2019 Hill Country Wine Symposium




5th Annual Hill Country Wine Symposium 2019

January 7-9, 2019

Horseshoe Bay Resort

EMAIL US if you are interested in becoming an Exhibitor, Sponsor or Grape Exchange participant.




Pre-Symposium Sessions: Monday, January 7

These two additional, longer sessions will be offered on Monday evening, 5pm-7pm.  Each session will be approximately 2 hours and limited to 50 attendees each.  Both sessions offered at $50/person for both THCW members and non-members.

4pm                 Registration Open – sponsored by High Plains Winegrowers Association & O-I Packaging

5-7pm              Pre-Symposium Sessions

Wine & Music Workshop: Clark Smith, WineSmith

It seems that when the wine and the music have the same intrinsic mood, they complement each other. In particular, wines taste smoother,  whereas when it’s a mismatch, they can taste harsh and astringent.  Read more on this session HERE.  Join Clark in tasting 7 wines while learning about his studies showing that wine preferences can be strongly influenced by music.

2018 In Review: What Flipped & What Flopped? Key Learnings to Catapult Your Winery’s DTC Program into Success for 2019: VingDirect

Join the VingTeam as they share 2018 trends and learnings, and industry benchmarking.

-Learn how to apply key findings to your family winery to set your winery up for success in the new year.

-Find out what’s next for wine club, social media, ecommerce, marketing, events, and more.



Tuesday, January 8

7:30am                     Registration sponsored by High Plains Winegrowers Association& O-I Packaging

Exhibitor Tables Open (Foyer)


8:00am                     Welcome – THCW Board of Directors (Main Ballroom)


8:30am                     Texas Wine – Lindsay Baerwald, Texas Department of Agriculture


9:00am                     KEYNOTE: Evolution of a Wine Region: Learning from others and finding your uniqueness –  Michael Wangbickler, Balzac Communications

Why do some regions thrive and others falter? What assets do they have that others don’t? What can Hill Country wineries learn from the most successful regions? But is imitation the best path forward, or should we look for another? During this keynote, Michael Wangbickler will attempt to answer these questions, and explore potential paths forward for Texas wine.


10-10:30am            Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break – Farmhouse Vineyards & Texas Wine Company                  (Foyer)



– WINERY: Barrel Fundamentals – Tim Drake, Drakes Consulting

This session will focus on the WHY of barrel fundamentals. The last few years we have been asked many questions regarding various barrel options, and we find that the more a winemaker understands the WHY behind these options, the easier it is to make the correct choice for their wines. Some of those questions include: Why a 22mm vs a 27mm stave? Why a 225L vs 228L vs 265L vs 500L? Why vary your toast levels? Why French vs American oak? A better understanding of the WHY makes for a better result in the bottle.

 – BUSINESS: Budgeting: A Necessity for Good Business – Cecily Raiborn, Texas State University

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” (from The Little Prince) This statement is definitely on-point in regard to businesses. Budgets are the means by which businesses plan ahead to meet their goals, both in the short- and long-term. This session discusses factors that should be considered in the budgeting process, different types of budgets, budget preparation, and the need for comparisons to exercise organizational control.

– MARKETING: Metrics, Measurement & Making More Money – Simple Tips To Get More Out of Your Marketing  – Julie Niehoff, Constant Contact

This session is about analytics, yes, but who is going to show up for that discussion? Let’s call it “the big so what” in marketing your business. You make great wine. You put it on the market. Maybe you Facebook or Twitter, send out emails and more. But so what? Do you know what’s working and what isn’t? Do you see any patterns in sales cycles – wholesale and retail alike? Are you getting the most bang for your buck with all that effort? Julie Niehoff and special guest Katy Jane Seaton will share tips and tricks for getting more return on your outreach with less time, money and energy. This will not be an over-your-head tech talk and we will not show a bunch of charts, graphs or special software. Nobody is going to sell you services, consulting or a product of any kind. This is about efficiency, productivity and growth for your business. We will give you simple ideas that can help drive higher margins and increased response. And we might serve you some wine, just for showing up.


