Wine Blogging & Content Creation: It’s all about engagement

Connections.  Networking.  Friendship.  Community.  These are some of the top reasons that people attend the Wine Bloggers Conference, year after year.  As we approach the 10th anniversary event in Sonoma next year, I have to reflect on how this event has grown and changed over the last 9 years.

Beginning in 2008, when there were a scant 100 of us gathered at the Flamingo in Santa Rosa, we all knew each other (or at least knew of each other).   It was a tight knight community of online writers, and we were all learning about the new platform for sharing our stories.  There were, indeed, a few standout stars already emerging, however the playing field was level.  Twitter was in it’s infancy, and there was very little video out there specific to wine.

Moving through the years to this year’s conference in Lodi, a lot has changed.  And yet, very little has changed.  Building a strong network of influence is still about seeking connections.  The primary difference today, is that where you find these connections has changed.

In 2008, we found these connections at the conference, on Wine 2.0 (a now defunct social network for wine lovers and writers), at wine events, and on twitter.  Today, those networks have expanded to include video channels such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and more.  And yet, the process of searching, connecting, and engaging is still the same.

As a professional consultant, I network every day.  That is the key to building my brand and my business.  Translating those skills to my blog, I shift my connections from technology and potential clients to wineries, regional associations, and individuals that I would like to connect with.

When you are finding people to build connections with, ask yourself:  What can I offer them with my wine blogging (content creation)?  What problem can I help solve?  How am I benefiting them with my wine blogging?  How am I working on improving my wine blogging?   In terms of the Wine Bloggers Conference, I can offer 9 years of experience watching the conference and the blogging world grow and develop.  In the wine industry, what can you offer?  Do you have a unique angle?  Is your audience something they should target?

As a wine blogger, content creator, digital wine writer, however you want to describe it, I look for these connections.  As Andrea Robinson said during her keynote this year, how do you add personal value?  What are you doing to create value in yourself?  By seeking, building connections, and acting on these connections, you are building your personal value.

But how do you get to engagement?  You’ve done the hard part, you’ve built your connections by going to WBC.  You’ve met dozens of people in person that you only knew online, or didn’t know at all.  Now, you need to act on those connections.  Today, engagement means more than it did in 2008.  At the first WBC, we had interactive blogs and monthly wine blogging writing challenges.  In 2016, we have live video streaming, twitter tastings, and other collaborative platforms to share our wine blogs and create collaborative content.

Furthermore, engagement means sharing and spreading content that you like.  It’s not enough to like a post on Facebook or on Instagram.  Today’s challenging social media culture requires you to engage with these platforms and share other people’s content.  By building engagement with others’, you are attracting other people to your content.

The most successful people in business, and the most successful bloggers, have strong networks and connections.  As a community, wine bloggers and content creators are very open and engaged.  Expanding that engagement and practicing those skills will net you rewards that are unexpected, and enriching.connect

So what are the key takeaways from this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference?

  • Network, network, network.  This is how you build your connections.  This doesn’t mean acting entitled and expecting everything to be handed to you, this is the hard work part.  Attend a local wine festival, go wine tasting, buy wine.
  • Keep in mind, it takes time to build a network.  Don’t expect this to happen overnight.  Just like business, building a network of wineries, associations and PR professionals is driven by your content, longevity, and professionalism.
  • With dozens of social networks, choose the 2-3 that you can focus on and pay focus on.  It’s better to do more with less than to do less with more.  This goes hand in hand with knowing your audience.  Where do they hang out?
  • Know your audience.  Spend a little time finding out where they are, what they are reading, and how you can tailor your content for them.  That doesn’t mean sacrificing what you want to write about, but rather finding new and interesting things for your audience to read.
  • Keywords are your friends.  By doing a little research, you can get big rewards.  What are people looking for?  What value can you add?  What wines do you have in your rack that people want to know about?
  • Search, connect, engage.  Engage in your community.
  • Don’t focus on monetizing your blog.  Monetize yourself (more on this later).  What value can you add?
  • Educate yourself.  Are there classes or certifications you can pursue that will help you?
  • Content is king, both at the conference and on your blog.  Every year, there is some of the same content and a lot of new content at the conference.  But even old dogs can learn new tricks.
  • Don’t be stagnant.  What can you learn?  What can you change?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The platforms might have changed, but the core values have not.  Have fun, have wine, learn new things, and meet new people!


