WITS 2011 – The place to be for TECHNOLOGY , STRATEGY & WINE

As you know, I’ve Co-Chaired the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) since we created it in 2005.  I’m very excited by the response to this year’s agenda (still shaping up) and our keynote speakers we announced.  Wines & Vines dis a fantastic story on it yesterday.  Here is a bit and you can go to their site for the rest…

Napa, Calif.—Since 2005, the annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) has brought together experts from within and outside the wine business to help growers, wineries and marketers make the most of the newest tools available to them. It’s a moving target, and every year yields valuable insights for both techies and technophobes.

WITS is scheduled this year for Tuesday and Wednesday, July 12 and 13, at the Napa Valley Marriott. Last year’s symposium drew registered attendance of more than 300. Keynote speakers on Wednesday morning will be Leslie Sbrocco, TV host, author and consultant, who will deliver: “The Vision and Technology Behind Thirsty Girl,” a member-driven community celebrating women. Serial entrepreneur Tim Bucher, who has held executive roles with tech icons Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Dell, will take on “Technology and Innovation.”

Wines & Vines, a WITS sponsor, spoke with panelists on a few of the many more specialized sessions to get some juicy details. For the complete schedule and speaker bios, visit wineindustrytechnologysymposium.com.

Here is our announcement on keynotes that went out earlier… contact me if you have any thoughts or ideas to make this year’s event the best ever.  And if you are a strategic thinker, President, GM, CIO or other leader in the wine industry and you want to hang out with your peers and some of the most innovative people in technology and strategy AND enjoy some great wine in Napa don’t miss this event!

Technology and Innovation Leader Tim Bucher & TV Personality and Head Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco to Lead Keynotes for the

Seventh Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium®, July 12-13, 2011

May 19, 2011, Napa, CA – The Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS)®, the premier event showcasing innovation and strategic use of information technology and services for the wine industry, announced headline speakers for its seventh annual conference July 12-13, 2011 at the Marriot Napa Valley.

 

The symposium will open with a technology showcase and hands on experiential workshops on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 12, but the main event takes place on Wednesday, July 13 with the general session and keynote speakers.

Tim Bucher’s Keynote Address is titled “Technology and Innovation”

What do Microsoft, Apple, Dell and WITS all have in common? Alumnus Tim Bucher. Founder and current CEO of Tastingroom.com, Tim Bucher may be the only person in who has served in key executive roles for the big three: Bill Gates at Microsoft, Steve Jobs at Apple, and Michael Dell at Dell. He learned about innovation and business expansion from some of the leading technologists in the industry.

Bucher is a serial entrepreneur who has created several successful companies over the last 23 years, taking one of them public and selling four others for over $1 Billion. Besides Tastingroom.com, Bucher serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Product Officer of Zing Systems, Inc. He founded Mirra, Inc., in 2002. He is also Founder of ispiri. Bucher serves as Chairman of the Board of Mirra, Inc. and ispiri. Mr. Bucher holds an MSEE from Stanford and a BSEE from UC Davis.

Bucher will share his unique perspective on business technology and innovation during his keynote address. Imagine the secrets you will learn from serial entrepreneur Tim Bucher.

Leslie Sbrocco’s Keynote Address is titled “The Vision and Technology Behind Thirsty Girl”

What do Check Please!, the Today Show, and Thirsty Girl have in common? Wine Maven, Leslie Sbrocco, Head Thirsty Girl.  An award-winning author, speaker, wine consultant, television host, and founder of the new multi-media company, Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco built this thriving multi-media company using 100% social media. Thirsty Girl is a member-driven community that celebrates women. “With glass, fork, and plane ticket in hand, Thirsty Girls live life to the fullest.”

Sbrocco has appeared on Check Please!, The Winemakers, and the Today Show as well as had her work published in outlets such as Epicurious.com, O the Oprah magazine, Coastal Living, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping and Glamour among others. She also has published two books, Wine for Women and The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide (William Morrow); she is currently at work on her third book, Adventures of a Thirsty Girl.

