Wine country to be focus of economic forum

Staff report

A wine-country economic forum, featuring a keynote speech by the founder of the Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division, will take place from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott Hotel in Buellton.

The event is the first wine forum organized by EconAlliance, a nonprofit organization that organized agriculture forums in North County in 2014 and 2016.

EconAlliance Board President Steve Pepe said the forum, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, is intended for community leaders, business and other industry professionals, policymakers and economic stakeholders as well as professionals in wine, food, tourism and other sectors.

The program includes several panel discussions as well as the keynote presentation, “Facts of Life About Direct-to-Consumer Sales,” by Vice President Robert McMillan of the Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division.

Registration is available at The cost is $65 for individuals. Table seating together may be arranged by emailing Victoria Conner at by July 20.

Panel discussions include “Direct-to-Consumer Sales – Key to Financial Sustainability?”; “Wine and Tourism – A Perfect Pairing?”; and “Wine, Visitors, Venues and Regulations.”

The Vintners Association will present an overview of its new “Santa Barbara Vintners Good Neighbor Policy.”

The afternoon forum will be followed by a reception featuring local wines and a showcasing of Kità wines.