The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, a non-profit organization founded by Meadowood Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Vintners trade association and The Culinary Institute of America, draws top wine book authors and editors, wine magazine writers and critics, newspaper wine columnists, bloggers and other editorial wine content creators to Napa Valley to speak, listen, debate, explore themes prevalent in contemporary wine writing and network with their peers for four days. A combination of lectures, panel discussions, group and individual writing sessions, wine tasting and fine dining make the symposium an unmatched career enrichment opportunity for editorial wine, wine-food, and wine-travel writers.
Q: How do I get to Meadowood Napa Valley?
A: Please visit www.meadowood.com/contact/ for directions to Meadowood from a number of different starting points.
Q: What are my transportation options once I arrive in California (SFO, Oakland, Sacramento airports)?
A: Our preferred transportation vendor is Napa Valley Tours and Transportation as they have very knowledgeable drivers and phenomenal service. Their rate from the airport (San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento) is $245 dollars each way in a sedan
(707) 251-9463 not including a tip. The Evans bus is an alternative option of transportation from all three airports. It makes infrequent stops to Yountville; it most frequently stops in Napa. For a complete rate and schedule listing you may VISIT THEIR WEBSITE or call (707) 255-1559. From the city of Napa you will still need to arrange for a taxi to take you to Meadowood. An additional transportation vendor to assist in this process is Saint Helena Wine Tours. A one way trip from Napa to Saint Helena is $50 not including a tip. Either Ken or Barbie (yes they are a couple) can assist you with this. Their telephone number is (707) 963-9644.
Q: What is the weather like in the Napa Valley during the month of February?
A: February temperatures in Napa Valley run between 40 and 60 degrees during the daytime and we could experience rainy days, sunny days or a combination of both. Please check the National Weather Service prior to arrival. Evening temperatures may drop to the mid-30s.
Q: Will there be time to explore Meadowood and use The Health Spa during the Symposium?
A: Although you will have some time on your own, most of the time will be spent in workshops, panel discussions and coaching sessions. You will, however, find yourself with a bit of spare time over the course of several days.
Please contact our Health Spa directly at (707) 967-1275 for information regarding hours of operation, fitness classes, hiking trail maps, spa treatments, etc.
Q: What is the appropriate attire for the Symposium?
A: Casual attire is appropriate during the Symposium, however, we would request that your choice of attire not be so relaxed as to include sporting or workout garments. Tuesday dinner attire is “wine country casual” with jackets for men optional. This may be translated as a slightly more polished version of traditional casual wear. Dark, well maintained denim paired with a nice sweater or crisp blouse and blazer; short knit skirt with a sweater, tights (in winter) and flats; khakis with a polo shirt and fleece/sweater vest. Thursday dinner is more formal with jackets suggested for men and “wine country elegant” attire for women. This may be translated as a casual version of traditional cocktail attire. Consider an outfit you’d typically choose for a cocktail party or dinner at a nice restaurant, then dress it down just a little, perhaps by skipping the stockings, stilettos and dangling earrings. The look is still elegant but comfortable.
Q. Who sponsors the Symposium?
The Symposium solicits no outside sponsorship. A portion of the cost of the program is underwritten by the Napa Valley Vintners, a non-profit organization representing more than 400 wineries, and by Meadowood Napa Valley. Meadowood, which is also the annual home to Auction Napa Valley, continues its 32-year tradition of service to the Napa Valley winegrowing community by providing a venue for the conference. The Culinary Institute of America also provides a venue for key seminars, tastings and demonstrations within the program.
Q. What would make me ineligible for participation in the Symposium?
In order to maintain the editorial caliber and collegial atmosphere of this conference, the Symposium registration is not open to winery personnel or wine marketing and communications professionals. Attending writers and editors must be professionals who have been paid for published editorial content.
Q: Will I need my laptop during the Symposium?
A: We strongly encourage you to bring your laptop. We will be providing USB drives for all participants, loaded with complete curriculum information, important documents and contact details.
If you are not able to bring your laptop, there are computers available in the Business Center, conveniently located next to several Symposium event rooms.
Q: How do I sign up for the one-on-one coaching sessions??
A: Please call Julie Sigourney at (707) 968-3155 at your earliest convenience after registering to sign up for one or two coaching sessions. All appointment times are on a first come, first reserved basis.
Q: How do I sign up to attend the breakout sessions?
