Day 1 of the 2010 North American Wine Bloggers Conference was packed full of activity, exciting, and fun. The WiFi worked perfectly (yeah!), the wines were delicious, and the events were educational.
The day started with registration and a Meet the Sponsors section where attendees were able to talk to all the great sponsors of the conference. The wine pouring started early with wines from the Lake Chelan Wine Growers Association, Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Winebow, Rias Baixas Albarino, The Meritage Alliance, The Secret Sherry Society, Sinclair Estate Vineyards, Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Hogue Cellars, Barnard Griffin Winery, and Mollydooker Wines.
It’s interesting. On the one hand, bloggers love trying new wines they might not have ever seen before. On the other, the wineries and associations themselves really enjoyed the experience, from what they told us. In fact, many of the sponsors commented on what a pleasure it was to pour for such knowledgeable, interested, note-taking people.
At noon we had a special “taco truck lunch”, generously paid for by the folks at the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. Taco trucks are a staple of the Walla Walla area, thanks to the large Hispanic population in the area.
The conference itself started at 2:00 PM with a keynote speech by writer and wine blogger Steve Heimoff. No one really knew what to expect from Steve, who is not shy from controversy, but Steve exceeded all expectations. He gave an extremely thoughtful speech explaining a bit of the history of wine writing, touching on a few of the recent controversies in the wine blogging world, looking into the future on how wine writing and blogging might progress, and finally providing a few tips to aspiring wine bloggers. One of the highlights of the speech for many was Steve’s assertion that bloggers, with their intense desire for transparency, are pushing traditional wine writers in the same direction.
Following Steve’s speech, Alan Kropf from Mutineer Magazine brought the Wine Blog Awards to a whole new level with his high-tech, high-energy presentation. Check out that website for the winners!
We then broke up into three groups for a brand-new aspect of the conference, the About Wine Blogging sessions. The three sessions were for beginner bloggers, advanced bloggers, and those wishing to learn about how bloggers and the wine industry can better interact. Thanks to all of our presenters: Colby Vorhees of Wine Peeps, Joe Power of Another Wine Blog, Catie Walker of Walla Walla Wine Woman, Joe Roberts of 1 Wine Dude, Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape, RJ Hilgers of RJ’s Wine Blog, Craig Camp of Wine Camp Blog, Lori Narlock of Wilson Daniels and Bob Silver of MWW Group.
And then the real fun began. 27 wineries showed up to pour one wine each during the 3rd annual Live Wine Blogging session. This year, upon the specific suggestion at last year’s conference by Jason Mancebo from $20 Dollar Wine Blog, we broke the Live Wine Blogging into two sessions: white and red. Yesterday was all white (and rosé) wines and we had a typically crazy, fun event. If you have never participated in this, Live Wine Blogging alone is reason to come to next year’s conference.
The evening was equally impressive, thanks to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates who put on a fantastic reception and dinner. If you didn’t get a chance to try the 2006 Columbia Valley Merlot and 2006 Walla Walla Valley Merlot from Northstar Winery (thanks to Bean for the recommendation), make sure to pick up a couple bottles at home.
And finally, the capper to the evening was the Walla Walla walkabout put on by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. Ten downtown wine bars, which opened just for us, were packed with bloggers.What a great way to see one of the coolest small towns in America.