All 700 seats for this year’s Symposium sold out in 24 hours. The speed and volume of the response was beyond my wildest expectations. Over the past week, I have received many emails and phone calls expressing disappointment and frustration from those who are now unable to attend. It is clearer than ever that we have created a movement, and this further testifies to the need for our Alliance.
Less than two years ago, on March 13, 2015, I was delivering the opening remarks at the Inaugural Women of the Vine Global Symposium, I prayed 250 people would show up. I was reinventing myself after risking and losing everything on my wine venture, taking yet another risk with encouragement from Ben Salisbury that our mission was worth pursuing. It was with this leap of faith that I founded the Symposium.
I am writing to you today to acknowledge sincerely that I understand how many of you feel. I spent over a decade building such valued relationships with you and I honor and cherish them all. Thanks to all of you, what started as a one-off event, evolved into the first-of-its-kind trade organization devoted to advancing and supporting the careers of women in the alcohol beverage industry while collectively advocating for the industry at large to support gender-diverse teams and talent development. Officially, the Alliance launched only 15 months ago!
As fellow industry professionals, I am sure you can appreciate our current dilemma. The Alliance is in its infancy and experiencing growing pains as a startup organization; it is critical to manage that rapid growth strategically. We finally have a forum to call our own! And nurturing its development could ensure the next generation is mentored to take leadership roles.
I have explored many options since the venue reached full capacity. Unfortunately, there is simply no more space available and it is important that we maintain the quality and safety of the event.
To address impacted demand for this year’s Symposium, I’ve hired a production company to stream the conference (and viewed on-demand) so that women and men can participate from all over the world. This is the best way for more and more people around the world to experience the Symposium and join in our mission.
Still, I recognize and understand the value of a shared experience. Therefore, I am in the process of organizing “WOTVS Authorized Outposts” (aka viewing parties) hosted by several of our corporate partners. We will be sharing more information about this very soon.
The mission of Women of the Vine & Spirits is meant to unite us in person or remotely, not only during the Symposium but year-round. As such, we are looking at other programs, regional and trade events and more that could support our work throughout the rest of the year.
I welcome your input. This is our forum! Let's build it together! I appreciate your understanding and creativity in addressing the wonderful conundrum we have on our hands.
Here’s to working together – may you have a very happy and healthy New Year.
All the best,
Women of the Vine & Spirits
Founder & President, Women of the Vine & Spirits Alliance