Refugio Ranch – a hideway for the stars

Refugio Ranch

After the mayhem of the Wine Bloggers Conference had subsided a bit, the #QBP (and token Joe) decided to stick around a bit longer an enjoy the relative peace of Los Olivos on a Sunday afternoon.

As luck would have it, fearless leader Melanie had arranged for a visit to Refugio Ranch Winery for some tasting and tweeting.  As we gathered in Los Olivos to relax in the Montana style hunting lodge tasting room, I could tell it was going to be a great visit.  But the tasting room was only the beginning…

In 2005, owner Kevin and Niki Gleason found the 415 estate property, which they planted to 26 acres of vines.  Intending to maintain the property, tucked behind the town and well hidden form any view or civilization, the estate ranch is a piece of history that is truly stunning to enjoy.  Our group was whisked away from the tasting room and taken through the winding roads of the Santa Ynez hills, stepping back in time as we drove farther out of time.

Approaching the retreat house, you can see the prime acreage planted to Rhone grapes, and the careful maintenance of the land is evident by the sprawling gardens, oak trees, and agriculture use.  There is no monoculture here.Refugio Ranch

The Grape Whisperer, aka vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano, carefully selected blocks and varieties that he thought would best suit the property.  Winemaker Ryan Deovlet began producing these amazing wines in 2011, and together with the Gleasons, they have created a small slice of heaven.

Tucked away on the ranch, the guest house is a rustic reminder that this is still a weekend retreat for the family.  Sitting on the porch, overlooking the ranch, you might think you were an extra in Little House on the Prairie – except the wine in your hand will make you forget about everything modern, sit back, and relax.  It’s no coincidence that you feel your inner cowgirl / cowboy coming out on this property, much like a back lot at Universal Studios, as Refugio Ranch was an untouched cattle ranch that had been in operation for centuries.  The transition to vineyards was a natural one, but the owners are carefully maintaining the native habitats and ecosystems, while using the best pieces for vineyards – maintaining a clear balance between past, present, nature, and man.

Refugio Ranch

Next time we’ll sit out there!

Refugio Ranch is the only vineyard on this side of the Santa Ynez River, and gently rolls up from teh river to the ridge.  With only 26 acres planted, it’s hard to spot the vines, but easy to taste the terroir that makes this property unique.  The prime area is only 6 miles from the ocean, and is planted in salty, ancient sandy loam – the result of ancient sea beds, and long term drought.  This area of Santa Ynez gets very little fog in the morning, but a lot in the evening, lending a cooling influence perfect for those Rhones.

Keeping in tune with the cowboy theme, with a Spanish influence, the labels are a throwback to the cattle ranch days.  I couldn’t pick a favorite since our host, Director of Sales & Marketing Jeff Butler kept pouring delicious wines, but here are some thoughts for your tasting pleasure:

2012 Viognier – 100% Viognier, fermented partially in stainless, as well as French oak.  Fresh and lively, with stone fruit and lychee, folllowed by fresh wildflower honey.  This was a beautiful example of what viognier should be, with rich fruit but bright, lively personality.

2011 Ineseño – 57% Roussane / 43% Viognier.  Fermented in stainless and concrete eggs, with 29% new oak, and 10% neutral oak, another Rhone style gem.  Brilliant gold peaches, spice box, and fruit compote.  A perfect glass with Thai food, or sitting on your porch enjoying life.

2012 Escondrijo – a rich blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Petite Sirah, this “hideaway” is a winter warmer, with cigar box, rose petals, saddle leather, and tobacco, along with blackberry cobbler and cherry pie.  This is something I wanted more of in my glass, even on a hot day and would be amazing with Pumpkin Pie on your holiday table.

