The Wine'd ing up to the Wine Bloggers Conferene


As I unpack my bags from my adventures in Croatia & Italy at the International Wine Tourism Conference next week, I am often asked why do you do it? Why do you blog? And, more importantly, why do you go to this Wine Bloggers Conference, every year, in the odd locations and the cool, in less flush times and not?

Well, I’ll tell you. It started in 2008, at the “Flaming-O” (Flamingo) in Santa Rosa. That was the beginning of a core group of intensely dedicated and passionate wineaux that also loved to write. Back then, six years ago, (holy cripes!) it was a smaller group and the conference was just an experiment.

Who were these upstart wine bloggers? Why were we all getting together?  There were no end to the questions, but – we were overwhelmingly well received by the Sonoma County wine and tourism scene. So much so, that many connections I made that first year are now dear friends and colleagues. Several have gone on to more luminous careers in the wine industry.

The following year, I was so excited by my developing blog and writing style, and my blossoming friendships, that of course – I returned to the Flamingo or WBC09.  There, divided between Napa and Sonoma, we explored more wine, culture, and the being of a blogger.  Once again, despite Napkin-Gate (you know who you are), it was an educational, hilarious, convivial, liquid weekend of passion and education.

IMG_1759In 2010, we were invited to Walla Walla, Washington to explore the eastern Washington terroir. Of course I went, off with anticipation and gusto. What is this W2 wine? How will it taste? Mind you, I first stopped in Portalnd, for the most memorable experience at any WBC to date; The Double Decker Donut Decadence Wine Tour! A select group of blogger

beel back

brethren hopped on PDX Double Decker, a converted London City Bus, and hit the road to the Willamette, fueled on sugar and caffeine. I will never forget that trip, and we had Part Deux in Carlton this past year.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, before we meandered off to Virginia for WBC11, I had made fast friends with MaryDoug, Liza, Amy & Joe and more.  As a result, we created our own label of sparkling wine, an effort to embody the sparkling personality of ourselves, and our shared passions. I still have 4 bottles stashed away somehow. Can I smuggle one to Penticton?

In Virginia, I met East Coast  that I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet, and tasted some…interesting…wine in impossibly hot weather. Yes, there were great Cab Francs and lovely Chards. And then I got food poisoning. The most memorable tweet from that event must have been “Where’s Thea? She’s not tweeting! Is she dead?” To which I replied “No, but I wish I was” as I prayed to the porcelain god for 3 days.

Fully recovered and squealing with glee, we headed up to Portland last August for what is probably the largest gathering of wine writers, wine industry professionals, wine amateurs who wanted to party, and a smattering of Quixicotals and maybe Shriners. You’re probably wondering what happens when you mix these people together: the answer – nothing good. Though the Quixicotal wives really did like wine and were happy to take spare samples off our hands as way of apology for the loud crew taking over.

So why do I travel around the country (and the world) to blog? Why do I spend a great deal of tiem and money travelling for wine, drinking wine, learning about wine ? Simple, it’s my passion. Discovering new regions and experiencing the people and wine culture are an eye in to their lives. Learning from other writers helps me writer better. Every year, every conference, every bottle, hones my skill and helps me determine my best self in my best voice. Yes, that voice changes year to year, month to month. Passions change. Directions shift.

But it’s still me. And it’s still about the story. The story of the friendships I have made over 6 years of blogging and WBC events; the story of every bottle of wine; the story of the new winery that happens to be owned by someone I lived next door to when I was 8; the story of how wine tourism has evolved; the story of my personal adventures in wine tourism.

So, it is with great anticipation, and Veteran status ribbons, that I look forward to Penticton in June. It’s my birthday weekend, and it’s another region for me to explore and think about.

Why do you blog? Why do you drink wine? I write about wine because it’s my passion, and I attend these conferences and network with other writers for community.

Thank you to MyWineConcierge.com at TheWinedUp.Net for reminding me about the passion and the reason I do this, and providing us with an opportunity to stay at the Penticton Lakeside Resort for free!  And in case you were wondering, The Wined Up is donating $5 for every entry to the contest to the WBC Scholarship for every entry, so get on it!

Cheers!

Dark & Delicious, mysterious, Petite Sirah

 
Long the source of confusion, Petite Sirah is such a misunderstood grape.  Dark and brooking, dark and delicious.  Yum is what I say!

