Last week I attended my very first wine conference, the Texas Hill Country Wine Symposium. The two days were filled with lots of learning, interesting lectures, and hundreds of fantastic people. One of my favorite presentations came from April Sunshine Hawkins, a consultant for Digital Brand Makeover. Her enthusiasm for promoting business through Facebook was exciting and helpful. Of course, it wasn’t long into her presentation that she stated she used to be a second grade teacher. As a retired first grade teacher, I couldn’t help but be fascinated at how she captivated our attention and kept us engaged throughout her presentation.

This was also my introduction to TABC. While I recently completed the course and received my TABC Server and Food Handler Certification, I was very interested in learning more about the laws regarding the selling of wine. Needless to say, it was very intense. When I left, my heart was pounding and I was breathing hard. It was scary! I learned that if you have any questions regarding the distribution of your wine to contact TABC.

Rae Wilson, Wine for the People business owner and consultant, offered advice that for me was invaluable. The simple lesson of “hospitality first” was something that is easy and can be done by everyone in your winery. Her suggestion to build a thorough in-house training program for staff is a tool that will be implemented in our winery. It was inspiring to sit in on her presentation as she shared her passion for food, wine, and customer service.

Throughout the two days I met many wonderful people that shared the same love for wine and the desire to serve others. They were owners, wine makers, tasting room managers, viticulturists, bloggers, local reps, and vendors. Many offered their help and told us to call if we needed anything. Laurie Steven Ware, trail director for Way Out Wineries Wine Trail, introduced Brian and me to the several other winery owners in our area by. We are very excited to be a part of this group and look forward to sharing our love of wine!

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