Refugio Ranch

Herb garden & insectary

Refugio Ranch

Refugio Ranch

The view from our tasting porch

All images by Thea Dwelle, all rights reserved.  But if you ask nice, I might share.  The experience was courtesty of the winery, but we all left with several bottles in our hot little hands – which should encourage you to visit.  While the ranch is closed to the public, and we felt like movie stars, the Los Olivos tasting room is open and waiting for you.

Naramata Bench adventures

IMG_2004 On the first full day of the 2013 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, while I was doing some last minute rehearsal and logistical planning for my discussion on Saturday about positioning your blog(more on that later however), the rest of the attendees were enjoying some interesting insights on podcasting, the use of photography, and other digital media in their blogging efforts.

After a morning and afternoon filled with Google Plus, Compelling Content, Wines of Ontario, and a rather wonderful speech from author James Conway, we were off on our chosen buses to our evening excursions to local wineries.
Unlike past WBCs, we were able to chose our buses based on an activity, or theme.  I chose the paddleboarding adventure, since I hadn’t been to the

Naramata Bench

area of the Okanagan and was curious.

Off we went in our two mini buses, darting in and out of wineries for a quick dry by tour before stopping to hear more about the unique terroir of the area.  The Naramata Bench Wineries Association is a group of 24 wineries that stretch along 24 kilomenters of lakeshore, both high and low, on the east side of Lake Okanagan.

With sandy cliffs and gently sloping lakeside land, these vineyards have a unique climate that is perfect for some of the areas Bordeaux styel reds.  The views aren’t bad either!IMG_1942

Our adventure took us through a vineyard, and culminated at Sandy Beach Lodge, where the Naramata Bench wineries were hosting a walk around tasting and dinner, showcasing the best of the area.

In addition to the tasting, here at the sandy beach, we had the option of partaking in the paddleboarding.  Now, I wasn’t dressed for the occasion (hey it was my birthday!) but several of my blogging brethren certainly did!



If you go, be sure to stop by these wineries:

  • Black Widow Winery – specializing in single vineyard wines, I especially liked the Merlot.
  • Elephant Island Orchard Wines – I was not expecting to enjoy these fruit wines, but boy was I wrong.  Some were more like a hybrid between wine and cider, others were refreshing and unexpected.
  • Howling Bluff – I love Pinot Gris, and the Okanagan makes some stunning examples.  This is one of my favorites.
  • Popular Grove – the view from the terrace is simply stunning and second to none.  The home of Vanilla Pod restaurant, this was my favorite stop on my first visit to the region.  The red wines are world class and I wish I could take home a case!

With four seasons and a festival for each one, now is the time to visit the area!




How to be a good conference attendee

It’s July 31st.  HOW is it the end of July already?  Eeks.  Must.  Go.  Pack.  I’ll be leaving in 10 days for some pre Wine Bloggers Conference fun, and meandering through Oregon experiencing the best of the Willamette with my friend from Fab OC Wine Chick.  Can we say I cannot wait?

But really, the point of my trip to Oregon is to attend the 5th annual Wine Bloggers Conference, where 350+ wine bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers, and industry people of all sorts will get together to exchange ideas, get to know each other, and learn from each other.  What a way to spend a weekend!

That said, there are a large amount of WBC Virgins attending this year.  Even those that have attended before have been guilty of not following some of these suggestion below, and have left a…lasting impression.  Here are a few things I have learned from my five conferences.  Five years and five conferences, the event has grown and changed – but most of these tips hold true no matter the size.

