Wine Business Monthly Acquires WITS, The Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Wine Business Monthly Acquires WITS, The Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Wine Business Monthly Acquires WITS,

The Wine Industry Technology Symposium

11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium Taking Place Today Developed for Wine Business Leaders, Marketers, Innovators in 2005

 

(NAPA, Calif.) – The Wine Communications Group’s Wine Business Monthly announced the acquisition of WITS, the Wine Industry Technology Symposium® today in Napa, CA. WITS® was founded in 2005 and is conducting its 11th Annual symposium today and Friday.

Eric Jorgensen, President of Wine Communications Group, said, “We have always had a strong interest in how the wine industry uses technology. Smoke and Lesley have done a remarkable job over the past decade of bringing the industry together around this important topic. We welcome both of them and everyone involved with WITS to the Wine Communications Group family”

“The Wine Industry Technology Symposium has been responsible for raising the level of dialogue and thinking around technology in the wine industry. I am proud of our efforts at bringing the industry together around these important topics and of playing our small part in improving wine business practices. Most importantly, I’m grateful to the many people who have played a role in making WITS a success over the years. It would never have been possible without Kathy and Waunice at the Wine Symposium Group, our Winery CIOs and Advisory Board and all the great sponsors going back to the beginning. I have many friends as a result of WITS who have enriched my life in so many ways,” said J. Smoke Wallin, founder and co-chairman of WITS.

WITS Promo PHoto

“I have long admired Eric’s team and vision for the Wine Communications Group. WITS will be a perfect fit to their strategic vision, which gives WITS a long-term platform upon which to thrive. This was our most important criteria in a partner for WITS,” said Lesley Berglund, co-chairman of WITS and co-founder and chairman of the Wine Industry Sales Education (WISE) Academy.

The transaction is expected to close in July and terms were not disclosed.

About Wine Communications Group:

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Wine Communications Group, Inc. is the leading information and services provider for the global wine industry.
Publishers of winebusiness.com, the leading web site for the trade, and two of the industry’s leading print publications, Wine Business Monthly and Wines & Vines, we are dedicated to meeting the wine industry’s needs for information, analysis, resources and tools. Wine Communications Group, Inc has put together a suite of products that bring to the industry practical information, cutting edge research, recruiting tools, daily news services and a comprehensive directory.

 

About WITS:

wits logo

The Wine Industry Technology Symposium® (WITS) is the focal point for thought leadership in the strategic and tactical use of technology in the global wine industry. WITS was created in 2005 by a group of wine industry and technology professionals to advance innovation and to address the unique information technology and service needs of the wine industry. The 11th annual WITS is June 25 – 26, 2015 in Napa, California. To learn more, join WITS on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

 

For more information, go to www.WineIndustryTechnologySymposium.com

Wine and Tech Innovators Gathering this week in Napa

Wine and Tech Innovators Gathering this week in Napa

Wine and Tech Innovators Gathering this week in Napa

11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Developed for Wine Business Leaders, Marketers, Innovators

 WITS collage 2015

(NAPA, Calif.) – Technology leaders in both marketing and wine including Brad Rosen of DRYNC, Joe Rosenberg of Google, Paul Mabray of VinTank a W20 Company, Michael Pavone of quench, Brian Rosen of Rosen Retail for Adult Beverage, Josh Saunders of Uncorkd and Max Kalehoff of Social Code are set to engage and inspire attendees with the latest information and ideas this week at the 11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) set for June 25-26, 2015 at the Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California.

Brad Rosen, CEO of DRYNC shared, “The biggest game changer is consumer expectation. The convenience of mobile technology in particular has set a new bar – MAGIC. If your experience is not magical, it is essentially useless in the eyes of the consumer. Immediate access to products at a competitive price and personalized service are table stakes. Consumers have no tolerance for the mediocre, little patience, and high expectations for special treatment. Like never before, you need to know each individual customer and cater to their needs… now.”

“While the information shared at WITS is the foundation of the program, the incredible tech-related experts from both inside and outside the wine business drive the event, ignite the sharing of ideas and really fire up the pace! This year we have a rich, multi-layered program of inspirational keynote presentations and idea-sparking round table discussions with experts on the first day, as well as the more in-depth breakout sessions on day number two,” said Lesley Berglund, co-chairman of WITS and co-founder and chairman of the Wine Industry Sales Education (WISE) Academy.

