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Insider: International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association

This organization offers a wealth of professional options for members, including an in-person conference, hosted press trips, a digital magazine, and virtual cooking demonstrations and wine tastings.

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The year Oregon travel writer Nancy Zaffaro attended the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) conference on Washington state’s Whidbey Island, she found herself on a barge with several other members learning about the life stages of mussels. “We got to watch where they grow and how they’re harvested,” she explains. “The public doesn’t often get this opportunity, but it’s important for writers to see things like this so they can go off and describe them for others.” 

Zaffaro is a longtime member of ​IFWTWA. It’s an international network of storytellers, offering professional development and networking for creators who represent food, wine, travel, and hospitality industries. Members include journalists, bloggers, and podcasters, videographers, and others. Online year-round as well as during in-person events, foodies network with adventure travelers, and wine aficionados fraternize with architectural history buffs. 

Members hail from all over the world. “We’re all so spread out,” Zaffaro says. “But we have a members-only Facebook page on which new members get introduced, and everyone welcomes them and shares information. It’s a very giving group.”

How it works

Membership is available at a variety of levels. Regular membership requires writers to provide evidence of their publications in the food, wine, travel, and/or hospitality industry over the previous two years. The Association also accepts bloggers who have been writing on a related topic over the past year, provided they have a robust following. Journalists who have written a book on a topic related to the Association’s focus may apply for a regular membership as well.

Members receive the Press Pass Newsletter, a member profile online, and an invitation to pitch stories to the organization’s dedicated digital magazine, Food, Wine & Travel, which receives 16,000 pageviews monthly.

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What you’ll learn

Periodic webinars offer cooking demonstrations, virtual wine tastings, overviews of particular destinations, and presentations on writing, photography, and video creation. A webinar in August 2022 spotlighted the travel organization Visit Pensacola, with representatives on hand to talk about its food, arts, culture, and recreational opportunities.

The IFWTWA conference brings members and guests together every 12 to 18 months for two full days of workshops, which include food and wine tastings and other culinary events. Participants are invited to apply for press trips before and after the conference; they often find themselves exploring new areas off the beaten path, as well as unique food- and wine-related experiences.

In a Whidbey Island restaurant, Zaffaro admired the locally crafted plates and cups on the table. Post-​conference, she visited the potter’s studio to learn about the process of creating dishes specific to restaurant use and wrote about the experience for Epicure & Culture. “The collaboration between these two artists was really interesting to me,” she explains. 

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In September 2022, the Association held its conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. Participants learned about perfecting story pitches, mastering search engine optimization as a freelance writer and/or blogger, and how to create an Instagram reel to promote one’s work. Chef Dean Max gave a keynote presentation, while Andrew Harris, who co-hosts The SoCal Restaurant Show, moderated a culinary panel. Local guides offered tours of the city and its museums, and conference attendees had the opportunity to apply for regional press trips around Florida before and after the event. 

How to participate

The Association hosts press trips for members year-round. From IFWTWA’s website: “From culinary tours in Jordan, cultural tours in Greece, the thunderous beach culture of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, to a gathering to explore the rustic and historic New England culture of Vermont, you’ll find our press trips offer something for writers with the broadest range of interests.”

Zaffaro suggests new members peruse the biographies of established members on the Association’s website and take note of where they’re publishing their work. A glance at the membership page reveals a roster of veteran journalists and bloggers, plus editors, publishers, teachers, doctors, photographers, videographers, and experts on everything from seafood to Italian wine, from golf to the Egyptian pyramids. 

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Zaffaro appreciates the opportunities that membership gives her to meet people who work in the food, wine, and travel industry. “They work really hard, and we get to see what they do and then share it,” she says. “New members will get a lot of energy from seeing the type of work we do together.” 

Learn more about International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association at ifwtwa.org. Contact Administrative Director Hilarie Larson with questions at [email protected].

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—Contributing Editor Melissa Hart is the author, most recently, of Daisy Woodworm Changes the World. melissahart.com

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