Zephyr Adventures and MartinCalder Productions, in partnership with the Napa Valley Destination Council, announced today the launch of the first ever global wine tourism conference in North America. An anticipated 300 national and international attendees representing businesses, educators and other stakeholders in the wine tourism industry will convene in Napa Valley on November 16 and 17, 2011 to address industry trends and the issues that impact wine tourism for established and emerging wine regions. 

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 17 percent of American leisure travelers, or 27.3 million people, have engaged in culinary or wine-related activities while traveling, requiring wine regions to compete for their percentage of the market share. With over 7,000 wineries in the U.S. alone interested in expanding their market share, wine regions are focused on creating attractive destinations that feature a mix of wineries, tasting rooms, conference services and other entertainment attractions, said Elizabeth Martin-Calder, co-organizer of the Wine Tourism Conference and owner of MartinCalder Productions.  This conference will provide wine tourism providers with the knowledge and tools to compete.

In collaboration with Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute and Wine Institute, the association of California wineries, the organizers have designed a two-day program of general sessions and panel discussions guided by leading educators and strategists in the wine and tourism marketing industry.

Our goal is to serve as a resource for the wine community where industry stakeholders have an opportunity to learn, share and grow, said Allan Wright, co-organizer of the Wine Tourism Conference and owner of Zephyr Adventures.

Caroline Beteta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the industry-led California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC) will open the conference with an inaugural address on wine tourism and its impact on California's $95.1 billion tourism industry. Under her leadership, California tourism programs have brought in an average of nearly $4 billion annually to the state's economy, and increased the state share of the domestic travel market by three percent, reversing a decade-long decline. Beteta also serves as Vice Chair of the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP), a new organization to promote the United States as a premier travel destination in countries around the world.

Additional presenters already scheduled for the conference include: Ray Isle, Wine Editor of Food & Wine magazine, Leslie Sbrocco of Today Show and Thirsty Girl, and Sara Schneider, Wine Editor of Sunset Magazine.

Napa Vintners and Napa Valley Destination Council have partnered to host a wine reception and farm-to-table food and wine pairing dinner on November 16. Celebrity guest chefs and winemakers from around the Valley have been invited to attend and co-host the festivities.

The conference will be held at Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa. The cost of the conference is $350 (the fee does not include accomodations). Information about hotel reservations and other conference logistics can be found on the Wine Tourism Conference's official website.