Paul Mabray of VinTank, A W20 Company said, “Technology and the ‘internet of things’ allows us to bypass traditional market research, which many times becomes stale by the time it’s complete, and opens up opportunities around location-based marketing, identifying influencers and our customer’s interests. Now we can learn in real time who our target audience is, what they’re talking about and interested in online, and actually pivot in the middle of campaigns, if necessary. We’re able to reach our ‘true market’ instead of guessing about a broader audience.”

“The Wine Industry Technology Symposium has always kept pace with the rapidly evolving technology of the day. It’s transformational as we produce this event year after year, to reveal the hottest trends emerging at the crossroads of wine and technology from marketing and consumer interaction to wine production and vineyard management,” said J. Smoke Wallin, founder and co-chairman of WITS.

To really use hand-on technology to take things to the next level, “Multi-rotor small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAVs), commonly known as drones, provide the opportunity for exceptional high-definition aerial still photography and videography. The resulting imagery can be used by winery owners in developing marketing campaigns, while vineyard owners find aerial imagery useful in identifying problem spots and leveraging the additional perspective for general vineyard maintenance,” shared Jim Brammer of Soaring Vistas Media.

Registration is now open, attendees can view the entire two-day program and register at www.wineindustrytechnologysymposium.com.

About WITS:

The Wine Industry Technology Symposium® (WITS) is the focal point for thought leadership in the strategic and tactical use of technology in the global wine industry. WITS was created in 2005 by a group of wine industry and technology professionals to advance innovation and to address the unique information technology and service needs of the wine industry. The 11th annual WITS will be held June 25 – 26, 2015 in Napa, California. To learn more, join WITS on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

For more information, go to www.WineIndustryTechnologySymposium.com or contact Waunice Orchid of the Wine Industry Symposium Group at 707-666-2525 or waunice@winesymposium.com.

 

Here is a selection of wineries attending #WITS2015 … Don’t miss out!

Benziger Family Winery,

Mondavi and Family,

Cakebread Cellars,

Caymus Vineyards,

Chateau Montelena Winery,

Clos Du Val Winery,

Constellation Brands,

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant,

Dawns Dream Winery,

Delicato Family Vineyards,

Domaine Carneros,

Duckhorn Vineyards,

eProvenance,

Folio Fine Wine Partners,

Francis Ford Coppola Presents,

Grgich Hill Estates,

Gundlach Bundschu,

J.Lohr Vineyards & Wines,

Jackson Family Wines,

Jamieson Ranch Vineyards,

Kistler Vineyards,

Le Mulet Rouge Vineyards,

Martin Ray Winery,

Mendocino Wine Company,

Opus One Winery,

Pahlmeyer,

Precept Wine,

Ridge Wine,

Robert Young Estate Winery,

Rodney Strong Vineyards,

Scheid Vineyards,

Signorello Estate,

The Hess Collection,

The Other Guys,

Treasury Wine Estates,

Tres Sabores Winery,

Trinchero Family Estates,

USA & Yalumba Wine Company,

Vintage Wine Estates,

Wente Family Estates

Wine and Tech Innovators Gathering this week in Napa

11th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium To Feature Thought Leaders at Strategic Wine Industry Summit

WITS collage 2015

Hot Tech Topics to Include: Explosive Growth of Mobile Apps, Home Alcohol Delivery, Next Gen Cloud Commerce, Security Breach Impact, Central Role of Big Data in Marketing

(NAPA, Calif.) – Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) has announced the keynote speaker line-up for the 11th annual event set for June 25-26, 2015 at the Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California. An action-packed series of keynotes, as well as focused round tables and in-depth breakout sessions, will cover a wide range of tech-related topics critical to the wine industry today including: mobile e-commerce, data breach and security, breakthrough marketing, supply chain innovation, leading edge hospitality systems, new on-premise kegs and product tracking.

“After more than a decade of great conferences, the Wine Industry Technology Symposium has grown and evolved along with the rapid evolution of tech integration in the wine business. This year’s high-impact keynote presentations reflect the dramatic changes in the wine business driven by the millennial generation of consumers and step changes in technology enabling new business models!” said J. Smoke Wallin, founder and co-chairman of WITS.

“Our 2015 program reflects the insight and direction inspired by the Winery Chief Information Officer (CIO) Forum which WITS has hosted for many years,” said Lesley Berglund, co-chairman of WITS and co-founder and chairman of the Wine Industry Sales Education (WISE) Academy.