  • Get to know your sponsors.  We have a few hours on Friday to learn who has made the event possible; stop by and say hi!  You never know what relationships might form.  I will be there manning the WBC Scholarship table for the first time (YAY!), so if you’ve ever wondered what we’re about, please come talk to us.
  • Attend the keynotes with Rex Pickett and Randall Graham –  The keynotes are a fascinating way to get to know how the wine community thinks of bloggers, and also, how they became who they are.
  • Attend the breakouts –  There is a lot to learn.  Too many people don’t attend the core of the conference and they miss out.  While you need choose which bits are important to you as a blogger, not attending them is just a waste of your time.
  • Spit spit spit.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Yes, there are moments (dinner, after hours parties) where I don’t spit and enjoy myself, but you are representing bloggers as a whole, and should have some decorum.  It’s a business conference at the core, disguised as a party.  Present yourself accordingly.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Our goodie bags are sure to contain an aluminum water bottle which you can use to fill up at every opportunity.
  • Don’t forget to sleep –  There is nothing worse than a blogger snoring in a session.
  • Enjoy your wine responsibly – no one likes a drunk blogger.  It is embarrassing for others, irresponsible, and sets a bad tone.  Additionally, it is not looked upon favorably by speakers and sponsors when the audience is only half full after a night of partying.  You will miss parts of the conference while sleeping off your hang over!  By all means, enjoy yourself.  I certainly plan to partake.  But if you cannot get your butt int he chair the next morning, please go to Vegas instead.
  • Engage in the spontaneous events – these are the best way to network with your fellow bloggers, writers, and industry professionals.  Going to dinner?  Sure!  Having a beer at a local brewery?  Awesome!
  • Go with the flow, don’t get overwhelmed – Don’t attempt to schedule yourself within an inch of yourlife.  Be prepared to want to do more than one thing at once.  There are always going to be multiple tastings and pop up parties; you can’t attend everything, so don’t even try.
  • Have an open mind –  You never know if there are wines you wouldn’t normally try, sessions that might make you think about something in a different way.  Try something new!
  • Don’t try to control things – Don’t worry about what bus you’rell be on or what winery you’ll be attending.  Even if you end up some place you’ve been 100 times before, just enjoy the experience.  This is not a traditional winery visit and trying to over analyze it will make yourself more miserable.  I know this from personal experience.
  • Bring a piece of yourself – something that represents your region, style, and / or personality.  This could be wine, but it could also be food, a book, or a t-shirt.
  • Bring business cards – Lots and lots of business cards.  Yes it may seem archaic, but it’s the best way to quickly introduce yourself with a memorable item.  The stacks of cards collected are reminders when we get home to follow, tweet, and read other peoples information.
  • Follow the #wbc12 twitter stream – Make sure your twitter account is not protected (my main account is, but I tweet under @luscious_lushes for public consumption).  We want to hear your thoughts!  This is the best way to share with the entire conference at once.
  • Don’t try to blog at the conference – Jot down your thoughts but don’t feel the need to be the blogger with the most posts during the conference.  It’s more important to be engaged than it is to be typing.  Editor’s note:  in previous years, I have said, blog before, during and after the conference; however, I have noticed that some people will be missing key events at the conference for the sake of blogging.  While inspiration can come anywhere at anytime (thank you Tom Wark for the reminder!) my advice is to participate fully.  If you find a golden nugget of thought, by all means flesh it out and post, but don’t hide yourself in the wi-fi matrix the whole time.
  • Find a party to attend – This is a great way to get to know people on a personal level.  Sponsors, wineries, and bloggers all host formal and informal parties during the event.  These will be communicated via twitter, email and facebook so this is a great reason to be active on social media.  Heck, you can be assured that if you just walk the hallways at the host hotel, you will hear where a party is after hours!
  • Turn around and say hello to your neighbor –   Don’t be shy, just say hi!  Many of us know each other online but not in person.  Some of us might know know each other at all.  The WBC is all about community so don’t isolate yourself as this will make for a lonely weekend.  This is a social conference, but you need to be proactive and be social.  Sitting around and complaining that no body asked you to play kickball is not going to make you have a good time.

Here is what I think I will be doing:
Thursday August 16th

Returning from the Salem pre-conference excursion,  the official welcome reception will be hosted by the Oregon Wine Board.  Those who are already in twon will have a chance to get to know their fellow attendees before the madness.  There are also some pop up events in the works.  Join the facebook group to learn more!

