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See the Latest in Winery Management Software at the Wine Industry Technology Symposium

We often hear that great wine is made in the vineyard. There is a lot of truth in that. But that doesn’t mean it’s simple to carry the excellence of a vineyard all the way through to the wine. Nor is it easy to get that wine, profitably, into the hands of consumers who will love it. The locavore notwithstanding, we no longer live in a world where wine is made in rustic conditions and consumed within a mile or two of the winery.

The wine business is large, global and extremely competitive. Increasingly wineries are turning to technology to optimize their business. Technology is used to measure and control conditions in the vineyard and in fermentation tanks. It tracks inventory and sales, smooths the logistics of transport and ensures that wine club reps know customers’ preferences when they call.


The Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) is a two-day conference that helps winery management learn about the latest developments in information technology and how they might best apply it. This year, WITS takes place on July 10 - 11 at the Napa Valley Marriott. Workshop topics will include Customer Relationship Management (CRM), managing transportation networks, winery value analysis, tracking direct-to-consumer sales and new vineyard technologies. There will also be sessions on social media, brand building, cloud payment technologies and more. A technology showcase will let winery management connect directly with the providers of products and services. There will also be plenty of opportunity for the person-to-person to kind of networking.

J. Smoke Wallin is one of the founders and a co-chairman of the Wine Industry Technology Symposium. While a vendor of software aimed at the drinks business, he found no conferences in the industry with a software focus. He contacted organizers of existing, general conferences and none wanted to increase their focus on technology. So, he banded together with other software companies and they created WITS. This will be the eight annual symposium.

The event has always been held in Napa and draws 300 - 400 attendees each year. Between all of those attendees and the many showcase exhibits, the Napa Marriott is the only event space in Napa Valley large enough to host WITS.

One way to measure the value of an event is by the percentage of people that attend more than once. According to Smoke Wallin, quite a few wineries have attended every one of the conferences and around 50% of the individuals in any given year have attended previously. To me, that means the content is compelling and fresh, but there are also enough new attendees to make networking interesting.

The content of WITS is driven by wineries themselves, especially through the advisory board which includes representatives from eight wineries. The symposium is intended to address the interests of major beverage companies such as Constellation and Gallo but also medium-sized family wineries. Attendees come from many different winery departments, including ownership and executive management, managers of IT, sales and marketing, winemakers and vineyard managers. Some distributors and retailers attend as well. Most attendees are from the North Coast, but others come from the Central Coast, the East Coast and even overseas.

More details and registration for the Wine Industry Technology Symposium can be found at their website.


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This article is original to Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. The WITS logo is the property of the Wine Industry Technology Symposium. All rights reserved.