2017 Sessions & Workshops

Join the Quality Revolution!

This year’s theme is “The Quality Revolution” and the conference will examine closely new “quality driven” trends in the marketplace and the expected impact on the overall wine and beverage category. Interactive discussions, led by industry experts will highlight innovations in production, packaging, sales & marketing and the effect on quality and consumer impression. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about anticipated changes in lending, legislation, legal and compliance and ensure they are prepared for success in 2017.

“This conference will provide a wealth of up-to-date, practical information as well as great networking opportunities to share experiences, knowledge, and a glass or two of fine wine. The Washington, D.C. venue adds layers of benefits for both business and pleasure.” Jim Trezise, President, New York Wine & Grape Foundation
"Our members are excited that a new wine industry conference and trade show has been established to address the most current business challenges and opportunities this region faces. The fact that it’s in Washington, D.C. — a huge wine market in the center of the Eastern wine region — is a critical draw.” Kevin Atticks, Executive Director, Maryland Wineries Association

Social / Networking Events

USBevX Conference and Trade Show passes include access to 3 networking events, beginning with our Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening from 5:30pm—8:00pm. On Thursday, mingle with attendees and exhibitors at our Exhibit Hall Happy Hour from 2:30pm—5:30pm. Finally, on Friday, enjoy our Exhibit Hall Food & Beverage Tasting from 12:00pm—1:30pm. Each event includes a special selection of Wine, Craft Beer, Spirits & Cider carefully paired with a variety of hors d'oeuvres prepared by the Marriott Wardman Park Chef.

Wednesday 2/22 - 2017

Workshop #1:    Wednesday 2/22 10:30am - 11:30am

The Business Climate for Wine: A Lobbyist’s View of the New Washington and the Beverage Alcohol Industry


There are business challenges and opportunities facing the wine industry being addressed in Washington, D.C. and at the state level that every winery principal should be aware of. This session, led by WineAmerica and public policy experts, will highlight the issues and provide insider insights into what the industry can expect in the upcoming year and how you can help improve the business climate for wine in America.


Jim Trezise

President / New York Wine & Grape Foundation


Tara Good

Director of Operations / WineAmerica

Michael Kaiser

Director of Public Affairs / WineAmerica

Larry D. Meyers

President / Meyers & Associates

Donniella Winchell

Executive Director / Ohio Wine Producers Association

Workshop #2:   Wednesday 2/22 10:30am - 11:30am

Against All Odds - Quality Farming in Eastern & Midwestern Winegrape Growing


The "Quality Revolution" for the Eastern and Midwest Wine Industry begins in the vineyard. Despite extraordinary challenges from the weather, top quality winegrapes are being grown. Learn from leading viticulture professionals about the latest farming trends and vineyard innovations and their impact on what’s in the bottle.


Brian Yost

Wine Writer / The Virginia Grape


David M. Collins

Winemaker, Co-Owner / Big Cork Vineyards

Richard Olsen-Harbich

Winemaker / Bedell Cellars

Joyce Rigby

Vineyard & Winery Consultant / Rigby Viniculture
Instructor of Enology & Viticulture / Harrisburg Area Community College

Workshop #3:   Wednesday 2/22 10:30am - 11:30am

Financing Your Quality Initiatives


Producing a top quality product takes more than the just good intentions. It often requires an economic commitment as well. What are your options? Is an SBA loan the right choice? How does crowd-funding work? Luckily, in today’s world, there are many ways to access capital, including channels you may not have considered. Learn from a financial expert what the various options are from traditional and non-traditional sources, and the pros and cons of each.

Presented By:

Jeff Clark

Wine and Beverage Loans / Live Oak Bank

Workshop #4:   Wednesday 2/22 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Whole Cluster Inclusion: Exploring Quality Trends in Eastern Winemaking
(part 1 of 2)


Stem inclusion can enhance tannin structure in wine, as well as impart flavor complexity. However, they often impart "green" characteristics, and can make the tannin structure more harsh and unbalanced. Stems can even decrease color intensity by acting as an adsorbent of pigment. The greatest challenge is finding the right balance of stem character and fruit character. The Winemaker's Research Exchange will lead a production workshop, including a trial tasting, sharing the results of two following projects:

  1. Whole Cluster Inclusion Cabernet Franc (Keswick Vineyards):
    One block of Cabernet Franc was destemmed and separated into different T-bins, with T-bins having different levels of stem inclusion from 0%, 10%, 20%, and 30% for a total of 4 experimental lots.
  2. Whole Cluster Inclusion Cabernet Franc (King Family Vineyards):
    One block of Cabernet Franc was harvested and separated into three bins. The first bin received 100% destemmed (but not crushed) grapes, the second bin received 60% destemmed (but not crushed) grapes and 40% whole cluster, and the third bin received 10% destemmed and crushed grapes and 90% whole cluster grapes, for a total of 3 experimental lots.


