Press Pass Logo - September 2019

Volume 38, Issue 04, April 2020

In this Issue:

Message from the Board of Directors

We know the current coronavirus situation is affecting all of us, both as travelers and as travel writers. Members are wondering whether to cancel scheduled plans and what to say to their readers and followers. Our best advice is to stay calm and remain positive about the future of travel. Everyone has to make his or her best decisions based on personal risk factors and specific travel plans and destinations. There are no blatantly right or wrong answers right now—except to wash your hands! Although there are many uncertainties about the direction this crisis may take, the bottom line is that "this too shall pass."  And when it is over, our followers and tourism agencies will need us more than ever to guide them as travel plans emerge again. Now is the time to write, organize your photos, and explore possibilities for the future. It is also a good time to network with your fellow IFWTWA writers for support and ideas about future travel plans.

Update on IFWTWA2020 Conference

By Chris Cutler

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA on the beach stripAs you all know, we have plans to hold our 2020 conference at Ft. Lauderdale’s Atlantic Hotel in November. No one could have imagined that a pandemic would steamroll through the world and pummel businesses—including the hard-hit travel industry—as much as it has.

While staying current on what is happening, the board and I are also researching what medical professionals think will happen later this summer and fall. We are keeping our options open and will make a decision soon as to what measures we need to take.

Professional Development Projects Underway

By David Nershi

Are you ready to take your professional skills to the next level? Several projects are underway in the Professional Development area that will roll out over the next several months and are designed to meet your needs. 

Live Webinars

Webinar Image

We’ll be bringing a variety of interesting topics to you via webinars which will feature live presentations followed by Q&A. The webinars will also be recorded for member viewing at later times. 

The first webinar will help get you ready for Malbec World Day with an educational segment on one of our favorite grapes led by Dave Nershi, CSW. Participants will be invited to open a bottle and share with the group their tasting notes and why they chose that Malbec.

Future webinars include Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, and the exciting and authentic wines of Missouri.

Malbec Taste Notes Webinar
Wednesday, April 15th

Four bottles of Malbec Wine

Get ready to share your stories and social media
posts on Malbec World Day, April 17, 2020. 

Select your wine and join the Webinar at 5 PM PDT!

To sign up, contact Cori Solomon at [email protected]

Pro Perspective Videos

IFWTWA will present a series of member-produced videos on its YouTube channel. The first video is in development now and will debut in May. Videos will be available to members through the IFWTWA website and directly through YouTube. Videos will be approximately two minutes in length and will focus on professional development topics for travel, wine and food professionals.

IFWTWA Certificate Course

IFWTWA LogoWhat better source of travel, wine and food knowledge than IFWTWA and its accomplished members? This project is in the planning phase now and has the goals of creating an online education program for members which will be a member benefit, enhance the visibility and reputation of IFWTWA, and more widely share the expertise of distinguished members. The courses will be delivered through an online learning platform. Those who successfully finish the course will receive a certificate of completion.

If you are interested in contributing to the above projects or joining the Professional Development Committee, please contact Dave Nershi at [email protected]

Cori Solomon Appointed to Board

By Linda Kissam

The IFWTWA Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Cori Solomon was appointed to the board of directors at the March meeting with an 8-0 vote. She will serve as a director and chair of the Membership Committee.

Cori Solomon image with dogCori is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who resides in Los Angeles, California. Her writing focuses on travel, art, food, wine, and pets. Cori’s background is real estate and art.

Her art plays a vital role in her writing as she utilizes the palette both visually and verbally in many of her articles. Cori shares her experiences and joy of her subjects in a passionate, candid, caring and entertaining way. Cori looks for the story that is behind the restaurant, chef, winery, winemaker or artist.

In addition to writing her blog, The Written Palette, she is a contributor to Big Blend Magazine, Food, Wine,Travel Blog and Magazine, SommTable and Vinely. Cori has also been featured on several radio shows including Big Blend Magazine and the SoCal Restaurant Show.

Cori founded LA Wine Writers, a group of approximately 50 seasoned wine writers, who get together to learn more about wine and the winemakers behind a winery. She organizes lunches, field and FAM trips for this group.

Cori earned her WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits, the NASA American Wine Specialist Certification and the NASA Spanish Wine Specialist Certification. Cori's article “Toby: A blind dog’s journey” won a Maxwell Medallion Award in the 2014 Writing Competition sponsored by the Dog Writers Association of America in the category of Online Article – Any Other Topic. In 2017 Cori was awarded the Kari Winters Cat Rescue and Rehabilitation award for her article "The Gift: The Story of a Cat Rescue.”

Volunteerism is one of the most important and beneficial actions that members can take to help this association move forward. The ability to utilize volunteer time and expertise makes an immense difference in what services IFWTWA can offer.

The fact of the matter is without volunteers this organization cannot fulfill its mission and achieve its goals.

IFWTWA Membership Renewals

By Cori Solomon

Woman holding credit card while using laptop

Did you know you can pay your IFWTWA membership renewal in two payments? At your renewal IFWTWA will accept $85 now and the remaining $85 in 6 months. 

