I attended the morning of the day-long OGGWMA Mid-Year Meeting.  It was held at the Venue at Redstone in Luther.  George and Ann Nemecek are the owners.  It is a beautiful place — it is really incredible what they have done with it since I first saw it four or five years ago.  George and Ann were in the first Short Course class I taught in 2006.  If you ever have a chance to see their place you really should.

The morning session of the meeting consisted of three components: discussion on why membership levels have diminished over the last couple of years, discussion on the ABLE commission and direct shipping, and the third was a presentation by Michelle Finch on ShipCompliant software.    I have some theories on why membership levels have declined (although I won’t share them all here).  In my opinion, the OGGWMA does not give enough return to their members in terms of communication and a sense of community.  Sure, monthly board meetings are sent out as well as occasional mass emails on legislative activities, but members want to feel like they are a part of a community and receive some tangible benefit for their dollar.  Simple things like a newsletter, a blog, yearly awards for vineyard, winery, wine, etc., organized educational opportunities throughout the year, a proceedings of the speakers from the annual conference (maybe mid-year too) are just examples.  There was some discussion that maybe the cost of membership was too high.  In my opinion it is not, if some  other amenities are added like those mentioned above.  What I do think has been an issue is the venue for the annual conference.  Last year in Tulsa it was too much for the amount of attendees.  There are other hotels with facilities that aren’t so glitzy (and thus more cost conscious).  I understand the need to have a hotel/conference center meeting — it kind of makes it “official”, something more than just a normal gathering and I think that is a real plus.  A venue such as at RCC or OSU or OSU-OKC or a similar location just wouldn’t have the same vibe.

Hopefully things can get back on track for OGGWMA in the near future.  It hasn’t gone totally off the rails, but the diminishing support is a concern.

Jim Kamas, of Texas A&M, was the guest speaker on PD.  I spoke with him briefly before his presentation and tried to update him on the PD situation in OK.  I met Jim a few years ago and he is a knowledgeable guy.  I was not able to stay for his presentation, but I’m sure it was informative.