Friday, August 17th

  • 10-12 Meet the Sponors – I’ll be there with my WBC Scholarship crew, selling blogger bling ribbons, and meeting the other sponsors.
  • 10-12:20 Argentinian wine pariing walk aroudn lunch – the perefect time to grab some food before the confernece begins.
  • 12:30 – Keynote with Randall Graham
  • 1:20 – Live wine blogging; Speed dating for whites & roses!
  • 2:30 – winery visits!  Wherever you end up, it will be a great afternoon & evnign!
  • 9:30 – back at the hotel, the free form Night of Many Bottles offers you a chance to share your favorite wine, and taste some other favorite that attendees have brought.

Additionally, there are more pop up parties on Friday nigtht!

Saturday, August 18th

  • 9:25 AM Three Blogger-to-Blogger Discussions
  • How Bloggers Influence the Wine World
  • 10:45 AM Breakout Sessions
  • The Winery View of Wine Bloggers
  • 11:45 Lunch at a local brewery nearby
  • 1:15 PM Three Breakout Sessions
  • The Art of Oregon Pinot – A Clonal Tasting
  • 3:35 PM Keynote Speech – Rex Pickett
  • 4:20 PM Live Wine Blogging – Reds
  • 5:20 PM Pre-Dinner Reception with New Wines of Greece
  • 7:00 PM Dinner with King Estate Winery
  • 8:45 PM International Wines Night
  • 10:15 PM Unofficial Post Parties

Sunday, August 19

  • 9:30 AM Q&A with Wine Blog Awards winners who are present
  • 10:30 AM Ignite Wine!
  • 11:15 AM  Preview of 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference

On Sunday I am off to Carlton to taste some more delicious wine and have fun.

Finally, above all have FUN.  Don’t take yourslef too seriously, and engage.  Join a

past blogger bling - we will have some new ones, and some of these, and some others!

conversation, meet new people.  Say hello to random strangers with WBC badges on.  We don’t bite!  Buy blogger bling ribbons, they are a great ice breaker.  What’s a blogger bling ribbon?  They are ribbons that stick on to your name badge.  Some are just silly, some identify you, some show a bit of personality.

See you soon!

If you are a registred attendee of the WBC and you are on Facebook, please join this group. Unofficial WBC 2012 Facebook Group

And, LIKE the official page HERE  Official Wine BLoggers Conference Page

Ogopogo and other fish tales from the north

When I first found out that the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference would be in the Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia, I, like many fellow bloggers, was somewhat dubious.  Canada?  Passports?  No transport of wine?  What the heck?

Little would I know that many months later, I would fall in love with this isolated region east of Vancouver.  When flying in to the Okanagan Valley from Calgary, as I did, you get a bird’s eye view of the long, thin lake and the mountains that surround it.  It reminds me a lot of Lake Tahoe, except that is a glacial valley and not a caldera as Tahoe is.

It’s here that the requisite lake monster, Ogopogo calls home.  You know the type – looks like a dinosaur, swims around, might be friendly, might eat small children.  Every large inland body of water has one:  Lake Tahoe has Tahoe Tessie; Lake Champlain has Champ, and of course – Loch Ness has Nessie.   These Darwinian mysteries swim the depths of these lakes and draw tourists to the souvenir stands.  But…I wonder if Ogopogo likes wine?
The wine region is located in a narrow glacial lake valley, with Okanagan Lake to the north, and the much smaller Skaha Lake to the south.  There are actually several lakes dotting the region to the south, with the Okanagan River connecting them.  Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake were at one point a continuous body of water after the glaciers melted, but now, the town of Penticton  separates the two on a narrow strip of land.

It is there in Penticton, and the base of Okanagan Lake that the wine bloggers will gather in June of 2013.  A small beach resort town, it’s cleverly walkable, with the lakeshore next to our host hotel (and casino…which I expect will have an interesting impact on the bloggers!), and wineries within a short drive.

