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Highlights of the Wine Bloggers Conference

I have just returned home from this year’s Wine Blogger Conference. It was held in  Santa Rosa, California and was the perfect location. Although the destination was chosen last August, the timing was perfect.  For all those reading this and have read the “fake news” that wine country has burned to the ground, I am here to help defunct that rumor. Here are a few of my highlights from the wine bloggers conference. (WBC)

Wine Country Was NOT Lost to the Fires

Yes, there were many regions that were hit hard. Yes, I drove through areas that had burned down homes, restaurants, trailer parks, etc.  Yes, there are a lot of people who have been to hell and are on their way back. BUT… rest assured…. Wine Country is alive and doing well.  The best thing you can do to help the region is to COME VISIT! 

courtesy of ashleybridget.com

I stayed at an AirBnB that was located about three miles away from the host hotel. As I drove around the area, you can see the devastation.  It reminded me of a tornado site. One business was burned to the ground while the one right next to it seemed relatively unaffected. 

Although it was humbling, the positiveness in the air was so obvious.  There were numerous signs that were thanking first responders as well as the motto #SonomaStrong. Human nature never fails to surprise me.  I met people who lost everything, but were still maintaining a positive attitude. Additionally, there are so many people who avoided destruction and were opening their homes to others.  The world may be a scary place sometimes, but I have seen first hand there are many caring people willing to go out of their way to help others. As I stated, wine country is open and it’s waiting for you! 

Social Media Friends Turning to IRL Friends

Not to be negative, because I think the conference has many positive attributes, but to me, the best part of the conference is meeting social media friends in real life. We joke that it is like we have known each other for years, even though we have never met each other before. 

At last year’s conference, I officially met Ryan, aka TheFermentedFruit. We hit it off from the start and spent the majority of our time together. This year was no different.  I looked forward to catching up with him at this conference since I haven’t seen him since then. We decided that since the conference didn’t officially start until 5pm on Thursday, that we would go wine tasting on our own during the day.

Once that was planned, I reached out to another blogger that I love reading, Stacy, aka BriscoBites and asked if she wanted to join us.  I was thrilled that she said yes. As Ryan and I drove to Stacy’s hotel, we joked how wine bloggers feel like we’ve known each other for years even though we have never met.  We pulled into the hotel parking lot and saw Stacy immediately standing outside waiting. We rolled the window down and literally yelled out, “Hey- get in the car, lady!”  She looked up, smiled, and got in our car. It was as if all three of us knew each other forever. Conversation was easy, and the laughs were plenty! I am honored to call them friends. 

One on One Winery Time

Ok, maybe not really one on one…. but it sure felt that way. On Friday evening, we were whisked away by Lisa Mattson of Jordan Winery. Upon stepping into the bus, we were handed a glass of their new Sparkling wine, Jordan Cuvee. We exited the bus and were escorted into the beautiful barrel tank room.  Just to the right was the barrel room, where there were tables and chairs. Sitting down, we were greeted with more Jordan Cuvee and a plate of caviar.  Jordan knows how to impress.

After the caviar/wine pairing, and an introduction to the chef and the caviar program, we returned to the oak tank room to sit down for dinner. (yes, there was more!) First course was Abalone and Jordan extra virgin olive oil poached Halibut paired with their 2015 RRV Chardonnay. Followed by grilled duck in olive oil confit that was exquisite with the 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The final course was beyond amazing as it was cheese paired with 2003 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jordan truly knows how to be the exceptional host and I recommend you scheduling a visit when you are in the area. 

Speed Dating Tasting

Do you have 50 minutes? Do you love wine? Then swipe right and sign up for next year’s wine bloggers conference and be prepared to go head to head with 10 wines in 50 minutes. The basic premise of Live Wine Blogging is that ten wineries move from table to table in five-minute intervals and the bloggers sip and post out as much social media as they can.  It’s a frenzy and in all honesty, although fun, I am not a true believer in it. If you would like to virtually attend the session check out this YouTube video

I sipped, I laughed, and I enjoyed the wine. But can I explain why I liked the wine after the 50 minutes is over? No, I can’t.  You are so busy trying to type away – and thank you Twitter for giving me 280 characters for the event, it came in very handy – that you pretty much sip and quickly decide what to tweet about, then it’s time for that winery to move on.  What I did like about this year’s event, is they gave us a half hour afterwards to go and find either the wines that we had and wanted to revisit or ones that we weren’t able to experience in the tasting.  This provided more ability to taste and savor. 

Tasting Panels

On each day of the conference, there are break out tastings.  The first was a choice between Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC and DOP Cariñena. Since I had just attended the NYC Spain’s Great Match event, I decided to attend DOP Cariñena. Cariñena is located in the province Zaragoza of Spain and its capital, Campo de Cariñena is home of the grape by the same name. 

Although I was impressed with the tasting and the entire presentation, the next day’s tasting blew me away.  My choice for that day included DO Rías Baixas or The O.G. PG: An Exploration of Alsace’s Pinot Gris Styles . I was introduced to Albariño when participating in a #winestudio session and it was love at first sight.  I must admit, I was tempted to go to the Alsace session to try something new, but my heart won out and led me to Rias Baixas

More to Come

There was a lot more going on at the conference, but this is just my intro post, so please stay tuned for more about Live Wine Blogging, Rias Baixas, and #CAWineStrong in my future posts. In the meantime, I’d like to send a shout out to some special people who I was thrilled to be able to spend time with this weekend. Hit them up on Twitter: 

WeLikeDrinking 

Advinetures

NancyFeasts

NapaFoodandVine

TalkAVino

Topochinesvino

JVBUncorked

K1Reynolds

TheDrunkenCyclist

WineCommGuy

Until the next time. ~Sláinte!

Ryan O”Hara, Jeff Solomon, Stacy Briscoe, Jeff Eckles and me in the “wine clown car”