The 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference is in full swing in Santa Rosa – our BIG city here in Sonoma County. Over 175 bloggers from around the country have gathered for a weekend of wine, conferences, wine, breakouts, wine, meals, wine, friendly competition, wine, live blogging, wine, presentatons, meet & greets, wine, a keynote…. and did I mention there is a lot of wine here?
We started off with a ride out to Kick Ranch, grower for a number of notable boutique wines. I got to meet up with some of my favorite bloggers. That is a very interesting dynamic here. Most of us only know each other in cyberspace. We follow each others blogs, we read each others reviews, we are Facebook friends, and we follow each other on Twitter. Now we meet at the top of a vine-covered hill in Sonoma County and read name-tags as we squint at faces to see if someone might resemble their avatar or profile picture. Then we embrace like old friends. Pretty cool. I will post more on Kick Ranch in the future.
Then we returned to the fabulous Flamingo Resort to get started with the meat of the conference. Joel Vincent, our fearless leader got the conference rolling. Joel is an amazing man. He took a community of disparate individuals that shared a common passion and enabled us to create a community that we call the Open Wine Consortium. He holds it all together and pushed us forward.
For me, the main event was the Wine Blogging Live – speed dating – wine tasting event. There were 16 tables of bloggers all plugged-in and hooked-up. Winemakers came around to each table and had five minutes to taste us on the wines and to talk us up as we blogged, Twittered, recorded, or scribed about the wines. Pretty wild ride! I chose to review the wines on Twitter. If you follow me as Oenophilus or subscribe to my OenoTweets feed, you can click on that name and get the reviews. I think most of the bloggers were with me and loved this event.
We finished this and went on to the Blind Tasting Competition sponsored by the Culinary Institute of America. Tracy Dutton – Head Wino at Greystone, CIA’s Napa Valley campus – led the comparative, multi-leveled tasting. I got bumped out in the very first round. In my defense, I think my two samples got mixed up. No! Really! Hard to pick Gewurtz and Viognier out of the air and just label the samples opposite! Anyways, the eventual victor was Doug Cook of Able Grape. This was well deserved as he is one of the most amazing wine gurus I have met. By the way, If you don’t have Able Grape on your toolbar or bookmarked or widgeted on your own blog/site…get busy. When it comes to wine, “Google” is no longer a verb; AbleGrape is the word!
We then retired to the next series of tastings! Yes. More wine. The Winegrowers of Dry Creek plied us with some gorgeous wines from that celebrated Sonoma County appellation in their cute hospitality suite by the pool.