Hundreds of home winemakers came to Eugene, Oregon, from June 1-4 for our 2023 WineMaker Magazine Conference. The conference featured local professional Willamette Valley winemakers, WineMaker writers, industry experts, and top hobbyists leading more than two dozen different seminars over the two main days covering the full spectrum of the hobby. The attendees came from over 30 states and provinces to enjoy the chance to learn from experts but also trade advice and stories with fellow winemakers in person.
This year we again ran our 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 also ran full-day tours both before and after the conference for attendees and guests to wineries in the southern Willamette Valley.
The main conference featured workshops including WineMaker’s “Varietal Focus” columnist Chik Brenneman leading a side-by-side tasting of the same base wine he made with six different oak treatments. Our Friday lunch keynote speaker was local winemaker Brent Stone from King Estate, one of the region’s winery pioneers. We held several question and answer seminars including panel discussions with different award-winning home winemakers. The conference continued offering a selection of 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.
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. Local wineries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley also poured samples late into the night as attendees tasted wines and shared
Saturday evening attendees found out first who won medals in the 2023 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition after the University of Oregon marching band kicked off the awards ceremony. Hundreds of medals were handed out to winners in attendance as they came forward to some well-deserved applause from the audience. The night wrapped up with a memorable presentation of the WineMaker of the Year and Grand Champion Wine awards both going to Bob Joakimson and his former winemaking partner Rex Johnston, who passed away earlier in the year.
The 2024 WineMaker Magazine Conference will head to the birthplace of American wine in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thomas Jefferson planted the first commercial vineyard in North America in 1774 here and dozens of wineries in the Monticello AVA continue his legacy today. We are already working hard on next year’s program. You can lock in your spot for 2024 and save right now by visiting www.winemakerconference.com. Full program details will be in the December 2023-January 2024 issue of WineMaker and posted on winemakerconference.com in early November.