This steep sided valley is very reminiscent of the Rhine in Germany.  Historically fruit orchard territory, it is increasingly becoming the Napa Valley of the north.  The first known wine was produced in the Okanagan in the mid 1800s for the mission, which of course required Sacramental Wine.  However, much like the U.S., Prohibition wiped out the early vinous settlers, and the area turned the focus back to fruit production.  Once Prohibition was repealed, there was a booming fruit wine industry, but traditional wines were not produced here again in earnest until the 1970s.

At that time, the first vinifera grapes were planted, focusing on the aromatic whites of Europe, such as Riesling, Ehrenfelser and Scheurebe which were well suited to the northern climate.  In the late 70s and early 80s, more and more wineries popped up.  The region has seen a massive growth in the last 20 years and has changed from a fledgling area with experimental still wines, to one of elegance and unique terroir.

 The Okanagan started to gain more attention int he early 1990s when winemakers and consultants from around the world were courted to produce in the region.  This draw resulted in cross border penetration, with Old World winemakers from France and Germany mingling with New World rebels from Napa and Chile.  In fact, the Agricultural Research Station in the area is second only to Davis in it’s reputation.  Many post doctoral candidates are working here on fruit and grape research, and have come up through the Davis ranks to graduate to the new frontier of the Okanagan.  The region is still young, but really took off when one of the larger wineries, Mission Hill, entered wine in an International competition and several of them medaled.  Today, there are over 120 wineries producing premium wines.

From our home base in Kelowna, the largest town, sitting on the eastern edge of Okanagan Lake, we explored the history of the region as orchard lands, as well as a summer lake resort.  While it is still a summer resort destination, the growth of the wine industry has made it a year round place to explore, with ski hills, swimming beaches, great food, and interesting wines.
Our first stop, Dirty Laundry Vineyards, was like visiting Vegas, if there were vinyards, old washing machines, and a stunning view.  Intrigued?  Stay tuned!

WBC here I come!

It’s less than 2 weeks before the annual Wine Bloggers Conference, and I’m finally getting a little jazzed with it.  life has been busy these days, with my day job, the WBC Scholarship, and, well, STUFF but I’m looking forward to a few days off spent with my 300 closest friends in the sweaty summer weather in Virginia. As a 4 year veteran, some things that I’ve learned on the road to blogging:

  • Get to know your sponsors.  We have a few hours on Friday to learn who has made the event possible; stop by and say hi!  You never know what relationships might form.
  • Attend the keynotes with Jancis Robinson and Eric Asimov.  These sessions are great kick starters and will get you in to the groove.
  • Go with the flow, don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Be prepared to want to do more than one thing at once
  • have FUN!
  • Don’t be overly structured
  • Spit spit spit.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Yes, there are moments (dinner, after hours parties) where I don’t spit and enjoy myself, but you are representing bloggers as a whole, and should have some decorum.  It’s a business conference at the core, disguised as a party.  Present yourself accordingly.
  • Don’t forget to sleep!
  • Engage in the “Anti-Conference” spontaneous events; these are the best way to network with your fellow bloggers, writers, and industry professionals.
  • Participate in the Unconference sessions.  These informal discussion panels let you get involved.
  • Have an open mind.  You never know if there are wines you wouldn’t normally try, that you will love!
  • Bring something from home that represents your region, style, and / or personality.  This could be wine, but it could also be food, a book, or a t-shirt.
  • Bring business cards.  yes it may seem archaic, but it’s the best way to quickly introduce yourself with a memorable item.  The stacks of cards collected are reminders when we get home to follow, tweet, and read otehr peoples information.
  • Follow the #wbc11 twitter stream.  Make sure you are not protected (my main account is, but I tweet under @luscious_lushes for public consumption).  We want to hear your thoughts!
  • Find time to post a few quick blog posts with your thoughts BEFORE, DRUING, and AFTER the conference.  First impressions are great conversation starters.
  • Spend some time on Friday morning meeting the sponsors.  They are the reason we are all able to attend this event, and they want to know the bloggers are much as we want to know them.
  • Participate, however briefly in the after hours events such as the Other 46 Tasting and the International Wine Night.  While there will undoubtedly be parties at the time time, it’s a great way to get to know other people.
  • Find a party to attend!  This is a great way to get ot know people on a personal level.  Sponsors, wineries, and bloggers all host formal and informal parties during the event.
  • Attend the break outs.  Too many people don’t attend the core of the conference and they miss out.  While You Need to choose which bits are important to you as a blogger, just to pull the meat out.
  • am Content
Here’s what I thnk I”ll be doing: 