The Keynote Lineup Includes:

  • What’s In Store, 2016: Game Changers – Laurie Rains, VP Retail Consulting and Analytics Group, Nielsen
  • Social Media & Legal Regulations - John Hinman, Rebecca Stamey-White & John Edwards – Partners, Hinman & Carmichael
  • Are You Ready for the Future? Exploring Futurist Technology & Its Impact on Wine- Dr. Liz Thach, Professor of Wine Business & Management, Sonoma State University &  Joe Rosenberg, Strategic Partner Manager, Emerging Business Development, Google
  • Art of the Possible – Unlocking Digital for the Wine Industry - Bob Pearson, President & Chief Innovation Officer / W2O Group & Paul Mabray, Group Director / W2O Group
  • The Pinterest for Wine? – Linking Wine Discovery With Purchases - Brad Rosen, CEO, DRYNC
  • Observations & Predictions: Dynamic Food & Beverage Trends - Michael Pavone, President & CEO, quench
  • Clarity in the Cloud - Inderjit Bains, Cloud Consulting Director, Oracle
  • Digital First: Why Marketers are Shifting to Data-Driven Advertising - Max Kalehoff, Chief Marketing Officer, SocialCode
  • How the Power of Information can Override Emotional Decision Making in Price and Promotion - Clay Wallin, Director of Sales, Vistaar
  • Bringing Together the Three-Tier System Into One Sales and Educational Funnel - Brian Rosen, Managing Director, Rosen Retail for Adult Beverage
  • How Technology Is Influencing and Winning Over Wine Consumers - Joshua Saunders, Founder & CEO, Uncorkd
  • Security Trends: Data Protection – It’s all about the Data - Richard Rice, Sr. Security Architect, WaveStrong

Registration is now open with early bird pricing available only through Friday, May 29, 2015. Attendees can view the entire two-day program and register at www.wineindustrytechnologysymposium.com.

About WITS:

The Wine Industry Technology Symposium® (WITS) is the focal point for thought leadership in the strategic and tactical use of technology in the global wine industry. WITS was created in 2005 by a group of wine industry and technology professionals to advance innovation and to address the unique information technology and service needs of the wine industry. The 11th annual WITS will be held June 25 – 26, 2015 in Napa, California. To learn more, join WITS on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

For more information, contact Kathy Archer of the Wine Industry Symposium Group at 707-666-2525 or kathy@winesymposium.com. For sponsorship and registration, contact Waunice Orchid of the Wine Industry Symposium Group at 707-666-2525 or waunice@winesymposium.com.

Channel Conflict: 3 Tier Battles Heat Up – Stinging Defeat in KY Raises Questions

Channel Conflict: 3 Tier Battles Heat Up – Stinging Defeat in KY Raises Questions

The headlines and press statements around some of the latest beverage alcohol industry channel conflict are extraordinary and gaining attention across the country.

A new craft brewery is opening up every day, adding to the over 3,000 currently operating in the USA (Brewers Association).   There are 100s of new craft distilleries that have opened up over the past few years with many more in the works (American Distilling Institute). There are more than 7,000 wineries as well (Wines & Vines).

This buds for you

All this growth in new entrants is the result of renewed consumer interest in trying new things. The Millennials have driven much of the new growth and vibrancy. It’s an exciting time in the beverage industry. That said, every large-scale established consumer brand across multiple industries is trying to figure out what to do and how to keep their base, grow it and remain relevant.   Anheuser-Busch Inbev was roundly criticized for their “anti-craft” beer advertisement for Budweise

r during the Super Bowl. As I wrote about, this was them playing the hand they hold and making the best for a giant brand in decline.

These issues are a lot more complex than they appear and have interesting and changing industry alliances. I am constantly asked (last night included) why the laws are the way they are, by consumers and business people who are not from the industry. Here is a brief explanation:

The simple answer is the current legal and regulatory framework in the US is the result of two Constitutional Amendments. The first one was to ban all alcohol aka Prohibition (18th Amendment in 1919). The second one was to repeal Prohibition (21st Amendment 1933). To pass a Constitutional Amendment the Congress must pass it with a 2/3 majority vote in both houses and then it goes to the 50 states and must pass ¾ of the statehouses to become ratified.   A very high bar indeed. Prohibition was a national disaster of epic proportions. However, it was created in response to some significant excesses by the industry and public. A lot of the excesses were blamed on what is known as “Tied-Houses”, whereby the brewers owned the taverns. The drunken excess of many in the public was attributed to the brewers have a direct interest in selling as much beer as possible and controlling the point of consumption. The saying “There is no such thing as a free lunch” came from this era. The brewers would give away free sandwiches at the taverns they owned. Sounds good, but they would salt these sandwiches excessively so that the patrons would drink more beer.

