2019 WineMaker Conference Recap

Hundreds of hobby winemakers came to Traverse City, Michigan from May 16 to 19 for our 12th annual WineMaker Magazine Conference. The conference featured local professional Northern Michigan winemakers, WineMaker writers, industry experts, and top hobbyists leading over two dozen different seminars over the two main days covering the full spectrum of the hobby. The attendees came from over 30 different states and provinces to enjoy the chance to trade advice and stories with fellow winemakers.

This year we again ran our popular pre-and post-conference boot camps with full-day, hands-on classes, which allowed attendees to take advantage of four full days of learning about making wine. We added a boot camp on advanced cheesemaking to the mix on top of past favorite boot camps focusing on wine testing, grape winemaking, and growing grapes. We also ran full-day tours both before and after the conference for attendees and guests to wineries in the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula AVAs.

The main conference featured workshops including local winemaker Brian Hosmer of Chateau Chantal leading attendees through bench trials with a Malbec base wine. This year also had our longtime columnist Wes Hagen giving us 101 More Reasons to Drink Wine as we enjoyed samples of his Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon. We also held several question and answer seminars on advanced and basic troubleshooting as well as grape growing and kit winemaking. The conference continued offering a selection of different seminar choices for attendees to choose from across a broad variety of topics several times each day. From kits to grape growing to techniques for the fresh grape winemaker, there were subjects for every level and style of winemaker. 

Saturday featured a lunch keynote address about why the Traverse Wine Coast region is a special place to grow vinifera grapes from Paul Hamelin of nearby Verterra Winery. 

After Friday’s seminars ended, a tasting party kicked off with attendees bringing hundreds of their own bottles of wine to share with other hobbyists. Wineries from the Traverse region also poured samples late into the night as attendees tasted wines and shared winemaking stories.

Saturday evening attendees found out first who won medals in the 2019 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition and hundreds of medals were handed out in person to members in the audience as they came forward to some well-deserved applause from the audience.

The 2020 WineMaker Magazine Conference will head for the very first time to the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles region on California’s Central Coast. Our 13th annual conference will be located at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo. The region is home to hundreds of wineries to explore in a beautiful part of the world. We are already working hard on next year’s program. You can lock in your spot for next year and save right now by visiting winemakermag.com. Full program details will be in the December-January issue of WineMaker and posted on winemakermag.com in early November.