Why Latvia?

In 2000, Tom Plocher had a USDA Foreign Agriculture Service travel grant that allowed him to visit Latvia, Estonia, and Belarus sharing info about grapes and winemaking with cold hardy grapes. Andris Dishlers was his host. They travelled all over that region together. They came up with this conference idea as a way to continue the flow of information between the Baltics and North America. Riga is centrally located in the Baltics, so most attendees were able to just drive to the conference on hop on a train. Also, Andris Dishlers and Gvido Dobelis were there in Riga and I knew they could work the government for some money and find a suitable hotel venue for the conference.