As many of you know we’re one of the organizers of the U.S. Drinks Conference. This will be the fourth year that we’ve held the event and is scheduled for Oct. 12 and 13 in New York.  Check out the website ( for more details on speakers, agenda, registering, and hotel accommodations. Registrations are running at 3X the pace of last year and we fully expect to max out the room.  We moved to a bigger space this year, but indications are we’ll have to expand further next.
Here are just a few of the highlights of the program:
Social Media:  Gary Vaynerchuk.  He’s been a one man revolution in the wine business in the U.S. and globally as well.  .  Gary’s cut back his speaking engagements as he’s broadened is brand to be a media and marketing consultant.  So we’re thrilled that the USDC is one of the few events that he’s kept on his schedule. (I’ll admit I was a little worried earlier this year, but thanks Gary for the commitment.)
For those of you who don’t know about him, that alone is a compelling reason to attend this year.  Word is he’s more influential to a broader audience of wine consumers than Robert Parker, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast…combined.  His grasp and application of social media strategies is setting the bar very high for the wine industry.  Not only that, he’s one heck of an entertaining speaker…expect your boat to be rocked.
Complementing Gary’s speech will be a panel I’m moderating on social media and I’m particularly pleased and proud to have Tyler Colman of Dr. Vino, Colleen Graham of, Christian McMahon of Heineken USA and Carter Reum of Veev Acacia spirits on the dais.  They all bring a level of expertise in social media to the discussion that’s unique their field of interest, and our focus will be on real world best practices in this new media channel.
Distributor Panel:  One of the most popular sessions, you’ll get an earful of good advice from distributors on how they decide which brands to take on and support what they expect from suppliers and how they manage and motivate their sales forces. The moderator will be our good friend Ted Roman from William Grant and panelists include Kevin Fennessey of SWS, Efren Puente of Charmer Sunbelt, Bob Hendrickson from RNDC and Jeff Altschuler of Allied Beverages.
Financial Panel:  New to the roster this year is a panel on finding financing in this changed economic climate. We’ve got speakers from some of the major VC and investment capital sources working in our industry, and I’m really looking forward to what they have to say.
As I said, details are on the site, but here’s a list of the other panels…each boasting a stellar list of industry luminaries.
  • Regulatory Panel:  Answers to the questions you didn’t even know to ask
  • Navigating (what may seem to be the labyrinth of) brand entry and distribution including price structures and logistics options
  • Supplier Panels on spirits and beer, and a separate simultaneous session on wines sharing case histories and lessons learned.
  • How to allocate marketing budgets
  • Retailer panel including on and off premise independent and chain specialists.