’s anything I missed that I should ask about?
  • Get beyond a basic profile to the heart of a person.
  • A profile is not just about the wine.
  • What brings a person to life?
  • Ask followup questions.

ALSO: Check out the journalism resource “Poynter”; I suggested people check out this journalism conference.

11 AM Travel Writing for Wine Media

Wine writers often stick to the subject they know best: wine. Yet adding travel to your writing brings a number of benefits. For SEO purposes, the number of readers searching for stories about travel vastly outnumbers those searching for wine. In dollar terms, including travel can open opportunities for paid writing or funded trips. But perhaps more important is that wine goes well with both travel, giving your writing the chance to shine and be more appealing to your readers. In this panel, we’ll hear from a number of wine writers who successfully integrate travel into their writing. Our panelists include travel and wine writer Marcy Gordon and Per Karlsson from BKWine Magazine with moderator Frank Morgan from Drink What YOU Like.

Marcy: I’ll write about anything if you’ll pay me!

  • Marcy: Wine and travel are both first and foremost about a sense of place. Wine is part of the culture of many places, and she says it can be easier to pitch a travel story with a wine and food angle by people who know about wine and food– like us!
  • Marcy: You are the story, you are the conduit, you offer the personality and the perspective.
  • Per: Travel writing is 4x as popular as wine writing.

Marcy recommends this travel conference in Corte Madera in the Napa/Sonoma wine area where she made lots of great contacts about 12 years ago that really got her going in this area. She also offers more tips in this followup blog post.

Per has promised to supply the graphs and other stats he shared; in the meantime you can purchase this session or an all access pass. You can also sign up for his informative newsletter!

UPDATE: Per says “You can find the charts I used, as well as more details comments and opinions in this write-up:

ALSO: Frank did a great job moderating and contributing!

1 PM When They Let Us Visit Again – How to Plan the Best Possible and Most Information-rich Wine Country Visit:

COVID has given wine tourism a time out. Though our current travel is relegated to the couch or the computer, each of us will be itching to visit critical wine areas as soon as we’re allowed back onto planes. What are the steps we should take to protect ourselves when traveling in the COVID era? How should we judge a region’s ability to host visitors responsibly? And once we’ve decided where we want to go, how can we best maximize our visits to that region. Join Master of Wine Bree Boskov, award-winning writer and photographer Lauren Mowery and Doug Frost, MS, MW as they outline their strategies for planning and executing information rich tours of the world’s vineyard areas. For each of them, there are differing goals that apply to different places; they explain their rationales for choosing certain itineraries over others. How many days is ideal? How many visits a day are best? Should you rely upon local writers, or regional councils, to set up your tours? And what focus might be brought to bear if you are traveling to some of the most exciting vineyard spots? Learn what each of them think is most important to learn from the most traditional and the most revolutionary winemakers, and the places that are most emotionally resonant for them.

In this session, the challenges of COVID travel prevailed. Lauren in particular shared the many questions she’s asking to ensure safety — how to travel safe and smart. “Free” press trips can be great but what do they really cost?


  • Find a personal connection
  • Create a unique hook
  • Tell the “real” stories
  • What are stories to tell related to the pandemic and the wine industry

3 PM PT/ 6 PM ET Wine Media in 2020 – Where Do We Stand?:

2020 has proven to be a crazy year with a pandemic, recession, and Black Lives Matter protests. And we are just over halfway through. These events have affected everyone in the world, including wine writers. We’ll talk to several of them to hear their views on the turbulence affecting the world, how their year has been affected, what they are doing to adjust, and how they are planning for 2021. Our panelists include moderator Alder Yarrow of Vinography, Max Allen from Australia, Thaddeus Buggs, and R.H. Drexel.

This session was very personal, and mostly I listened to the stories the panelists shared, but we also commented, and Alder was very skilled at picking up threads and sharing them with everyone.


  • Would we have had such deep, personal, and political conversations if these sessions, especially this one, would have been held on a stage?
  • How could people on the sideline be heard in a. traditional venue?
  • What stories can I tell that will bring people joy? hope?
  • How can we remind people what we have to look forward to when this comes to an end?

4:30 PM At-Home Tasting With Oregon Wine Board, a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry, with biodynamic wine Troon Vineyardand Winderlea Vineyard and Winery.

6 PM At-Home Tasting With WineSmith, “A Message in Every Bottle”: Tasting with Clark Smith, winemaker for WineSmith Wines & Consulting and author of Postmodern Winemaking, Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 2013 Book of the Year.

Stay tuned and subscribe so you don’t miss out on the details about my At-Home Tasting with Velenosi!

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