IWGA Conference Report

On March 7 and 8 I had the great pleasure of attending the Iowa Wine Growers Association’s annual conference which was held at the West Des Moines Marriott Hotel.  It was my first conference and my expectations were high, fueled by a desire to learn and to connect with other folks who are passionate about the Iowa wine industry.  In both regards I walked away satisfied, comforted not only by the fact that there are numerous people dedicated to the growth and development of this industry, but also that there exists a strong (and growing) institutional foundation upon which industry members can lean for support.

I refer not only to the IWGA itself, but also to the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute which operates out of Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, and the Alcohol Beverages Division.  These organizations are among the handful which strive to cooperatively build a sustainable and profitable industry within the state, and I am glad each made an appearance.

From a personal perspective, I found the most enjoyment in meeting old friends and new.  I was especially happy to meet face-to-face those people I had only ever touched base with in phone conversations or email.  It was an invigorating experience, one which stimulated a renewal of my dedication and excitement for the future of the industry.

From this experience, I am reminded of that well known idiom ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

I’ll be among the first to admit how easy it is to let slip from my mind the efforts, the passion, and the investment others have made to any cause when I have little or no contact with them over a period of time.  Events like the IWGA conference are valuable, not only for the information shared through seminars and vendor pitches, but because they bring like-minded individuals together, creating a veritable mashup of passion and determination.  And while I may have a vested interest in cooperating with another from a distance (and, to be sure, this can be a valuable thing) it all becomes more tangible in close proximity, and easier for my mind to assess the gravitas of that relationship.

What it comes down to is that I wish we could do this more often!

By participating in events like these – where we can learn, discuss, debate, and sample together; where we stand face-to-face and engage in intelligent and honest dialogue – we can only develop that much quicker as an industry.  It’s no great stretch of the mind to realize that people will work harder for the friend standing at their side than for the person disembodied by distance with only an ethernet cable as a tether.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to the IWGA for allowing Iowa Decanted access to the event.  It was a worthwhile experience and one I hope we’ll be able to revisit in the future.  Enjoy the slideshow of photos from the conference below, and don’t forget to watch the video feature.



Nick Thornburg

Founder, Editor-in-chief