Sbrocco and her Social Media Coach Janet Fouts will provide a point-counter-point interplay of ideas put into action through the use of social media, content and live events in their keynote address at WITS 2011. Learn how she has grown Thirsty Girl from scratch to significance – all through social media in just one year.

J. Smoke Wallin, WITS founder and Co-Chair said “I find it incredible to contemplate the vast innovation that we have witnessed since the first WITS in 2005.  Companies like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were either ideas or just getting started.  Apple was not in the music or handheld business. Giving us their unique insights on this rapid innovation both Sbrocco and Bucher will help us gain perspective on how the wine industry is adopting to and benefiting from it all.”

The afternoon on day two will include panel discussions with take home value, an exciting technology showcase and conclude with a rocking wine reception. Panels will have four tracks: Technology Leadership, Consumer Direct Sales, Trade Sales & Marketing and Vineyard & Winery Operations.

For more information about the event schedule and to register today, visit: www.wineindustrytechnologysymposium.com/schedule.html

About Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS)®

The Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) was created in 2005 by a group of wine industry and technology professionals. The purpose of WITS is to address the unique information technology and services needs of the wine industry. WITS is dedicated to bringing the world’s leading wine industry professionals together with some of the world’s leading technology experts to foster learning and discussion. Panels of experts will discuss specific examples and case studies. www.WineIndustryTechnologySymposium.com

 

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Media Contact:

Lesley P. Berglund, co-chair, 707-246-6827

This is a very momentous moment… thanks to everyone who sacrificed over the past decade!

I would like to especially recognize the US military, special forces and intelligence community and to all those many others who have sacrificed since that terrible day in 2001.

Tonight we give tribute to everyone fighting for justice over the past decade. While there are plenty of problems and challenges ahead for the country, our allies and good people of the world, It is a great and momentous moment. A very bad guy and symbol has been taken out. Take a moment and appreciate it. Kind regards, Smoke

Craft Beer sales up 12% in 1st half of 2010! We are seeing massive growth at @napasmith as we roll it out across the US…. more to come!

The Beeradvocate published this fine update the other day about Craft beer sales being up 12% in dollars and outpacing last year’s impressive growth.  Also showing the 10 year growth in numbers of breweries.  

This is perfectly consistent with what we are seeing on Napa Smith Beer as we are rolling out the 4 packs of Organic IPA and Lost Dog Red Ale along with the traditional lines.  We got authorized in all the Bay area Whole Foods and just got authorized in Safeway as well.   We are currently launching Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Florida to name a few markets.  Should have Napa Smith in 50 states by this time next year as well as select European and Asian markets.   Very exciting stuff.

Here is a shot of the new four packs…

Organic IPA 4-pack

Lost Dog 4-Pk

I was hanging with Don Barkley who is one of the most respected and earliest craft brewers in the US having done New Albian in the 1970s and then going on to co-found Mendocino Brewing and Red Tale Ale (which btw, is not what it used to be if you ask me).  He is great to drink beer with and has more great stories around beer than a week of sitting drinking beers could allow.  Anyway, discussing the amazing growth in the business and the numbers of new brewers, I mentioned our latest beer brand, Flat 12 Beirwerks founded in Indianapolis this year and launching this Fall…  its a cool project and the guys behind it are successful entrepreneurs in other industries with a ton of enthusiasm and drive. I think they have a great shot based on the early buzz around the brand and the liquid itself.  Pelican will manage their brand launch and grow it when appropriate to surrounding markets.

Will update soon on new spirits brands and some other exciting news on the Pelican front…

Until next time, Kind Regards,

Smoke

Is anyone serious in Washington?

