Less than three years ago, the Santa Rosa-based, North Coast Wine Industry Trade Show & Conference was just an idea, but after its second year; it had become the second largest wine industry trade show in the country.

"No one is more surprised with how quickly the show took off than us," said George Christie, president and CEO of Wine Industry Network, producer of the event (wineindustryexpo.com). "What's really been more surprising is how many out of state businesses want to be here showcasing their products and services. Of the 300+ exhibitors at last year's expo, more than 20 percent were based outside of California."

This year's event will take place on Dec. 4 and will once again be held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. There will be six educational tracts, up from four last year, focusing on wine production, sales, marketing and viticulture.

"One of our objectives this year was to expand on the educational component," said Mr. Christie. "We want to make sure we're leveraging the many experts we're surrounded by and their vast experience to deliver valuable knowledge from proven winners for the attendees."

In 2013 more than 3,200 people attended the trade show and conference, up 30 percent from the previous year, and the goal for 2014 is to jump attendance by another thousand.

"The key to long term success for everyone involved is to fill the place with decision makers," Mr. Christie said. "For many North Coast vineyard and winery owners, the fact that they can come to a great trade show, sit in on a compelling panel discussion and still get a couple of hours in at work because of where we're located is pretty compelling in today's busy work environment."

Wine Industry Network operates an online business resource focused exclusively on wine industry suppliers. The website functions a lot like an online trade show, and it currently feature nearly 400 different companies.

"What we do online has been incredibly well received, but adding a traditional trade show where we can put real customers in the same room with suppliers just makes everything we do online throughout the rest of the year that much more effective," Mr. Christie said. "Personal interaction is not going away, but a continuous online presence has become expected of any serious business, and we encourage our exhibitors to take advantage of the synergies the combination provides."

The trade show and the online network work for the suppliers, because it's a resource to the industry.

"One of the most important factors for any successful business, especially newer ones, is making good buying decisions," Mr. Christie said. "That's no less true in the wine industry, and if we can help showcase the best suppliers so winery and vineyard operations can make better informed purchasing decisions, then we've done our job."...

Kim Johannsen is marketing and media manager for Wine Industry Network.