Michael Attanasi

Research Exchange Coordinator / Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange

Stephen Barnard

Winemaker, Vineyard Manager / Keswick Vineyards

Matthieu Finot

Winemaker / King Family Vineyards

Workshop #5:   Wednesday 2/22 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Expanding Distribution: Successfully Negotiating and Managing Distributor Agreements & Relationships


Increasing distributor consolidation, explosive brand proliferation, tension among industry tiers and a rapidly changing global marketplace threaten to undermine the mutual goal of suppliers and distributors – to sell their products and enhance the value of their brands. This session will highlight the advantages of meaningful partnerships between suppliers and distributors via the use of mutually beneficial agreements, managed expectations, shared promotional efforts and regular communication.

After a brief introduction to the concepts above, the presentation will focus first on how a small producer can successfully negotiate a distribution agreement - even when all the leverage seems to lie with the distributor. Attendees will learn critical strategies to bring to the bargaining table, including which key provisions of an agreement to fight for versus which ones to let go. We’ll then discuss managing the distributor relationship in order to optimize sales and brand exposure. Annual operating plans and performance metrics, tracking distributor performance, and the role that distributors expect producers to play in promoting their brands will also be discussed.

Presented By:

Suzanne DeGalan

Partner / Hinman & Carmichael LLP

Workshop #6:   Wednesday 2/22 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Pioneering the Commitment to Quality: A Roundtable Discussion with Winemaking Trailblazers


Making wine in the East and Midwest is fraught with adversity. Meet true winemaking pioneers who, despite the challenges, have consistently produced well respected, highly-regarded wines. They will share the experiences, trials and successes they have faced over the years. Most importantly, they will talk about why they believe their regions are perfectly positioned for more success in the future.


Frank Morgan

Wine Writer/Blogger
Associate Editor of Virginia Wine Lover Magazine


Joshua Grainer

Winemaker / RdV Vineyards

Jim Law

Owner, Winemaker / Linden Vineyards

Richard Olsen-Harbich

Winemaker / Bedell Cellars

Luca Paschina

Winemaker, GM / Barboursville Vineyards

Workshop #7:   Wednesday 2/22 3:00pm - 4:00pm

What Big Data Can Do For YOU


Whether you’re a large producer or someone just getting started, we’re all aware that we’re living in the age of Big Data. We know it’s out there. We know it’s bound to be helpful to our business regardless of the amount we produce. Yet the beverage industry is lagging far behind in adopting the practices and tools that could truly raise us to the next level. Our own bottom line, and our delivery of consumer wine experiences, all stand to benefit. In this dynamic and informative session, a leading communicator and analyst shares insights on big data, its potential, and most importantly its applications in the day-to-day business of wine.

Presented By:

Cathy Huyghe

Co-Founder / Enolytics

Thursday 2/23 - 2017

General Session #1:    Thursday 2/23 8:45am - 10:00am

State of the Wine & Beverage Industry: "The Quality Revolution"


Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, will lead the General Session that will look closely at the growth of the Eastern and Midwestern Wine & Craft Beverage industries.

The program will open with Wine vs. Craft, 2016 Scorecard. How did wine perform in 2016? How are wine drinkers interacting with spirits and craft beer and what is the impact on wine? How do east coast trends differ from west coast and national trends? Danelle Kosmal and Matthew Crompton with the Beverage Alcohol Practice at Nielsen, will provide an overview of the wine category's performance in 2016, both on and off premise, and discuss recent consumer trends that are influencing the wine category.

This will be followed by an interactive session featuring industry experts discussing the conference theme "The Quality Revolution" and sharing their perspective on what that means to the region.


Dr. Damien Wilson

Chair of Wine Business Education / SSU Wine Business Institute


Patrick Comiskey

Senior Correspondent / Wine & Spirits Magazine

Matthew Crompton

Associate Client Director / Nielsen CGA

Monika Elling

CEO / Foundations Marketing Group

Danelle Kosmal

Vice President / Nielsen Beverage Alcohol Practice

Workshop #8:   Thursday 2/23 11:00am - 12:00pm

Social Media Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Keep Making


Almost every producer uses some form of social media, but are you making the most of it? Do you have questions on how to grow your subscribers? How to get followers to engage more? Which social media platforms work best for business? Learn from successful social media experts what works and especially what not to do. Social Media is not the way of the future, it’s the way of the present and this workshop will ensure you’re prepared to make the most of the channel.


Allison Levine

Owner / Please The Palate


Luiz Alberto

Wine Educator & Communicator

Monika Elling

CEO / Foundations Marketing Group

Ryan Krill

President, Co-Founder / Cape May Brewing Company
President / Garden State Craft Brewers Guild

Ami Opisso

General Manager / Lieb Cellars

Workshop #9:   Thursday 2/23 11:00am - 12:00pm

The Use of Oak Adjuncts in Red Wine Fermentations: Exploring Quality Trends in Eastern Winemaking
(part 2 of 2)


Often added to lessen green character, oak tannin is thought to help round out harsh characteristics and add to overall structure and mouthfeel, especially with under-ripe grapes. Granular oak is thought by some to enhance color stability in red wines, especially in low tannin varieties, and it is often used as a less expensive alternative to infuse oak flavor into wines without the use of barrels. The Winemaker's Research Exchange will lead a production workshop, including a trial tasting, sharing the results on the Effect of Granular Oak Additions on Color & Tannin Stability for the two following projects:

