Well, let’s see, what can I say that I haven’t already said. Heat + humidity do not mix with social outings. I’ll try to shut up now. Approximately 4-6 hours were set aside to visit the vineyards of Virginia as attendees piled into random buses not knowing which wineries they would visit. As the travelers dripped their way back to the hotel, I heard a lot of good things, and a lot of bad. Good = lunch inside. Bad = lunch outside. All loved the wineries tours, all mixed on the quality of VA wine; but that VA Viogniers seem to be best known and best liked. Some of the wineries visited were White Hall, King Family, Flying Fox, Cardinal Point and Afton Mountain – to name a few. We were offered a pre-dinner reception with Cognac/EU…who scheduled this? Cognac pre-dinner?? The dinner was alot of fun. Wine Blog Awards were announced by a very colorful presenter. We tasted 12? wines to pair with the food, which was so-so. I felt sorry for the servers who seemed totally out of their element serving that much wine. Evening ended with a Vibrant Rioja Crawl.
Wine Bloggers Conference, July 22, 2011
Thomas Jefferson was founder and architect of the University of Virginia. Conceived by 1800 and established in 1819, it is the only university in the United States to be designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, an honor it shares with nearby Monticello. Day 1 of the conference started with an optional walking tour of the campus. I was not able to go due to the weather heating up, which eventually turned into a sweatbath. We found out later that it was the hottest day in Charlottesville in 11 years!
Indoors however, was the meeting of the sponsors which was a lot of fun. They were very approachable, charming, and gracious, ready to make us feel welcome, and, of course offering their wine portfolios. After that was the keynote address with Jancis Robinson.
As we all had thought from the start, Jancis was absolutely entertaining, thought-provoking, very approachable, and full of solid information. Dead on for the perfect keynote speaker.
One of the things that bothered me throughout the conference was that there was little to no food offered anytime during the day (none that I knew of anyway). From 9am to 6pm, there was no food anywhere and the schedule did not allow any time to even run out and grab something. The ironic thing too was that a friend of mine asked that afternoon, “Where can a girl get a glass of wine around here”? So true, here we were at a conference for wine bloggers and there was no wine to be had between the keynote address at 1:15pm and the live wine blogging at 4:20pm. No food and no wine???
Being afraid of suffering from heatstroke (I’m hot-blooded – no comments), I had to avoid almost all of the social events that were offered at the WBC11, as they were outside. Friday night there was a wonderful evening planned at Monticello; however, the event was held outside under an open tent. I did not go, but I did hear that people were dropping like flies. After the visit to Monticello was the “Other 46″ tasting at the hotel. Just as the international grand tasting from the night before, there were far less presenters of wine than you would think. There may have been about 6? states represented. So sad.
Oh well…there were social events being held in the hotel during and after Monticello, but they were private, “secret”, invitation only, parties. I suppose as a first time attendee and beginning blogger I did not personally know enough people for any invites. So sad.
I have read that some people did most of their networking during these private parties and felt that the conference itself didn’t offer much except for those parties. So sad.
Wine Bloggers Conference, Thursday, July 21
International Wine Tasting Night
Let me first say that I was a scholarship recipient, and for that I am quite grateful. Thank you for all the people who donated to the scholarship fund. If it hadn’t been for them, I would not have made it to the WBC. With that being said; however, I was quite disappointed in the reality of the conference, for the most part. As a first time participant, maybe my expectations did not match that of the organizers.
These are my thoughts on the first event of the conference, an international wine tasting night, which I was quite excited about. As it turned out there were a total of 6 tables pouring wines, this to me is quite a poor showing. I’m not saying that the wines were not good, some were tasty, but we were an incredible, captured audience wanting to try a variety of wine – we blog about it, tweet about it, FB about it – talk about free press, yet it didn’t seem like very many wineries, distributors, or importers were very interested in showing their portfolios. Disappointing for us, and bad decision for them. Many of the pourers were just that, someone who was called in at the last minute who had no idea what they were pouring, where the wines were from, what the tasting notes were, or any type of story behind the wine. They even confessed that they knew nothing about the wine. For a WBC, you would think they would be prepared to talk about the wines at length. Review of day 2 coming up.
The Wine Bloggers Conference starts July 21st, just 5 days a way in Charlottesville, VA. I’m so excited I would actually think about swirl, sip, and NOT spit! Heaven forbid. The night of July 21st is the International Wine Tasting Night - to sip and spit, or to sip and swallow – what a dilemma! Some of the sponsors that have graciously offered wine for the event include Wines of Chile, Wines of South Africa, Aveniu Brands, Vibrant Rioja, and Planet Bordeaux.
I may know your opinion of wine bloggers – stuffy, full of verbose tasting notes- well, that’s not me – I’ve studied at the International Sommelier Guild (ISG), but I have a long way to go educationally speaking - I like it, or I don’t – it’s that simple.
Speaking of a down to earth, full of education (Master of Wine), author, speaker, James Beard Award Winner (well, I could go on and on), is Jancis Robinson. Like I said, you may think of wine bloggers as trifle, but Jancis is a keynote speaker – quite the coup! Wikipedia mentions that ”She currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and also writes for her website www.jancisrobinson.com.
I bought the 3rd edition of the book she compiled and edited, the Oxford Companion to Wine from Amazon, thinking it would be great to get her to autograph it. OMG! This hardback book is over 800 pages and weighs over six pounds – oh, you know, some light reading on the plane. NOT an electronic copy obviously. But the pictures and information are just astounding and simply wouldn’t do it justice in an electronic format.
Follow the conference events as we blog on Twitter – look for the hashtag #wbc11. See you there personally or virtually!