Those who would like to make two payments should contact Hilarie at [email protected] to let her know you are interested in the payment plan for your renewal, and she will give you all the details.


Spotlight on Travel: Willamette Valley, Oregon

By Betsi Hill

Farm-to-table and grape-to-glass is what you’ll find sprinkled throughout the Willamette Valley. Here winemakers put an emphasis on handcrafted wines done a bit differently. You’ll encounter chefs who turn fresh from the farm vegetables, fruits, and meats into delightfully delicious farm-to-table creations.

Willamette Valley Oregon USA

But the Willamette Valley is filled with much more to explore than just wine and food! You’ll find some wonderful historic towns to explore, unusual towns, craft breweries, and lots of outdoor activities.

Winter is spectacular in Oregon! Spend some time exploring wine country, and take a day to head to the coast for some whale watching—Oregon’s Driftwood Beach is an ideal place to walk and search for a whale tail or two.

A road trip down one of of the Willamette Valley’s scenic byways may be just what the doctor ordered! The Willamette Valley has just designated three new scenic byways ideal for year-round getaways. Check them out here: McKenzie River Scenic Byway, Marys Peak to Pacific Scenic Byway, West Cascades Scenic Byway.

Becca Barnhart avatarBecca has been with Willamette Valley Visitors Association (WVVA) since January 2016. She manages all programs for WVVA's public relations and marketing efforts including media outreach and content development for WVVA's enews, website, and social media channels. 

For more information, and to plan your next getaway to the Willamette Valley, drop Becca an email for more information at [email protected] or call 541.231.4788

Willamette Valley Visitors Association Logo


Destinations and Writers Meet One-On-One to Discuss Travel in 2020!

By Deirdre Michalski & Linda Milks

As we mentioned over the past few months, exhibitors and sponsors had the pleasure of meeting with enthusiastic travel writers during the Santa Fe conference to discuss plans for 2020. This was a great opportunity for various destinations across the county to share with our writers information about their town, what makes it special, what they want to be promoting this year and collaborate on possible introductions and future press trips.

Two business women at table in collaboration

IFWTWA is very grateful for the support of our exhibitors and sponsors at our annual conferences. We encourage you to consider these spots to explore, write about, and enjoy.

This month we’ll look at  Memphis, TNWhidbey and Camano Islands, WA; and Vivac Winery. Stay tuned next month as we look at Phoenix, AZ and Paso Robles, CA.

Memphis Tourism Logo, blue & white top guitar outline

Memphis Tourism One-on-One with Brittney Adu

Brittney Adu had mentioned The Beauty Shop and The Liquor Store. She said she could set up a tour of her favorite women-owned or women-chef businesses. I am interested in interviewing or meeting some of these women. My mother's family is from Arkansas, across the river from Memphis.I visited when I was small, but that was many years ago and I'd love to see the "new" Memphis.   —Joeann Fossland

Brittney Adu did a fabulous job of introducing us to the exciting Mississippi Music City, Memphis. So well-known for its Elvis Presley connection and numerous other musical styles, Memphis is the birthplace of the Blues and Rock & Roll! Perhaps, equally, Memphis is known for its outdoor activities and its famous BBQ. We will be planning a road trip down the Mississippi to experience the Memphis that Brittney so vividly introduced to us.   —John Compisi

Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism One-on-One

Whidbey and Camano Islands are not just summertime playgrounds. These scenic islands offer a dizzying number of events during Fall, Winter and Spring. Come for a Chili-Chowder Cookoff in November, a Parade and Tree Lighting in December, a Red Wine and Chocolate Festival in February, or the Mussel Fest in March. There's no shortage of fun on these easily accessible islands

But for me, I'm heading up there to explore the wineries, restaurants and art galleries. And when I'm done, I'll walk the beaches and explore a little more of the beauty and solitude before the summer comes around again.   —Pam Baker


Whidbey Island: Scott and Kerry Rosenkranz enthusiastically offered so many great reasons to visit Whidbey and Camano Islands, Washington, State. As ambassadors for this destination it was very clear that they live there because it has fabulous activities to do and sights to see. The outdoor adventures, food and wine they described moved this destination from off the map to off the charts. Their excitement was contagious and we look forward to a future visit.

BTW: The Mukilteo Coffee was exceptional.   —John Compisi

Vivac Winery Logo

Perhaps the most fun we had was visiting with one of the conference's sponsors - Vivác Winery. Thanks to special arrangements made by a few of our friends at the conference, we were invited to join co-owners Jesse and Michele Padberg at their tasting room in the Farmer’s Market Pavilion.

Michele & Jesse at Vivac Winery

Originally self-taught winemakers, Jesse, President of the New Mexico Wine Association and Michelle, an international wine judge, are now both advanced wine sommeliers. Together with Jesse’s brother, Chris, and his wife, Liliana, this dynamic foursome is making a big name for New Mexico wine. Wine Enthusiast, Sunset Magazine, and USA Today all sing their praises.