Those of you who read my occasional posts know I don’t get into political rants on this blog.  Whilst I do have strong opinions on the state of the world, our country and local communities, I generally don’t find it productive to get into shouting matches online.  I’m primarily an entrepreneur and I do business with people all over the world with many political views.  I don’t see politics as a screen for commerce.  This country and indeed most successful countries are built on the backs of individuals who take risks and build businesses. I feel very patriotic when I start a new business and work to create value for shareholders, employees and customers.  I don’t want the government to help me with my businesses, but I ABSOLUTELY  don’t want them in the way either.  Uncertainty on healthcare and tax policy has caused me to not hire several positions in the past months.  I have instead paid outside firms to do some of the work that would be done by our own employees.  I will continue on this path as long as possible.

Alas, given the current state of the US Budget and the latest one submitted by the Obama Administration, and the general lack of what I would view as seriousness in Washington, I am moved to comment here.  The long term government share of US GDP has now expanded to an unsustainable level and I see no willingness to deal with this by making hard choices.  They call economics the “dismal science” for a reason.  It is about trade offs and choices.  One can’t have it all.  Government cannot simply continue to take productive resources (private) and shift them to largely unproductive uses (government spending) and expect good results.  GOVERNMENT is not the answer, it is a significant part of the problem.  I was one of the independent minded libertarian leaning conservatives who was so upset with the growth in spending in the Bush Administration.

But instead of correcting this course, President Obama and the Congress have actually made it much much worse.  The trajectory is horrendous.  How can anyone who is serious actually think it is okay to support such unsustainable spending and frankly a shift to the next generation of the responsibility to pay for it all.  #LEADERSHIPNOT #FAIL.  Wake up.  The Republicans as a whole don’t “deserve” to be in leadership either based on their record over the past decade, they lost their way.    Bush to his credit did TRY to make Social Security reform a major tenant at the beginning of term II, but he got stopped by his own party and then they started losing elections.  He also did not seem to know how to veto anything and went along with the expansion of government, so he does not deserve any credit here.

There are exceptions.   I was heartened to read about Rep Paul Ryan’s well thought out budget proposal to close the gap.  Here is a clip I found in the Washington Post discussing it:

Rep. Paul Ryan’s daring budget proposal

ryanflips.JPGThe White House’s 2011 budget is only the second-most interesting budget proposal released recently. First prize goes to Congressman Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, who’s released a budget proposal that actually erases the massive long-term deficit.

That’s not mere press release braggadocio. CBO agrees (pdf). Under the CBO’s likeliest long-term scenario, deficits are at 42 percent of GDP in 2080. Under Ryan’s proposal, we’re seeing surpluses of 5 percent of GDP by that time….  FULL ARTICLE HERE

My question is (as was asked by one of my friends on Facebook when I posted it on my page)

“Problem is that I haven’t even seen the GOP provide support for it. It’s like they are afraid of it being successful or something. I give props to the guy for actually giving it serious thought and working through a tough proposal. Wish more of our elected officials thought that was part of their job.”

So what gives… why haven’t we heard a lot more about this?  why are the Republican leaders on the talk shows talking about this budget?  Why don’t they get behind it?  Are they?

I say vote out anyone who does not actually work to fix this problem.  Elect only those who actually commit to closing the gap. HERE IS THE PLATFORM:  Shrink spending now, fix entitlements (Yes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security at the Federal level and Public sector pensions at the State level), get government out of the way.  If you want to “fix” healthcare, shift to a consumer oriented system where we have a direct connection to choices we make and what it costs us.

[Healthcare Aside: I moved our companies to Health Savings Accounts a few years ago and have had great experience with this as a positive factor.  If everyone had HSAs and we created a safety net for catastrophic coverage for all, we would change behavior and create competition in the health market.]

On Entitlements:  You don’t run away from this, actually stand up and run on it.  Create a mandate.   You don’t need to touch any entitlement that is already in action (ie if you are already retired), simply change the deal for all of us who are still working and phase it in.  If you are 60, keep it as is.  If you are 50, you can’t get benefits until 70 years old.  If you are 40 or below, make it 75 and let us invest part of OUR money directly.  Seriously, stop the madness.

Oh, and we are at war with a relentless enemy…

Is anyone serious in Washington?

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