The Lodi Wine Grape Commission hosted its annual meeting at Hutchins Street Square on Wednesday afternoon.

Kirst Hall was filled with wine aficionados and local winemakers looking to discuss new marketing strategies aimed at increasing Lodi’s visibility and place in the wine industry.

The event was led by Lodi Wine Grape Commission Executive Director Stuart Spencer. Spencer has served on the commission for 20 years and is proud of the strides Lodi has made to become a prominent Zinfandel region on the global stage.

Spencer’s role as the executive director has helped garner national coverage as national outlets have covered the evolving wine industry.

“We were featured in Wine Spectator Magazine, which has helped leverage our notoriety in both the national and international markets,” Spencer said.

Spencer says marketing has been crucial in boosting Lodi’s brand. He has worked to bring Lodi to regions of the world that have yet to discover the flourishing market.

“We attended Aspen Food and Wine Festival last year, and we toured to Fort Bragg and Nashville. We have even ventured to Germany and Hong Kong to get our product out to interested parties,” Spencer said.

The Wine Grape Commission’s efforts to bolster Lodi’s social media presence has lent itself to the burgeoning brand that Lodi is looking to build. The commission has revamped its social media presence and purchased ads on social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook and are looking to bring more tourism to the region.

“Our brand is key to expanding our markets abroad and that all rests on publications,” Spencer said.

Spencer believes that social media has helped elevate Lodi’s status in the industry and brought more attention, from having winemakers and wineries featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, a spread in Wine Spectator, and an article published by Forbes.

Stewart says the commission has recorded over 30 million imprints on its website, 13 million views through online ad campaigns and 17,000 clicks on articles that highlight Lodi as a search.

The next move for the commission is to reconfigure its branding strategy. Spencer believes that the title Wine Grape Commission may come across as too bureaucratic, but would like to maintain the “Commission” for research-based pursuits that he is hoping to advance in the next three to five years.

However, by establishing a more layman’s title, he is hoping to further expand Lodi’s reach.

“Our largest focus is increasing tourism into Lodi’s wine country,” Spencer said.

The next venture that Spencer has planned for the commission is an international tour that will take place across Europe in the United Kingdom and Germany. There are also plans to tour Lodi Wine in the Nordic regions to Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

As Spencer continues to pave the path of marketing he is looking to make Lodi the Zinfandel capital of the world.

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