SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The biggest wine convention in the country is headed to Sacramento this week. The Unified Grape and Wine Symposium is expected to attract more than 14,000 visitors to the city.
“They’re all here for that common core reason…wine,” said Oliver Ridgeway, Executive Chef at The Grange Restaurant. “They come here, they buy a lot of wine, we provide food that goes well with wine and you’ll see people opening corks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a really fun environment.”READ MORE: Sacramento Neighborhood Gets New 20-Foot Tall Mural
Exhibitor Rich Spanier and his wife, Heidi, made the trip from New Jersey but their visit won’t end at the convention center.
“Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it here,” Spanier said. “My wife and I kind of combine a little business and pleasure. I love wine, so we spent our first few days in Napa and then we combine it with some work.”
He’s one of 14,000 visitors expected to eat and drinking their way around the city’s finest restaurants. Ridgeway called the three-day event one of his top three money makers of the year.
“Tuesday, typically very busy,” he said. “Wednesday, we’re extremely busy and that impacts us breakfast, lunch, and dinner with some really unprecedented numbers. Not just this one, all the restaurants in the area, so it really does affect us in a positive way. It’s on our calendar.”READ MORE: Stockton School Employees Rescue Family From House Fire
Mike Testa with Visit Sacramento said the symposium takes up every inch of the convention center. As the program grows, the city has to find a way to keep up in order to keep the convention local.
“When we look at booking a convention and we’re competing against other cities, if our hotel ratio towards the convention center is different than other cities, it’s a disadvantage for us,” Testa said. “They have 14,000 delegates and we don’t have 14,000 hotel rooms downtown. The number is closer to 2,000.”
But Spanier told CBS13 he can’t imagine having the event anywhere other than the City of Trees.
“When you’re a small show, you get lost in big cities,” he said. “You have to stay in the smaller cities, you have to stay relevant to your clientele. It’s a very friendly show, I think it kind of goes with the Sacramento friendly kind of vibe and the only thing you’re really short here is hotels.”MORE NEWS: Elderly Oak Park Homeowner Gets Possession of Property Back After Demolition; Community Support Flows In For Rebuild
The Visitor’s Bureau has discussed expanding the convention center, which could mean another convention hotel is on the horizon for Sacramento. The new Kimpton Hotel will add an estimated 250 rooms downtown and that’s a plus for the city as it looks forward to next year’s symposium.