A: Please call Julie Sigourney at (707) 968-3155 at your earliest convenience to sign up for Symposium breakout sessions/workshops. All sessions are on a first come, first reserved basis. As space is limited, we strongly encourage you to contact Julie as soon as possible to secure your reservation for the sessions you wish to attend.
Q: Will the meals during the Symposium be seated?
During all lunches and dinners individual tables will be hosted by faculty members. Each table will have a sign with the name (s) of the hosts. This will allow you to enjoy the company of several speakers and panelists over mealtime throughout the Symposium.
For dinner Thursday evening, the 15 Napa Valley vintners who provided fellowships will be seated with their fellowship recipients. Please note that if you are a fellowship recipient your seat will be marked by a place card. Please feel free to ask a member of the staff to help you find your seat.
Q: Since I am on my own on Wednesday evening, are there any restaurants you can recommend?
A: Please visit www.legendarynapavalley.com, a complete resource about Napa Valley, offering a detailed list of restaurants, wineries and events happening in the valley during your stay.
Q: Is there a way I can arrange for transportation to dinner Wednesday and perhaps share with other attendees?
A: You may pre-arrange this with Napa Valley Cab by calling
(707) 257-6444. The cost will be between $45 and $50 not including a tip. However, if you can find people arriving at the same time you can share a ride and split the cost.
Q: I am departing on Friday. When is the best time to check out of my room?
A: Please check out by 7:30 a.m. on Friday before boarding the bus to CIA for the remainder of Friday’s program. If you would like, a Meadowood staff member will be pleased to arrange for the safe storage of your luggage until you return from the CIA.
“It was a pleasure to be at the symposium. I learned a lot about a world that's still rather exotic to me, and can only admire those who participated. Their energy and passion are impressive. I hope I was able to help those I ‘coached’ (they were more like discussions of their work, really); they certainly taught me a lot.”
Author, journalist, wine merchant
San Francisco, California
"I came away from the symposium feeling energized and ready to rock out the year. I made a to-do list on the plane ride home, and am happy to report at the end of the year that the majority of my full-time freelance income came from wine writing. Even more significant on a personal level, the craft discussions and writing workshops helped inspire me to keep the quality of writing high, which in turn leads to its own success."
Writer, Cooking Light, Wine Enthusiast
“Never say I'm not attentive at the symposium seminars! Here's a column that resulted directly from sitting in on Janet Fletcher's seminar back in February.”
Chief wine critic, The New York Times
New York, New York
“Happy to say I've just assigned my first article to an alum of The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley -- Janis Miglavs.”
Editor, Worth magazine
New York, New York
“When I attended the 2011 symposium as a fellowship recipient, I was brand new to the world of wine writing. The symposium gave me the confidence I needed to become a real life wine writer. Almost a year has passed, and I still make use of the contacts I made at the symposium -- I’ll email other wine writers for advice; touch base with other bloggers to flesh out post ideas; and pitch editors. The past year has been incredible and the symposium played an important role in this success. So if you’re a wine writer, go to California!”
Founder & editor, Terroirist.com
“The symposium is a great, fun event. In pulling together key opinion formers from across the US wine scene, this is a forum where attendees are getting their finger on the pulse of the major issues being dissected by the wine press, and getting themselves in front of key editorial names. You're also at the heart of the California wine scene for a busy week of events – so from my perspective, it was an extremely useful environment in which to take Napa's temperature, and to pick up some new wine writing talent – I went away with several potential new contributors to the magazine.”
Editor, Decanter magazine
“Guess what? A few weeks after attending the symposium my little column for the Star newspaper is a winner in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists column competition, in the category of humor (naturally) for print publications with circulation under 50,000.”
Attorney, author, freelance writer
St. Helena, California
“Awesome symposium. Very well run and insightful. What I thought most fascinating was how wine attracts people from all backgrounds. I learned something from each person I spoke with.”
Reporter, MarketWatch.com, Wall Street Journal Digital Network
San Francisco, California
“Antonio Galloni and I were both participants at last (February’s) Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley. Over the course of the week, I had many opportunities to chat with him and watch him interact with the other writers. He readily accepted my request for an exclusive interview.”
Castro Valley, California
“I found my muse (speaker Karen MacNeil) and some of my first and most consistent outlets (San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal) through the people I met at my very first wine writers symposium. The relationships and contacts are a dividend that more than repays the investment of time and money.”
Menlo Park, California