Yesterday was a packed first day of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference and we are only now getting a chance to review the day
Wines of Portugal kicked things off with an amazing brunch. Held outside in a huge tent put up just for this occasion by the industrious and extremely welcoming Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, WBC attendees were treated to three food stations paired with Portuguese wines. But that description is too simplistic to describes the foods (Japanese station, Indian station, and Brazilian station) and the delicious wines that went with them.
We then moved inside to hear from keynote speaker Corbett Barr of Fizzle. Corbett was the first-ever non-wine keynote speaker in the seven years of the Wine Bloggers Conference (in which some years we had two keynotes) and he rocked. He clearly did his homework, speaking directly about wine blogging and wine bloggers, discussing the challenges and presenting some potential solutions, and providing a final message that the “Golden Day of wine blogging is still to come”. Corbett was very well received and I heard from multiple people they took long notes and had many ideas for change in their blogging.
We then heard from a panel of Santa Barbara County winemakers, led by by Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines. The four gentleman (Bob Lindquist of Qupé, Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines, and Richard Longoria of Longoria Wines) were elegant and yet casual, wise and yet modest, and very informative about the challenges and successful of local winemakers.
At this point, it was time for some more wine. What better way to proceed than the first Live Wine Blogging, a sort of speed dating created by the WBC way back in 2008 that pairs winemakers and bloggers. Attendees heard from 10 wineries in 50 minutes, each of which had their allotted five minutes to pour for a group of bloggers at a table, tell their story and describe their wine, and answer questions all while the bloggers tasted, analyzed, and wrote about the wine.
We then had three Wine Discovery Sessions and each attendee had to choose one to attend. I’ll be honest and admit I couldn’t attend any as I had to wrap up Live Wine Blogging and prepare for the next event! The sessions include:
- Wine Discovery hosted by Rutherford Hill and Duckhorn Wineries – #MerlotMe (Jockey Club)
- Wine Discovery Hosted by Winebow – When the Sum is Greater than its Parts: Wine Blends from Around the World (Pavilion Tent- Lobby Level)
- Wine Discovery Hosted by Jackson Family Wines – How the Pros Taste (Hotel Lobby)
At that point, it was time for our annual excursions into the local wine country, with 10 individual groups going to 10 different wineries. I don’t know what happened in all 10 groups but mine, which was hosted by the off-limits-to-the-public Hilliard Bruce, was outstanding.
We all gathered back at the hotel for the Wine Tourism Throughout North America reception hosted by Touring & Tasting Marketing and Media. We had wines from seven different regions, accompanied by a flowing chocolate fountain!
The Official After Party then began, hosted by Jordan and J Wineries and then stories will be legend, but I had to get to bed so I could get up the next morning to write this!