North County plays host to successful wine industry event
Wine Speak—a wine industry summit geared toward community and collaboration—wrapped up its third annual edition, hosting more than 750 attendees and selling out all special events. Held January 14-16 amid the backdrop of the Paso Robles wine country, Wine Speak featured an all-star cast of winemakers, master sommeliers and industry leaders from around the world.
Longtime Napa Valley vintner and featured Wine Speak panelist Bruce Neyers said, “It was without a doubt one of the single best wine events I have attended in my career, both in content and in takeaway.”
Sommelier Madeline Triffon said, “Coming to Wine Speak was a sweet, fulfilling surprise on so many fronts. It was a well-organized symposium driven by passion and heart as well as the community’s open fellowship.”
Wine Speak 2020 spanned four days, kicking off with a regional open house, followed by two days of winemaker-sommelier panels and public tasting experiences. The event concluded with professional development seminars and workshops. Wine Speak expanded with an international flair this year, featuring industry luminaries from both the old and new worlds—including Napa Valley, California; Rhône Valley, France; Priorat, Spain; Mendoza, Argentina and elsewhere.
Esteemed master sommeliers Chuck Furuya, Fred Dame, Nunzio Alioto, Madeline Triffon, and Emmanuel Kemiji all presented at various panels, which included “Inside/Outside—Crazy Red Blends”; “Inside/Outside—Cabernet Sauvignon”; and “Dream Big—Wine from a Different Perspective.”
Wine Speak 2020 featured a “Wine Team” composed of notable sommeliers from around the country who helped steer the event’s wine service. The event also hosted eight up-and-coming professionals on a scholarship from Dream Big Darling, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring rising talent in the wine and spirits industry.
Also notable at this year’s event was Alecia Moore, the famed musical artist, producer, actor and vintner known as P!nk, who attended several seminars and the Around the World Tasting at Atascadero Lake Pavilion. She attended with winemaker Chad Melville. Her Two Wolves wine project is based in Santa Barbara.
Established by Furuya and Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, VP of operations at Ancient Peaks Winery and founder of Dream Big Darling, Wine Speak was uniquely conceived to serve all segments of the wine industry. “Wine Speak is about gathering luminaries from around the world to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience so that everyone attending can have an opportunity to learn,” said Furuya.
“As our wine region continues to gain attention both domestically and internationally, it’s important to have events like this in our area,” said Joel Peterson, executive director of Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “Wine Speak brings influential wine buyers and sommeliers to Paso Robles—many for the first time—and this year’s line-up of incredible panelists and presenters didn’t disappoint.”
Wine Speak 2020’s main events were held in the city of Atascadero.