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2023 Symposium Schedule

2023 Symposium Schedule

We are delighted to welcome writers back to Napa Valley this March for an enriching Symposium experience.

Sunday, March 5th:

5:30 PM Reception at Forum at Meadowood

6:00 PM Seated Dinner, with Welcome Remarks and Keynote Address by Eric Asimov

Longtime New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov will deliver our opening keynote on the topic applicants were asked to write about: “Why is wine important?”


Monday, March 6th:

8:00 AM Breakfast at The Napa Valley Reserve

8:30 AM The Business of Books featuring Karen MacNeil, Kelly Snowden, Jon Bonné, and Kelli White, moderated by Ray Isle

What are the 4 P’s of Publishing: Pitch, Polish, Publish… and Promote! This session will highlight four pros in the business of books who will speak to the process of getting a book to market, covering topics from agents to book tours.

10:00 AM Reaching the Modern Consumer featuring Julia Coney, Joey Hernandez, and Mary-Frances Heck, moderated by Elaine Chukan-Brown

A topic we revisit annually, but nevertheless one of great importance as we see wine consumption numbers continue to decline. Who exactly is reading today’s wine writing? This session will help attendees understand, reach, and grow their audiences.

11:30 AM In Focus: Crafting a Book Proposal featuring Kelly Snowden and Jon Bonné

Building upon the morning’s session, the Business of Books, this In Focus will discuss how to build a successful book proposal.

12:00 PM Lunch, Walk-Around Tasting, & Mentorship Sessions

Lunch will span both one-on-one mentorship sessions and a walk-around tasting of wines provided by the Napa Valley Vintners. The day’s theme: White Wines beyond Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

1:45 PM Writers’ Workshop: Tasting Notes for Whom? featuring Dorothy Gaiter and Miguel De Leon, moderated by Karen MacNeil

This session will explore the ever-expanding lexicon of wine and how writers can create a more inclusive environment with their tasting notes, all while keeping the reader top of mind.

3:00 PM In Focus: Clear and Concise with John Brecher

Another perennially important topic, this In Focus session highlights the importance of clarity and precision, both in your pitch and in your piece.

3:45 PM Offsite: Digging in at To Kalon with Kelli White

Members of the Napa Valley winegrowing community put deep thought into the questions that inform their farming practices as they strive to achieve different ends, and as part of this year’s Wine Writer’s Symposium, we seek to provide an enlightening experience in the vineyards to showcase some of the behind-the-scenes philosophies and attention to detail that growers are exploring through the lens of one of Napa’s greatest sites: To Kalon. This afternoon off-site will include visits with Tom Detert and Mike Wolf of Detert Vineyards, growers of the oldest Cabernet Franc vines in the county; Nathalie Buckland, Angela Vavricka, and Kimberlee Marinelli of OPUS ONE, discussing their Bordelais approach to vine management; and Sally Johnson-Dunn and Blake Wood of Robert Mondavi Winery, offering a preview of their electric Monarch tractors in situ.

6:30 PM Dine-Around Dinners

Winemakers will host small group dinners at locales around the valley.


Tuesday, March 7th:

8:00 AM Breakfast at The Napa Valley Reserve

8:30 AM The Dynamics of Digital featuring J’nai Gaither and Karen MacNeil, moderated by Mary-Frances Heck

The landscape of digital media is evolving rapidly. This panel provides an overview of digital publishing, from word counts, to heds and deks, to payment structures, and more.

10:00 AM Making Wine a Part of the Bigger Conversation featuring Dorothy Gaiter, Miguel de Leon, and Katherine Cole, moderated by Joey Hernandez

Wine is considered niche by many, yet it is intertwined with many cultural and environmental topics. This panel will dive into ways that wine can be elevated to and integrated in a broader discourse.

11:30 AM In Focus: Thinking Beyond Wine featuring Ray Isle and Eric Asimov

This In Focus will help attendees branch out beyond “traditional” wine media and topics to increase their reach and relevancy.

12:00 PM Lunch, Walk-Around Tasting, & Mentorship Sessions

Lunch will span both one-on-one mentorship sessions and a walk-around tasting of wines provided by the Napa Valley Vintners. The day’s theme: Red Wines Beyond Cabernet Sauvignon.

1:45 PM Writers’ Workshop: Getting out of your Comfort Zone, featuring J’nai Gaither and Julia Coney, moderated by Katherine Cole

This workshop is a continuation of the morning’s session. Here, attendees will put theory into action as the panelists challenge them to expand their horizons.

3:00 PM In Focus: Writing across Styles, featuring Elaine Chukan-Brown and John Brecher

There should be as many ways to talk about wine as there are wines. This In Focus session will help writers tap into their creativity. It will also address how style can be used to broaden the reach of wine writing.

3:45 PM Offsite: Digging into Vineyard Development with Sarah Bray

What goes into the development of a vineyard in Napa County? What are the considerations that a vineyard manager must take into account? Who are the people that might touch the project? How do these elements impact the cost of the final wine? This unique discussion will peel back the curtain and provide an enlightening perspective for writers at all stages of their career. Panelists will include long-time vineyard manager Mary Maher, winemaker at La Pelle and partner at Silverado Farming Company Miguel Luna, owner of PPI Engineering Jim Bushey, and geologist Paul Anamosa. After the panel, the group will venture into one of the blocks at Seavey Vineyards undergoing redevelopment with winemaker Jim Duane. This off-site excursion will take place at Seavey Vineyards in Conn Valley.

7:00 PM Farewell Dinner at Beringer

A casual, communal dinner with fare to enjoy paired with wines from partner wineries around the valley. 


Wednesday, March 8th:

8:30 AM Breakfast at The Napa Valley Reserve, following check out

9:15 AM Silicon Valley Bank: State of the Industry featuring Rob McMillan

9:45 AM Closing Keynote with Miguel de Leon

Our closing keynote will be delivered by sommelier, writer, and James Beard award winner Miguel de Leon. He has been asked to tackle the same theme as our opening keynote and applicants: “Why is wine important?”

10:30 AM Closing Remarks & Final Goodbyes

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