11:30am                  Lunch – High Plains Growers Report – High Plains Winegrowers Association                  (Main Ballroom)


12:30pm                  Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break – Buena Suerte Vineyards & Bingham Family Vineyards    (Foyer)



– WINERY: How to Deal with High pH Grapes and Wine – Eglantine Chauffeur, Bucher Vaslin

pH is one of the most important parameters measured and used by winemaker  as decision maker from grape picking and all along the winemaking process. pH, related to vineyard practices, indicator of grape ripeness, also affects wine stability and quality. High pH has historically been a difficult winemaking situation, where microbial stability and oxidative challenges can depreciate wine quality through fermentation and ageing. This presentation will focus on the challenges associated to high pH wines and the winemaking solutions available to winemakers.

– VINEYARD: Farm Plan: Winegrowing & Winemaker Relations – Rob Weintstock, EJ Gallo

Communication is key to a successful partnership for both grower and winery.

– BUSINESS: How to Get it There – Meeting Customer Needs Through Shipping Compliance sponsored by Texas Fulfillment Service.  Moderator: Donna Rene Johnston, Wine! Texas Friendly.  Panel: Andrew Sides- Lost Draw Cellars, Jason Hensley- WineCub

The panel of authorities on shipping wine will discuss shipping compliance and meeting customer needs in compliance with in state and out of state requirements.


2-2:30pm                 Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break – Messina Hof Winery               (Foyer)


2:30 -3:30pm

– MARKETING: Journey Mapping |Tool for Crafting Customer Experiences that Breakthrough – Sara Kenton, Yardbird

Customers interact with brands, not channels.  And the brands that can innovate, adapt, and craft a higher caliber of experiences will succeed in the future.  Join us as we tackle journey mapping as an operating tool to craft these holistic, elevated experiences for your winery across multiple channels.  Customers interact with brands, not channels.  And the brands that can innovate, adapt, and craft a higher caliber of experiences will succeed in the future.  Join us as we tackle journey mapping as an operating tool to craft these holistic, elevated experiences for your winery across multiple channels.

– WINERY: Adjusting pH at the Winery: Sensorial Evaluation of Wines Treated with Ion Exchange vs Tartaric Acid – Maureen Qualia, Texas Tech University

Commercial examples of wines will be presented that have been treated with ion exchange or tartaric acid in order to reduce pH.  A winemaker panel discussion will accompany the tasting.

– VINEYARD: Vineyard Floor Management – John Thomas, Wildseed Farms & Penny Adams, Wedding Oak Winery

Overview of current practices and goals of vineyard floor management in the Texas Hill Country region.


3:30-4pm                 Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break     (Foyer)


4-5:30pm                 THCW Annual Owners & Membership Meeting – THCW Members Only     (Main Ballroom)


6:30-8pm                 5th Annual Symposium Reception sponsored by GO TEXAN, glasses by C & C Sales & Marketing     (Palm Pavilion)

Featuring Vista Brewing & Azeo Distillery


Wednesday, January 9

8:30am                     Registration sponsored by High Plains Winegrowers Association & O-I Packaging

Exhibitor Tables Open (Foyer)


– BUSINESS: Surprising Ways to Build a Grand Crew – Daniela DaSuta, Sekt Consulting

In this session, Daniela DaSuta of Sekt Wine Consulting will guide you through innovative and unconventional tactics to train and engage your team, thereby promoting loyalty, improving staff retention, and increasing overall profits. Learn how to build an incredible staff culture using out-of-the-box methods that will simultaneously honor your crew and improve your revenue flow.

– VINEYARD: Integrated Pest Management Recommendations for the Texas Hill Country – Jim Kamas & Brianna Hogue, Texas A&M AgriLife

This session will discuss integrated pest management concepts and practical applications in commercial vineyards in the Texas Hill Country.  This review will include discussions of established as well as emerging insect and disease problems that commercial growers are encountering along with low impact and effective methods of pest management.