Whether you agree or not that “tied houses” were the root of all evil, this was the majority view when in 1933 the nation’s failed experiment in Prohibition came to an end. Even though it was clear to most that this government intrusion into industry was a disaster, there were still large numbers of anti-alcohol constituents throughout the land. The compromise to get the 21st Amendment passed was to allow each state the absolute right to regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol within its boarders. The 21st Amendment does not have an opinion on tied houses or any other aspect of how the industry does business. The Federal Alcohol Administration Act did spell out specifics on regulations of the industry to insure the revenue and to protect consumers. It did not however, spell out any specifics regarding a “3 tier system”, but rather defers to the 21st Amendment that in turn defers to the states.

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Each state proceeded to set up its own set of laws and regulations.   There are 50 states and 50 sets of laws that while some may resemble each other, none are identical. Layered onto the specific statutes and regulations are the interpretations by alcohol boards or chairmen and the courts.  The most common way in which the states addressed the tied house issue was to legislate a middle tier (wholesaler) to be a buffer between the suppliers and the retailers. This is what is commonly referred to as the 3 tier system. There have always been some states that allowed brewers to own wholesalers, though this was the exception.

In the case of Kentucky’s new law, Anheuser-Busch Inbev has owned distributors there for more than 40 years and had attempted to buy a 3rd. That prompted the wholesalers to attempt to stop them and when other means failed, it ended with this new legislation not only not allowing them to buy the new distributor, but also forcing them to sell their existing businesses. I have no idea of how the courts will view this, but from the sound of it, ABI will not go quietly.

I can’t help but think the latest turn in the 3 tier beverage alcohol industry channel conflict is an example of overreaction that will do nothing but cause further escalation. When one considers all the new brands that have launched and keep launching in beer, spirits and wine and the need for each to find ways to market, it is clear that broad based full line distributors provide a viable route to market for many. All of the main distributors have giant books of brands now, and they serve some very large suppliers and many smaller ones well. In many cases they serve these needs of smaller brands by creating specialty sales divisions. They do not serve every brand well, nor can they. This has created market conditions in most states where a new crop of smaller start up distributors have emerged, primarily handling specialty or craft brands. Where specialty/craft distributors have emerged, they have become a necessary escape valve for small and new brands getting distribution to retail. In markets that allow it, and many states have provisions up to a certain size, craft breweries can self distribute. This is expensive but a necessary option in cases where there are no viable distributors to carry a new brand. Stone Brewery in San Diego and Sun King in Indiana seem to be examples of self-distribution that has been successful. I wonder if this will become more prevalent with spirits as the number of craft distilleries grows.

2015-01-21 11.18.45  IMG_6561The current approach, though ugly at times, has worked to provide a route to market for a thriving craft community.   The pressure to get new brands to market is only going to increase. It is unclear to me where the craft community will end up better off – with strict laws that don’t allow suppliers to own distribution (of any size) or with looser laws that give options. I tend to think most small/new brand will end up supporting a more flexible system, but the bigger brands, that are doing well in the traditional 3 tier system, will support the stricter system.

It may be that there are simply too many competing interests to work out viable solutions to everyone’s satisfaction on these issues. It would certainly be better for the industry if there were agreement as opposed to legal or legislative fights. ABI is a powerful entity as are all the major suppliers. Poking them in the eye with a local legislative win, may end up being a case of winning the battle but losing the war in some ways. It is unclear to me that the KY law actually helps craft brewers or simply hurts ABI or it it even does that. ABI can still control largely the activities of an independent distributor, as they have been able to do, in many other states. What is clear is that this KY battle is not the end to this fight.

It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out. Love to hear your comments or questions. Cheers! Smoke

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Smoke has worked in all 3 tiers of the industry, built beer wine and spirits distributors, owned a craft brewery, a winery, and multiple craft spirits brands.  He built the leading technology for pricing between suppliers, distributors and retailers. He also represented the WSWA as Chairman & President and the Brewers Association on the Government Affairs Committee.

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