Vivac has been producing classic European styled wines for 22 years and we had an opportunity to taste several of their delicious blends and varietals. While New Mexico has a long tradition of wine making, the industry is growing and these new generation wine producers have shown the world that New Mexico wines are edgy and sophisticated.   —Pam and Gary Baker

Association Recognitions

It’s an honor to give recognition to members having anniversaries. We thank each of you for including IFWTWA on your pathway to success. Your choice to work hard, think positive, network, and use your member benefits bring you to a whole new level of achievement. Way to go!

Clapping Hands


Glen Gilmore avatarGlen Gilmore
Travel Esquire
Hamilton, New Jersey

A Forbes "Top 20 Social Media Influencer," Glen Gilmore, known in the Travel space as @TravelEsquire on Twitter, is inspired to travel and share his experiences with a very engaged community.

From leading a group of travel bloggers on a trek in Jordan, to hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, scuba diving in Thailand or lounging at the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai or NYC, Glen is eager for new adventures in travel!

Peter John Derrett
Lismore, Australia

Esteemed member since 2015.


Get to Know Our New Members

By Cori Solomon, Membership Chair

Row of wine glasses with various colored wine


Elizabeth Smith avatarElizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith Consulting
Asheville, North Carolina

I am a native of Asheville, North Carolina, and reside in Napa, California. Her professional experience includes writing, higher education, wine club membership management, direct-to-consumer wine sales, social media marketing, and travel management. I hold a doctoral degree in community college education from George Mason University, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in French from The University of Tennessee – Knoxville and Western Carolina University, and Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Level 3 Advanced wine certification.

I am a contributing writer to the Napa Valley Register with a focus on restaurant profiles, healthy dining choices, food and wine pairing, and food and wine tourism. She is also the newsletter copywriter for the Rare Cheese of the Month Club at She has written articles for American Winery Guide, Snooth, Wine Industry Network (WIN) Advisor.

I am the Professional Wine Tutor for the Master’s Degree in Wine Management; Bachelor’s Degree Concentration in Advanced Wine, Beverage, and Hospitality; and Associate Degree Programs at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley. I won the 2017 Born Digital Wine Award for Best Tourism Content with a Focus on Wine for my piece entitled, “Lodi: Beyond the Zinfandel.” As a previous winner, I served as a judge for the 2018 Born Digital Wine Awards. In 2019, I participated in Born Digital’s inaugural Born Digital Wine Awards Summit – The “Unconference” on the future of the wine industry – in Liège, Belgium, with Born Digital Wine Awards judges and winners.

My passions include food, wine, travel, and fitness. I am always on the move to new destinations and love discovering inspirational stories and places to share.

Shelly Wilfong avatarShelly Wilfong
Toast Wine Talk
Dallas, Texas

Shelly Wilfong is a Dallas, Texas based freelance wine writer and wine educator. She is the founder of Toast Wine Talk and the Dallas Women’s Wine Club. A frequent contributor to the Texas Wine Lover website (, Shelly also blogs at

Shelly holds a Certified Specialist of Wine designation through the Society of Wine Educators as well as the Level 3 Advanced award from WSET, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. She is a Specialist of Texas Wine through the Texas Wine School and has WSET Level 1 certification in Sake.

She is an active volunteer for the annual TEXSOM International Wine Awards and a judge for the Lone Star International Wine Competition.

Shelly, a Waco, Texas native, earned a BBA from Texas Christian University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Life before wine study included stints in the healthcare industry in healthcare consulting, corporate relations, and development for the American Heart Association - National Center and Arthur Andersen Business Consulting.


IFWTWA Resources: Connect with our members and experts 

Wine Toast

Connect with fellow IFWTWA experts. Meet virtually in our social community forums; create your own Social Circles. Make connections from your profile. Plan a live meetup. Keep up-to-date by joining our private Facebook Members Group—participate in weekly social media campaigns for likes, follows & retweets. Attend the conference. Volunteer on committees and work with our Board of Directors.

Reach out today! It's fun and mutually beneficial to network with your colleagues. Learn from each other and grow your own and fellow member's career goals and online presence. We know you are busy, on-the-move professionals, so your participation in IFWTWA is very much appreciated.

Follow | Connect | Retweet

Facebook IFWTWA Members Group
Relevant and timely information posted daily
Job leads | media trips | social media help | writing opportunities 
Weekly social media share threads

 IFWTWA Website


The Official IFWTWA Magazine
Digital magazine on ISSUU
Food, Wine, Travel Magazine


Become a Regional Membership Coordinator 
Organize local press trips & networking events

Media & Press Trips
Annual Conferences

Chris Cutler
Executive Editor

Press Pass Newsletter is a publication of the
International Food, Wine & Travel Writers AssnTM 

IFWTWA | 39252 Winchester Rd, Ste 107 Murrieta, CA | 877-IFWTWA-9