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2013 DTC Wine Symposium Raises $126,000 to Expand, Streamline Direct to Consumer Shipping (Press Release)

Karen Barnes Named Chairperson for 2014 Summit
March 19, 2013

March 18, 2013, Napa, CA, – On January 24, 400 wine marketers gathered at the sixth annual Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium to discuss thought-provoking strategies for improving direct to consumer marketing and sales. The event raised $126,000, to be divided between Free the Grapes! and Coalition for Free Trade, funding their campaigns to expand and streamline the market for legal, regulated wine direct shipping. 

Held near San Francisco International Airport, this year’s summit attracted a more geographically diverse group of vintners, brand managers, wine club and tasting room managers than in year’s past. Eleven states were represented, plus Canada, with more wineries from Sonoma County than ever before.

“This event contributes to the financial health of every U.S. winery that direct ships,” said Brian Baker, 2013 chairman and VP, Sales and Marketing, Chateau Montelena Winery. “The funds we all raise together support the successful PR and litigation campaigns that work so well with industry representatives to increase the DTC marketplace and streamline regulations. In fact, right now, our funds are supporting an aggressive campaign to open Massachusetts. Our supplier partners also benefit, but many have also given generously as sponsors of the DTC Wine Symposium, helping to make it a must-attend event,” he added.

This year’s sponsors included: Admiral IT US, American Express Merchant Financing, Benson Marketing Group, bLoyal, CapaBunga, Chateau Montelena Winery, Copper Peak Logistics, eWinery Solutions, FedEx, Food & Wine Trails, GrapeBuddy, GSO, Heritage Paper, Missing Link Networks, Napa Valley POS, Nexternal, Pack n' Ship Direct, PakSource, Inc., ShipCompliant, Silverpop, UPS, Vintegrate , Vintners Alliance, WineCare Logistics, WineDirect, Wineshipping, and the WISE Academy. Association sponsors included Wine Institute and Napa Valley Vintners, two of the founding organizations of Free the Grapes!.

Karen Barnes Named Chairperson for 2014 Summit

Wine direct marketing veteran Karen Barnes has been selected chairperson for the 2014 summit, replacing Brian Baker who chaired the event for four consecutive years. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Brian. He has led a talented steering committee with infectious enthusiasm,” said Karen. At the 2012 summit, the Tom Shelton Grape Liberator Award was conferred on Brian.

Karen Barnes has more than fifteen years of experience in direct to consumer sales and management. She began Wine Direct Marketing Services in 2002, managing wine clubs, allocation release programs, and online marketing and eCommerce solutions for small and virtual wineries. For the past three years, Karen was the DTC Wine Symposium Session Committee chairperson, developing workshop session topics and speakers. Joining Karen and Brain on the 2013 Steering Committee were Barbara Gorder, Jennifer Walters, Kathy Kelly and Jeremy Benson. Vintners and suppliers interested in joining the committee should email

About the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium
The DTC Wine Symposium is presented by and a fundraiser for Free the Grapes! and Coalition for Free Trade. These two organizations have worked successfully with local winery associations and industry representatives to increase the number of legal direct shipping states from 17 to 39, which represent 89.5% of US wine consumption.

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Media Contact:

Sean Carroll, Benson Marketing Group, (707) 254-1167,

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