– WINERY: The Calendar Year of a Winemaker: How to Prepare Your Winery and Your Growers for a Successful Harvest – Randy Hester, CL Butaud

Session motto: Plan, Prepare and Execute.  What we can accomplish in and around harvest is the most important aspect of making great wines. As the winemaker you are the sole face of the success or failure of a wine, but plenty of people play a role in that outcome. In this session we will detail a winemaker’s annual plan in order to prepare yourself, your growers, your owners/managers, your vendors, and your production facility so that we are able to execute a successful harvest.


10-10:30am            Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break (Foyer)



– VINEYARD: Grape-Onomics: The Business of Vineyards – Penny Adams, Wedding Oak Winery & Daniel Pate, Two Rock Group

Is your vineyard financially fit?  Join two long-time industry professionals as they walk thru the vineyard calendar exploring what it takes to reach business targets.  Learn real world experiences, benchmarks and how to ensure your vineyard is commercially successful.

– MARKETING: Top 5 Wine Consumer Engagement Strategies – Sandra Hess, DTC Wine Workshops

This session will share Top 5 Wine Consumer Engagement Strategies and instruct attendees on how to better connect with current and prospective customers. Repeat customers spend on average 67% more than first-time customers. Learn how to engage with prospective customers and how to invite qualified customers back in more meaningful ways. Each attendee will receive a Top 5 Wine Consumer Engagement Strategies Checklist.

– WINERY: Wine Packaging – Luke Holcombe, Scott Laboratories

An overview of the various options available to todays winemaker.  Topics discussed will be choosing the best  package, preparing the wine, common pitfalls and packaging day considerations.


11:30                         Lunch – 2018 Hill Country Wine Industry Scholarship Awards Presentation (Main Ballroom)


12:30pm                  Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break



– MARKETING: Curating Collaborative Events – Ravanne Lindsay, YETI

As the competitiveness in the market intensifies, experiential marketing through brand-owned events has become exponentially more important to attract, and ultimately retain, new audiences. But when it comes to creating memorable event experiences, you don’t have to go it alone. Join us in this session to learn why selecting strategic partners to curate collaborative events is beneficial for both brands & consumers.

– WINERY: Alcohol Sweet Spotting as a Quality Enhancement Tool – Clark Smith, WineSmith

Clark Smith will discuss his 25 years of experience with alcohol adjustment of over 35,000 California wines and plans underway to bring this powerful tool to Texas.  His research work over the past four decades reveals that brix has little to do with ripeness, but does determine alcohol level.  A strange phenomenon has emerged that for a given wine, only a few alcohol “sweet spots” exist where the wine is harmonious — generally two to four harmonious possibilities with very different styles.  Only about one in six wines achieve this by random chance.  In this session we will discuss the marketing implications and taste trials of a Texas wine from 2017 with alcohol reduced via reverse osmosis and from 2016 with alcohol increased with high proof spirit.

– BUSINESS: Grapes to Cash Flow: How to Fund Your Growth – Paul Gerling & Tamra Farris, Comerica Bank

We will discuss three stages of growth (Pre-profit growth, Post-profit growth and Self-sustaining Cash Flow) along with financing alternatives for each stage with an interactive case study.


2-2:30pm                 Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break (Foyer)



– VINEYARD: Climate & Wine- Understanding Suitability & Sustainability in a Variable & Changing Climate – Dr Gregory Jones, Director of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education, Linfield College

Climate is a pervasive factor in the success of all agricultural systems, influencing whether a crop is suitable to a given region, largely controlling crop production and quality, and ultimately driving economic sustainability. Climate’s influence on agribusiness is never more evident than with viticulture and wine production where climate is arguably the most critical aspect in ripening fruit to optimum characteristics to produce a given wine style. This talk will provide an overview of regional to global research on: 1) aspects of terroir that influences optimum quality and production characteristics; 2) the suitability of different winegrape cultivars to different climates; 3) how climate variability influences production and quality variations; 4) how climate change has and will likely continue to alter the global wine region map; and 5) measures being taken by the wine sector to mitigate and adapt to changes in climate.

