Unified Symposium Recap, Part One

Over the past three days, Suzanne and I attended the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. It was well-attended, extremely informative, and exhausting! The daily seminars and three floors of exhibits kept us busy. Over the next few days, we will be reporting back here with some highlights.

On the first day, we attended the keynote presentation by Rick Tigner, the President of Jackson Family Wines. Prior to this event, I had seen an episode of Undercover Boss, where Rick disguised himself as a job-seeker, and investigated how his company was working from the eyes of his employees, including the laborers, truckers, and wine tasting staff. He came across as a genuine, caring person on the show, and I was excited to meet him in person.

Rick’s talk focused on key issues affecting wine companies, and especially California wine companies. One point I found especially interesting is that California wines do not seem to be doing enough on the international scale to make a name for themselves. California wine shelf space abroad is limited, and California wine companies need to take on the challenge of educating the global consumer about what makes California wines unique and worth purchasing. In addition, Rick discussed some of the looming challenges specific to the wine industry, including water issues and sustainability. Rick touted Jackson Family Wines’ commitment to sustainability, and boasted about their recent achievements in reducing the amount of water used from vines to wines. Rick’s talk was engaging and entertaining. I was glad to see that he was as friendly in person as he appeared on television.


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