  • Keynotes, of course
  • Breakout 1 – Online Technologies and Wine. I am really looking forward to hearing more about current online technologies and how they relate to blogging and the wine world.  Hey, I work in IT.  Once a geek, always a geek.  This stuff fascinates me.
  • Live Wine Blogging: Red and White – Also known as Speed Tasting, Speed DSating, or Insanity, I get a kick of out fast first impression tastes and the twitter storm that occurs.  you can tweet or blog, or take notes to blog later.  I suggest tweeting, as it’s the fastest way to keep up with the tasting.
  • The Other 46 Tasting – I’m the first to admit, I’m a snob when it comes to wines being made in other states.  But, in keeping with my belief that you need to go with an open mind, I’ll show up to taste wines from Texas, Indiana, and other states (spit cup in hand).  Who knows!  I might find something I like!
  • Saturday Morning Wine Country Visit – one of the core events of every WBC is visiting a local winery or two and learning about the local wine culture.
  • Vibrant Rioja After Hours Party – I like Rioja, and what’s NOT to like about a wine and food crawl?
  • Unconference Blogger-Led Discussions – This was one of my favorite events at the first WBC, and I’m pleased to see it has finally made it back.  Part of the inspiration for me, is hearing what other bloggers think on topics.  This format allows us all to have a structured but informal conversation on topics we all want to hear about.
  • Ignite Wine! – Five minute mini presentations on all sorts of topics.  How much can YOU distill in 5 minutes?
As you can see, there are some sessions not on my personal agenda. It’s not that I don’t find them valuable, it’s just that I don’t think I will be personally interested in them.  In leaving them off my “must do” list, I create some free flow, where I can catch up with my blogger friends, experience some of the local restaurants, write some posts, join an off the grid get together, or just chill.
I will see you in 10 days and can’t wait to report this year’s news!

The Road to WBC!

Wine Blogger's Conference 2010 - Walla Walla, WA

So, as you know, we here at the WBC Scholarship are all about getting a diverse group of bloggers together in Walla Walla to have some great wine, learn a few things, and have a great time.  As you may have read, before & after the official conference, there are excursions to the Yakima Valley and Red Mountain regions.  In addition, several of us are going to Portland for some pre-WBC tasting and fun.

I’d also like to mention that the good folks over at WineCHATr are holding a contest for out of state (non-Washington) bloggers, for a 3 day road trip through wine country.  The WBC-or-Bust campaign is hosting 12 bloggers from Seattle to Walla Walla, and they taste wine, explore the wine regions of Washington, and get to know each other for 2 days before the Wine Bloggers Conference.

The road trip begins on June 23rd in Seattle, where you will be picked up downtown and taken out to Woodinville for an afternoon of wine tasting!  The itinerary is:

  • Food & Wine Pairing at Ste. Michelle
  • Woodinville Grand Tasting at Willows Lodge
  • Lunch at Barking Frog.
  • Palate Refresher at Pike Brewery
  • Ending up at the downtown Renaissance Seattle Hotel
  • A grand Winemaker dinner will close out Day 1

Day 2 you will be carousing through Red Mountain and Yakima, to visit some premier growing areas and wineries.  More information will be available shortly on that day, and you will end up in Walla Walla at the Marcus Whitman for the kick-off to the WBC!

In order to qualify for the “WBC-or-BUST” campaign wine bloggers need only signup on, add a contest badge to their website, and then blog about Washington wine. At the conclusion of the campaign 12 bloggers will win a seat on the all expenses paid road trip headed to Walla Walla and the 2010 WBC.

