If That Ain’t Love Then Tell Me What Is: Takeaways from the 2012 Wine Bloggers’ Conference

For the better part of two weeks, I’ve tried to figure out how to describe the experience The Rib and I had at the 2012 Wine Bloggers’ Conference. So I started hacking away at the keyboard trying to chronicle our time in Portland. The result? A fairly large, somewhat incomprehensible manuscript comprised of stream of consciousness musings about wine, people, monkeys, and the state of the world in general. Instead of subjecting you to that (and myself to editing such gibberish into a single article), I decided to write a synopsis of conference goings-on and some bullet point takeaways from WBC12. For your consideration, here’s the short version:

 

What We Did

Pre-conference excursion to Hood River, OR

A few pictures from beautiful Hood River County, OR

This was maybe my favorite part of the trip. We met some great people (and I like to think made some new friends) and laid eyes on what I’m pretty sure is the most beautiful scenery on the planet. And I’ve been to Cleveland, so I totally know what I’m talking about here.

Pre-conference tasting Thursday evening

We’re here, Portland!

Frenetic. Didn’t actually taste a lot of wine. Met up with a couple of WBC friends from the past. Went to a late dinner with one (he and The Rib got along very well); the other friend totally ditched us. Boo!

Conference start and first keynote

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard and BeenDoonSoLong. That glow is his natural aura, I’m sure!

Randall Grahm is a hoot. And brilliant in a Woody Allen meets Larry David kind of way. And he makes wine. Pretty good wine.

Whites, rosés, and sparklings speed tasting/live blogging

This waterfall looks a bit sparkly and refreshing.

10 wines in 50 minutes, 5 minutes per. Write, blog, tweet, whatever. Frenetic. Man is that fun!

Winery tour

We had a nice visit at Willamette (dammit) Valley Vineyards

“Mystery bus” takes you to a winery. They give you a tour and feed you dinner. We ended up at Willamette Valley Vineyards. Beautiful site, amazing hospitality, and some nice juice. Excellent trip.

Night of many bottles

Glad we were able to introduce some of our fellow bloggers to one of our favorite winery’s juice!

I appreciated the opportunity to taste wines brought by fellow bloggers. Bottles arranged on tables around the room with name and twitter handle. A bit frenetic, but fun. We tasted a little wine. And introduced people to Fielding Hills wines.

Unofficial after parties/tastings

Went to several of these. Ended up back in the room around 4 a.m. Saturday morning wearing a tiara that I was not wearing when I left the room the night before. Good times.

Conference breakout sessions

This is just a pretty picture.

1) Research On Wine Bloggers. An academic study on wine bloggers? Yup. Interesting findings, but I’m more excited to learn the results of the second part of the study, which aims to discover who reads wine blogs and how said readers view said blogs.

2) Social Media. For a guy that’s so social in person, I feel I lack in online social media how-to. Great session.

3) Monetizing Your Blog. Who doesn’t want to make money on something they do anyway? Thought this session would be standing room only. Interesting stuff on SEO. And we learned the key to monetizing a blog is writing a book. So do that… Write a book! Go! Or you could purchase a gen-u-wine CorkEnvy T-shirt. Just sayin’…

Second keynote speaker in the Q & A style

Rex Pickett and Alana “Girl With A Glass” Gentry discussing wine and other stuff

Rex Pickett is also a hoot, but in a whole other way than Randall Grahm. And he’s written a couple of popular books. And made a movie. And a play. Good thing we were in a large room…

Reds speed tasting/live blogging

Gratuitous picture of me. I’m pretty!

Same as above, but with red wines. 6 of the 10 were Pinot, I believe. Mmm, Pinot!

Awards dinner

Congratulations, Wine Julia!

King Estate Winery descended on the Doubletree to make us dinner and pair their wines with it. Nice little meal. Highlight was the chicken sausage, butchered and made on-premise at King Estate. Lots o’ inappropriate sausage and beef references (at least at our table); frankly, those comments offended my delicate sensibilities. And made me laugh.

Q & A with award winners

“We are having dinner after the awards presentation and having a great time with great friends!”

Oops. Missed that one. No disrespect intended. It was early.

Ignite wine!

Tom Natan of First Vine and Dano Qualls of Wine Rising present during Ignite Wine!

Very cool. Two of our friends presented, which made this all the better. Fun to be a part of 5 minute presentations that while studiously prepared, come off as organic and interactive.

Conference wrap-up and preview of WBC13

This is not a picture of someplace in British Columbia. I’ve never been there (but I cant wait to go next year for WBC13!). This is from Hood River, OR.

The people of Penticton (and British Columbia in general) seem super nice and are very excited to have 350+ wine bloggers descend on their homeland next June. Careful what you wish for…

Languedoc luncheon

This is not from Languedoc. I haven’t been there, either. Someday, though…

Food, wine, and a chance to chat with friends new and old. Nice, laid back end to official conference content, especially given the (sometimes) frenetic pace of the conference itself.

 

What I Took Away From Portland

  1. A case of wine.
  2. While we tasted several wines, this conference was more about people for me.
  3. Dundee ain’t just a crocodile from Australia.
  4. Wine is the thing that brought us together, but the point was that we were together.
  5. It’s a small world. I met people from places I know (and love) and even met Aphrodite’s neighbor!
  6. People make wine. Some people do it because they love it. Others do it merely for the work. Most at least start out loving it.
  7. Wine bloggers are a self-selecting—yet diverse—group.
  8. Sometimes, when you meet people you have looked forward to meeting or seeing, you’re at least as impressed as you hoped you’d be. Maybe even more so.
  9. Sometimes, people you look forward to meeting or seeing are disappointing in a pompous ass kind of way.
  10. I look fabulous in a tiara!
  11. Sometimes you share a Scotch with a new acquaintance and it’s cool.
  12. The Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful area of the country.
  13. I am amazed by how much I actually know about wine and the wine world—from vineyard to store shelf. That said, I really know nothing and can always learn something new about wine from others, regardless of their experience.
  14. Wine is the ultimate social lubricant and most romantic beverage ever.
  15. Craft beers of the Pacific Northwest are good.
  16. Pacing is important.
  17. Always test the battery in your condenser microphone before filming.
  18. Despite what may end up being a rocky start, my independent film career will be legendary.
  19. In my next life, I hope to stumble upon a job as a winemaker by the time I’m 23. Based on meeting winemakers from the region, this is totally possible. And likely. And I will make great wine, despite my relative youth.
  20. The people that show up get to do the cool stuff.
  21. I should work on not being such a wallflower.
  22. There’s a decent chance that KLG and Hoda will soon learn how much I heart them.
  23. And finally…

You can be serious about wine without taking yourself too seriously.

 

Cheers from the Corkpit,

Stub

P.S.- The Rib will be posting her perspective on her very first Wine Bloggers’ Conference in the next few days. I will also be releasing a short film about our adventures post-WBC12 soon. Very soon. Here’s a sneak peek.