The love child of Peloursin, a very old, and pretty much dead French varietal, and Syrah, that charming, eclectic Rhône grape, Durif became known as Petite Sirah because of it’s boyish good looks.  Well ok not exactly, but it does sort of look like baby Syrah grapes.

Don’t know much about Petite Sirah?  Lucky for us, Petite Sirah I Love You (PS I Love You) is here to help!  If you’re located in the greater Bay Area or can be here on Friday, February 17th, Dark & Delicious, the annual food and wine pairing focusing on Petite Sirah will take place at Rockwall Winery in Alameda.

Don’t know much about Petite Sirah?  Want to learn more?  Check out the amazing wineries pouring at this event:

Pouring side by side with these wineries, there is also a list of over 35 food purveyors making tidbits to specifically match Petite Sirah’s unique flavor

What others have said about Dark & Delicious:

Wineries Debuting  Wineries Returning
Andis Wines  Artezin (Hess Collection)
Aratas Wines  Aver Family Vineyards
Christian Lazo Wines  Ballentine Vineyards
Flying Horse Wines  Berryessa Gap Winery
Guglielmo Winery  Bogle Vineyards and Winery
Handal Denier  Clayhouse Wines
J. Baldwin Wines  Concannon Vineyard
J. Rickards Winery  David Fulton Winery
Odonata Winery  Diamond Ridge Vineyards
Ridge Vineyards  Don Sebastiani & Sons
Shadowbrook Winery  Estrella Creek Wines
Trueheart Vineyard  F. Teldeschi
 Turkovich Family Winery  Field Stone
 Foppiano Vineyards
 Grizzly Republic
Gustafson Family Vineyards
Harney Lane Winery
Lava Cap
Line 39
Line Shack + Lido Bay Winery
McCay Cellars
Mettler Family Wines
Michael~David Winery
Miro Cellars (with Trentadue)
Mounts Family Winery
Nottingham Cellars
Occasio Winery
Page Mill Winery
Parducci Wine Cellars
R&B Cellars
Robert Biale Winery
Rock Wall Wine Company
Rosenblum Winery
Rutherford Grove
Silkwood Wines
Stage Left Cellars
Stags’ Leap Winery
Stanton Vineyards
Tercero Wines
Trentadue Winery
Tres Sabores
Twisted Oak
Vezér Family Vineyards
Vina Robles
Wilson Vineyards

This is a not to miss event!  Tickets are on sale NOW for $63.  But you, my fabulous readers, have a chance to win a pair!  Just tell me why you love Petite Sirah in the comments below (and for additioanlly entries, don’t forget to use the RaffleCopter Form).  What makes you crave the dark & delcious grape?

See you there!  Happy drinking.

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Pinot – how do I love thee, let me count the ways!

It’s Valentine’s Day today, and that means, roses, chocolate, and – yes!  Pinot Noir!  What better way to say I love you than to share the heartbreak grape with your sweetie.

Personally, Pinot Noir is the wine that excites me the most, because of its mystery, and allure.  There are so many different styles and flavors in a Pinot Noir, and it’s a world in your glass!@

Do you want to learn MORE about Pinot Noir?

On Saturday, February 26th, 300 lucky Pinotphiles will be able to attend the Pinot NOir Summit in San Francisco.  If you are thinking about attending, and you should be, I have a secret deal for you  just because you actually read my blog.  This deal is SO amazing, SO huge, SO fabulous, that you just can’t pass it up!

Because it’s so amazing, i can only offer this deal to two of my readers – well really it’s four – because  here’s the deal..

You can get 2 tickets to the ALL DAY SUMMIT for the price of one!  That’s a $250 value for $125.

Now, I know that seems like a lot of money to spend on wine, but look at what you get:

A full day of Pinot Noir!  Starting with a blind tasting of the top rated juice from a long and arduous process (yeah well I was a judge, such hard work), test your buds against pros, panels, and pinotphiles.  Vote for your faves!  We will find out what women liked, what men liked, and what the judges liked at the end of the day.

You also get your choice of two Pinot Noir workshops.  This year we have:

Session One
New World Pinot Noir
A Question of Style
Discovering New Stars

Session Two

Oak and Pinot Noir…Getting it Just Right

Pinot Noir, the Most Versatile Wine on the Planet

Winemaking 101

But wait!  You thought I was done?  Nope.  You ALSO get a Sparkling Wine Reception, to see how Pinot Noir behaves under pressure.

And then, the GRAND finale – the 9th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout Grand Awards Tasting with top Pinot Noir winemakers showcasing their wines. Includes a pinot-friendly selection of light hors d’oeuvres.