  1. Granular Oak Trial Additions to Cabernet Franc Must (Sunset Hill Vineyards & Horton Vineyards):
    Cabernet Franc grapes have been harvested and separated into two T-bins, with one receiving 4 pounds per ton medium toast granular French oak. This project has been done at both wineries in order to reproduce this trial across different regions. A total of 4 wines will be poured here.
  2. Granular Oak and Untoasted Oak Additions to Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot Must (Veritas Vineyards and Winery):
    The grape variety to use has not been finalized, and will be a function of harvest conditions. Harvested grapes will be destemmed into 3 T-bins, one receiving 4 grams per ton of untoasted granular oak, another receiving 4 grams per ton of toasted granular oak, and another receiving no granular oak addition. A total of 3 wines will be poured here.


Michael Attanasi

Research Exchange Coordinator / Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange

Michael Heny

Winemaker / Horton Vineyards

Emily Pelton

Head Winemaker / Veritas Vineyards & Winery

Workshop #10:   Thursday 2/23 11:00am - 12:00pm

Defining "Quality" in Your Packaging


A commitment to quality doesn't end with what's in the bottle, that's just the beginning. If your package doesn't reflect the quality of the product, there's potential for confusion and conflict with consumer and trade. This interactive workshop, led by packaging experts, will look at innovations in packaging design and material as well as address questions like what is "quality packaging"? Does my package reflect my brand? What are the right steps when considering something new?


Cynthia Sterling

Founder / Sterling Creativeworks


John Lawlor

Chief Executive Officer / Label Analytics

Lissa McLaughlin

Account Executive / All American Containers

Ashley Sebastionelli

President, Co-Founder / Lucky Clover Packaging

Workshop #11:   Thursday 2/23 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Leading the Commitment: Owners Investing in Quality


Achieving greatness is a team effort, but it starts at the top. In this session you'll hear from successful winery owners that were willing to invest what it took to produce the very best product possible... and they're not done yet. In this session, you’ll learn about some of the “quality driven” decisions and what the results were. Also, why these owners believe the best is yet to come for the region's wine producers willing to challenge the status quo.


Joe Roberts

Creator / 1WineDude.com


Ed Boyce

Proprietor / Black Ankle Vineyards

Chris Pearmund

Owner, Winemaker / Pearmund Cellars

Gino Razzi

Winemaker / Penns Woods Winery

Christine Vrooman

Owner, Vineyard Manager / Ankida Ridge Vineyards

Workshop #12:    Thursday 2/23 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Expanding Your Product Line: Wineries Adding Spirits, Cider or Beer to the Lineup


Wineries across the country are successfully expanding their offerings to include craft beer, cider or distilled spirits. With an existing customer base in place, adding new products presents a great opportunity, but what hurdles can you expect to encounter? Is it worth the additional effort? How will your core customers react? In this session hear from wineries that have already expanded to other beverages and what their experience was.


Christopher O'Gorman

Director of Communications / Rodney Strong Wine Estates


Jacob Halls

Owner / Convergence Consulting

Matt Haney

VP / Hillbilly Stills

Alva Mather

Partner / Pepper Hamilton LLP

Curt Sherrer

Cidermaker / Millstone Cellars

Workshop #13:    Thursday 2/23 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Vineyard Trials: LalVigne - Foliar Spray for Increasing Phenolic Maturity in Wine Grapes


Phenolics are a critical component of red wine texture and quality. While phenolic profiles can differ dramatically between wines and wine regions, it is possible to influence wine phenolic character in both the vineyard and cellar. A delicate pinot in the Lehigh Valley may have different requirements than a Cabernet Sauvignon in northern Virginia. In the vineyard, phenolic development (or the lack of it) begins with the site characteristics (elevation, slope, aspect, etc.) and continues through vineyard design (variety, clone, rootstock, trellis and training, etc.) and management (vineyard floor, nutrition, canopy and crop, etc.). If you put the right pieces together, within reasonable vintage conditions, wine phenolic profiles shouldn’t require further, if any, manipulation in the cellar and you can grow a truly balanced wine. Mark Chien will discuss best practices to ensure you’re giving your vineyard the best chance of success.

However, when conditions are not reasonable, achieving simultaneous phenolic and enological maturity is a challenge that all winegrowers face. This is especially true in climates where complicating factors can include the onset of rain, early frosts and vines susceptible to Botrytis. In many cases, the harvest date ends up being determined by external factors and not by grape maturity. Application of LalVigne foliar spray, an organic yeast derivative, has been observed to result in the concentration of aroma precursors, mouthfeel and mature phenolic attributes in grapes and resulting wines earlier in the ripening season. This workshop will present the results of trials run during the 2016 vintage in Virginia at Tarara Winery on multiple varietals. Trials results will also be available to taste.


Denise M. Gardner

Enology Extension Associate / Penn State University


Mark L. Chien

Program Coordinator / Oregon Wine Research Institute

Jordan Harris

Winemaker, General Manager / Tarara Winery

Megan Hereford

Sales Representative / Scott Laboratories