– BUSINESS: Collaborative Efforts and Funding for Wine Tourism – Ernie Loeffler, Fredericksburg CVB & Debbie Geiger, Geiger & Associates

Having a comprehensive and collaborative marketing plan for wine tourism in a city, county, region or state is step one, but funding that plan is sometimes the stumbling block.  Based on representing clients involved in wine tourism in Texas, California, Michigan and Virginia, Debbie Geiger will present overviews of several successful collaborative marketing efforts in wine tourism and agri-tourism, as well as real life examples of innovative approaches to funding those efforts.  Founded in 1985 and one of the premier public relations and media marketing firms in the U.S., Geiger & Associates has worked with the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau for over 20 years.  Since 2005, Fredericksburg has been positioning itself as a wine and culinary destination in the state, national and international travel arenas.  Ernie Loffler will speak on cost effective marketing strategies that the Fredericksburg CVB has employed and funding of wine tourism promotion in Fredericksburg/Gillespie County, as well as tips on how to become more engaged with agencies marketing wine tourism in your region of Texas.

– WINERY: The Use of Oak Alternatives & Oxygen During Winemaking – Bronya Petrov, Vivelys

This program aims to provide a deeper understanding on what is essential from oak selection to wine integration by way of oxygen management.  Join us and learn how technology in the selection and evaluation of raw materials is critical in achieving high quality and consistent oak alternatives.


3:30-4pm                 Exhibitor & Grape Exchange Break (Foyer)


4-5:30pm                 WINEMAKER PANEL: Italian Grape Variety Panel with Texas Winemakers

Moderated by Jennifer Beckmann & Carl Hudson

Panel: Paul Bonarrigo- Messina Hof Winery, Jim Evans- Lost Oak Winery, Todd Webster- Brennan Vineyards, Todd Crowell- Ron Yates Wines, Dave Reilly- Duchman Family Winery

Highlight of varieties and how well they are doing here in Texas.  Comparison of climate and soil between their native homes in Italy and where they are now grown in Texas.


– If you are interested in a table at the 2019 Grape Exchange, please EMAIL US –





Late (December 10 – January 9)

THCW Member 2 day, $200          THCW Member 1 day, $175

Non-Member 2 day, $300              Non-Member 1 day, $250

Pre-Symposium Sessions $50 (members & non-members)

*Students, Educators, Media – contact us HERE for registration




LODGING – Horseshoe Bay Resort

There are TWO ways to make a reservation: calling the Reservations Call Center at (877) 611-0112 or going to this LINK.

THCW Hill Country Wine Symposium rate is available through December 10, 2108 – BOOK EARLY!



– If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, EMAIL US –



                                                                              BriteIdea Marketing Group Logo                                                                                 






– Allied Ag Services

– Austin Label

– BSG Wine

– Capital Farm Credit

– Comerica Bank

– C & C Sales & Marketing

– Dan Humphries Sales Co

– element7concrete

– Fredericksburg CVB

– G3 Enterprises

– HM Risk Management

– Hotsy Carlson Equipment Co

– JCS Agricultural Supply

– Johnson & Associates

– Novavine

– O-I Packaging Solutions

– Producer Supply

– Rivenburgh Wine

– Scott Labs

– South Plains Implement

– Sunridge Nurseries

– Texas Tech University

– Texas Wine Company

– Texas Wine Fulfillment

– Texas Wine, Texas Department of Agriculture

– The Brancero Group: Specialists in Agriculture Labor

– WinStar Insurance Group

– If you are interested in becoming an exhibitor, EMAIL US –

Additional information

Ticket Type

2019 HCWS Member 2-Day, 2019 HCWS Member 1-Day, 2019 HCWS Non-Member 2-Day, 2019 HCWS Non-Member 1-Day, 2019 HCWS Pre-Symposium Wine & Music Workshop – Monday 1/7, 2019 HCWS Pre-Symposium DTC Workshop – Monday 1/7, Early Bird – Member 2 Day, Late – Member 2 Day