SO if you want to take advantage of this deal, post a comment here and let me know WHY you really want to go and should get this half of deal.  HURRY though!  I only have two to offer and I know it’ll be popular!
I can’t wait to hear your comments!

Through the wine glass…and other tales of wine tasting

There is often a lot of discussion controversy about the use of specific wine glasses in wine tasting; does a wine glass make a difference in how a wine tastes?  Does size really matter?  Or in this case, does SHAPE matter more?  Personally, I think that size and shape are critical for discovering the nuances in some of the finer wines, and particularly good Pinot.  Different shaped glasses aim the wine at different points in your mouth, therefore highlighting flavors more strongly than others.  All this with the shape of a glass.

But what do you do when you don’t want to have 17 individual wine glasses?  Is there really ONE glass that you can use for ALL red wine?  Or all white wine?  Not that I drink that much white wine these days… Personally, I have many all purpose wine glasses, but I still ensure that all of my Pinot Noir is served from Pinot specific glasses because I want to make sure that the subtleties of the wine are captured when I take a sip. I have often been in the situation where all wines are served in hotel type glassware, or “occasion” glassware – the kind you get at a wine festival for example, and not enjoying the wines I was recently at a bar having a glass of Pinot that was served in a small Chianti type glass, and it just left something wanting.  I know the wine was better than that.  Enter a different wine glass, and the expereince can dramatically change.  So, fo rthat purpose, I have many generic, mostly Bordeaux shaped glasses that I use for every day, a few different shapes of Pinot glasses, and a lot of event glasses that I avoid except for parties.

Andrea Robinson, wine expert and master sommelier, has developed a new wine glass called “The One” that promises to be the only wine glass you need.  There is one for red wine, and one for white one, and the red glass closely resembles some of the lesser known Pinot glasses I have seen.  To determine if I would be able to use just ONE glass for all of my red wine needed, I selected two control wines:

A Pinot Noir, because that is what I drink most of right now.  A Syrah, because that is the thing I drink when I’m not drinking Pinot Noir or Rose.

To control the taste test, I chose a Pinot Noir that I knew I liked.  I did that because I didn’t want to run the risk of opening a sample or a wine I wasn’t familiar with.  I also selected a Riedel Pinot Noir glass, the large classic Burgundy balloon, and a generic Pinot Glass that I got at Pinot Days last year.

I sipped.  I sniffed.  I tasted.  I sipped some more.

First:  The Riedel, my go to Pinot Glass, actually accentuated to omuch of the bitter spiecde and wood characteristics of the wine.  I was a bit mifed at this since I knew I loved this wine.

Next, I tried the generic Pinot Days glass.  mmmm there was my old friend, the rich spicy juicy raspberry Pinot.  That was more like it.

Finally, I tasted the wine out of Andrea’s glass.  Ok it was good, but the cherry berry cola accents were too strong for my taste.

Ok, let’s let the wine sit for bit.

Same thing.  So, score one for generic, zero for Andrea.

Next, my sample set was a syrah.  Again, a wine I know and love.  This time I selected a generic event glass, with the basic Bordeaux shape, but smaller.  I also selected a Cost Plus Connessieur stem, which is made by Spiegulau, which is now owned by Reidel.  Pretty much the same line up as the Pinot Noir blind sample.

For this wine, The One faired just as well as a generic tasting glass.  The wine was lovely, and the nuances of flavor were showing through.

One thing that I really love about these glasses, all shapes and sizes being said, is that they are tough.  I am really hard on my glasses.  I knock them over (frequently).  I bang them in my sink.  I crash them against

dishes.  The One did NOT break!  For that reason alone, I would buy some for general use.  At $50 for a set of 4, they are reasonable, especially if they last through a party or bashing them around.

The verdict:  If you are a Pinot Noir snob, I’d make sureyou have a couple of specialty glasses on hand for that purpose.  I am picky about my Pinot Noir glasses, and I do believe that different shapes impact how you percieve the flavor of a wine, particularly if you have  a developed palate.  the reason this happens is that different shapes target the wine on different centers of taste buds in your mouth.  There is a lot of controversy abuot these tounge maps, but I find that for me – it’s true.

If you’d like to try The One by Andrea Robinson for yourself, I have a set to give away, 1 white, 1 red.  Just leave a comment and tell me why you need a new wine glass!  I’d love it if you wrote about your opinion as well, but that’s not required.