What I learned at this year’s Unified Wine Symposium

The wine industry is an interesting business to be in. And one of the most interesting things to do in this interesting business is to attend the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, held each year at the Sacramento convention center. It is the largest single gathering for the wine business in North America, and it runs for 3 days each January. www.unifiedsymposium.org

I have been attending this event for quite a few years, and was there again this year on Wednesday, January 24th . Coming to the Unified gives me an opportunity to re-connect with my colleagues in the wine business that I wouldn’t otherwise see. It also gives me that chance to discover new parts of the business that I would not otherwise ever know about.

To be clear, when someone says that they work in the wine business, they may not necessarily be making wine or growing grapes. Like any business, there is a deep network of products & services necessary for a wine business to operate successfully. However, I’m always surprised by the diversity and variety of businesses that show up each year to strengthen their network.

There were folks from the entire spectrum of products and services – Tractors, wine tank manufacturers, bottling line equipment, glass bottles, corks, caps, boxes, oak barrels, banks, universities, scientists, software companies, staffing and labor companies, law firms, accountants, etc. I could go on and on. (Plus there were just a couple of wineries and winemakers who bring wine to taste!)

This year I had fun talking to Kerster’s Falconry (provide falcons to vineyards for pest management) and Yamaha Precision Agriculture (using drones to spray vineyards.)

As you can see, it is a pretty diverse list. This symposium provides everyone that has some connection to the wine business an opportunity to discover new things and shop for ideas. (Did I mention that there are wineries and winemakers who bring wine to taste!)

If you are in any way connected to the wine business, or looking to be, I’d recommend that you attend next year’s Unified. This year’s entry into the trade show was just $35 for early birds (before January 16th). That’s a pretty reasonable price for the opportunities you’ll find there.  If you want to attend any of the sessions, including the annual State of the Wine Industry, the price is a little more at $265 (also early bird), but well worth it to hear from those who are in the know.  If you aren’t able to attend this one, there are a number of other wine industry trade shows (Q+I, WiVi, etc.) that happen throughout the state at different times of the year. I look forward to catching up with you at the next one!

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