The contest ends in April 2010 and a total of 12 bloggers will be chosen on the following basis.  Two winners will be chosen for posting the most Washington wine related blog entries (minimum of 150 words required for each post). Six additional winners will be chosen for the best category based posting:

  • Top 2 Best Washington winery posts
  • Top 2 Best Washington wine or tasting note posts
  • Best Washington growing region post
  • Best Washington vineyard post

For all the details on how to enter, head on over to WBC or Bust for the complete rules and instructions.

Special thanks to WineChatr and WBC or Bust for their support of the WBC and the WBC Scholarship!  Creative ideas like this are always welcome, and the unique experience for out of state bloggers is guaranteed to delight.  plus, it’s easier and cheaper to fly to Seattle, so enter and good luck!

It’s Bloggership Time!

Happy New Year!  Boy am I glad 2009 is over.  While there were some fabulous times last year, the last few months were pretty wretched for me.  Today is 1/02/2010 however, and as a palindrome, I’m thinking it’s good luck.

To kick this year off with a bang, I’m here to announce the 2010 Wine Bloggers Scholarship applications and donations are open!  This year, we are headed to Walla Walla in June to talk about wine, blogging and social media.  As with the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, this 3 day symposium brings together professionals, bloggers, winemakers and more to discuss the impact of industry and citizens bloggers, social media, and the adult beverage industry.

We will spend 3 days in Walla Walla drinking great wine, learning the basics of wine blogging, blogging live while tasting, touring the Walla Walla wine scene, and also doing a whole lot of networking.  After the 2009 Conference in Sonoma, many connections were made, many bloggers blossomed, and several people got some killer careers going in wine.  What could YOU accomplish?

In an effort to support bloggers that wish to attend to learn more, perfect their craft, or see what it’s all about, the WBC Scholarship sets out to raise funds to assist citizen bloggers (those unaffiliated with a  winery or other professional organization) get to Walla Walla and participate in the event of the decade.  Ok well the first year of the decade anyway.

To find out more about the WBC Scholarship, please visit our site at  If you’re a citizen blogger and would like to apply for assistance, please see the Application page.

If you would like to donate, or you know someone who would be a good resource, you may do so directly at our Paypal page here:

If you prefer to send a check, or if you have any questions, please email us for details at wbcscholarship at gmail dot com.


**SPECIAL BULLITAN** WBC has been announced!


We interrupt the blog to announce that the 2nd Annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Sonoma and Napa, July 24th – July 26th.  I don’t envy the event planners because I know they made every effort not to conflict with other events.  I will miss some of my friends, but hopefully we can find that sweet spot where everyone can come!

This year, we are back at The Flamingo in Santa Rosa, which is a Grande Dame out of the Rat Pack Days.  Yes, while the outside seems a bit, well, WORN, the rooms are newly done and it’s got good space and a great pool.

Don’t forget to register early, as there are only 250 slots left!

Details can be found HERE

Agenda details:

Friday, July 24
12:00 noon Registration and Sponsor Lunch
2:00 PM Welcome and Conference Overview
2:30 PM Live Wine Blogging
4:00 PM Breakout Sessions
5:00 PM Breakout Sessions
6:30 PM Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines
8:00 PM Pool Party Barbecue

Saturday, July 25
7:00 AM Breakfast on your own
9:00 AM Depart for Napa Valley
10:00 AM Breakout Sessions
11:00 AM Breakout Sessions
12:00 noon Depart for Napa Rocks at participating wineries
7:00 PM Dinner in the Vineyards at participating Napa wineries
8:45 PM Buses return to the Flamingo
9:45 PM Informal tasting of participants’ wines

Sunday, July 26
7:00 AM Breakfast on your own
9:30 AM Breakout Sessions and Industry Discussions
11:30 AM Luxe Sonoma Tasting
12:30 PM Casual lunch
1:00 PM Conference Ends

1:oopm on – if you are still around, I’m sure there will be blogger tasting, parties, and other fun stuff!

If you want to see what I thought of last year, check out these posts: