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Todd Sheppard

Live Oak Bank

Wine industry meeting organizers: please steal this idea!

On Friday, I spent six+ hours actually enjoying a wine industry meeting — the Nomacorc|Vinventions meeting at the Carneros Inn– that was as remarkable for what it didn’t have as for what it did.


Sadly, most wine industry meetings have developed the same charm and necessity as a colonoscopy: necessary, but to be avoided as long as possible. And coffee (masquerading as Starbucks) with the same joy and gustatory satisfaction as intestinal purge liquid.


What the Nomacorc|Vinventions event didn’t have was the same old people parroting the same old things to the same old people in the same old drab institutional/straitjacketed settings.



The head of adult beverages from Kroger had new, revealing and specific info.

Gone also were those tight little shoulder-to-shoulder conversational cliques with their “do not enter” body language communicating an aversion to new people and new ideas.


What Nomacorc|Vinventions did have were memorable presentations with pragmatically useful new data and on-target information that focused on the value to the audience rather than the self-promotion of the presenters.



Breakout, brainstorming sessions created teams for a competition in creating unique wine brands.


Presentations offered rich datasets rather than the usual coy, vague and incomplete data teases calculated to entice the audience into signing up for expensive products, services, or financial relationships.


Also gone were the self-aggrandizing  presenters often found at other meetings who read directly from their logo-dominated Powerpoint slides then vanish because their time is far too valuable to waste on actual people.



Even Rob McMillan had new data!

Absent from this meeting were the mercenary stalkers during breaks, lunch and the reception.


You know the types: dedicated to nailing prospects by almost any means necessary — except for the best means which is to get to know someone, learn their business and come away with new ideas, including possible ways to solve their problems or address their concerns.


Sure, that may result in actual business. But that collegial process is more analogous to developing a personal relationship rather than the way-too-common interactions at other meetings that more closely resemble the “ten minutes to closing time” desperation at a hook-up bar.


I have no idea how Nomacorc|Vinventions managed to pull off inviting people and presenters who were actually interested in meeting other attendees. The enjoyable success of this meeting had a lot to do with the attitudes and expectations of the organizers and attendees.


I do not think this was serendipity. It seems like a lot more deep thought went into this meeting than goes into the usual event. Regardless, I do hope other meeting organizers will steal this idea. It will help the resulting event, the attendees, and the industry.