Wine Bloggers’ Conference or ‘Whine’ Bloggers’ Conference? A Little of Both, But Room for All

A couple of days removed from the 2011 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to recap my experience(s).  This is the first of three pieces I plan to write on WBC 11 (the second will be a quick hit on the adventures of “Mystery Wine Bus 5;” those who stick with my WBC 11 trilogy will be in for a [hopefully] special treat).

I’ve read a few summaries written by my fellow wine blogger attendees, most notably the one penned by Richard Jennings that has received mixed reactions from those in attendance.  I am admittedly using his comments as a jumping-off point.  I won’t criticize his musings on the weekend, since his experience was his own.  I have read several of his pieces and briefly met him at one of the events at the conference; he appears to be both committed to and knowledgeable of the wine world, so I accept his summary of the conference experience—particularly as a first-timer—as a sincere, informed, but subjective assessment (although no more or less so than those of any other attendee), despite being somewhat negative.

As a first-time attendee myself, I share some of RJ’s frustration with the “cliquishness” and lack of time to interact with others.  He also makes a great point about scheduling; the tight timeline between events made it difficult to transition between sessions and, at times, resembled cattle herding (particularly when boarding busses for off-site excursions).  The pacing of the event limited the opportunity (especially for newbies) to meet and mingle with others, although I’ll humbly admit some personal responsibility for my own disappointments in that regard.  While I’m far from a shrinking violet, as 1) a newer wine blogger, and 2) a first-time conference attendee, the environment could—at times—be a bit intimidating.  That said, I formally met several people at Thursday night’s tasting—one of whom I went to dinner with that night, and a few more that I was able to at least briefly speak with and/or acknowledge throughout the weekend.

I will say that the Saturday “Mystery Wine Bus” tour brought the opportunity to not only meet, but get to know, a couple of great twosomes from other blogs and to speak with several others.  I was rewarded for this time, as I got to enjoy Saturday’s live blogging and dinner with them, as well as spend some quality time during after-hours activities.  Saturday evening’s “extracurricular” activities provided the opportunity to meet several other people, one of whom was not only (surprisingly) familiar with, but complimentary of, my work.  I certainly didn’t mind the ego boost I got from that chance meeting.

My overall impression of the Wine Blogger’s Conference was positive, despite a few “hiccups” (I wasn’t thrilled with dinner service on Saturday evening, but I have a feeling that may have been table-dependent; the heat was oppressive, but I’m sure conference fees would jump sharply if event planners rented out the fabled ‘UN Weather Machine’ for the weekend; and the above mentioned scheduling issues, to be specific).  I was hoping for more substantive content than I feel we were given, particularly in the breakout sessions.  That said, the Wine Bloggers’ Conference (at least to me) seems more about the relationship-building Jancis Robinson spoke to during her keynote than the available content.  I left Charlottesville Sunday afternoon having made a fairly strong connection with several people and met several others that I had only previously ‘followed’ or interacted with in the ‘virtual’ wine world.  There are dozens of people that were in attendance that I would liked to have met, but time, scope, and chance made that a difficult task.  Once again, I will take responsibility for that failure, as a tweet or email probably would have been enough to prompt a meeting with those that I didn’t run into by chance.  In the end, the conference ended up (for me at least) being what I made of it.

So what do I ultimately take away from my first Wine Bloggers’ Conference?  Time will tell if the connections I made will be beneficial—whether in the blogosphere, professionally, personally, or otherwise.  I do know, however, that I am enthusiastically looking forward to next year’s conference and see it as an opportunity to strengthen the connections I made last weekend and make some new ones as well.  And I’ll probably taste a lot of wine, but as The Rib likes to say, “the worst day of tasting wine beats even the best day working in an office!”

Cheers from the Corkpit,


  10 comments for “Wine Bloggers’ Conference or ‘Whine’ Bloggers’ Conference? A Little of Both, But Room for All

  1. July 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Dude, I’m still pulling myself out from under your bus.

    • Stub
      July 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      Not even. That gag backfired on ME! Cheers!

  2. July 27, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Glad to have been one of the folks with whom you did interact personally at the conference; it was a pleasure meeting you. I completely agree with you on the main purpose of the conference being face-to-face relationship building, not content per-se (though I also appreciate the chance to taste wines I can’t otherwise access.) Having attended WBC2010 in Walla Walla last year, I didn’t even think about content with respect to my attending this year. I suppose that’s a major reason why the conference planners don’t focus on content — and I’d absolutely love to see more useful information presented — but the people and the wine were the point.

    That said, I hope I’ll see you next year in Portland.

    Oh, and just a note that the service at my table on Saturday night was also dreadful, and I was sitting at the table with the mayor and the chairman of the VA wine board. Twelve wines and five courses for that many people and with that much else going on? Errrr….hardly.

    • Stub
      July 27, 2011 at 11:19 am


      It was a pleasure meeting you, too! I hope my piece didn’t come off as whiny, since I really did have a great time, learned a few new things, tasted some wines I hadn’t before, and met some wonderfully interesting people—all in all, not the worst way to spend a weekend.

      I am absolutely planning to be in Portland next year (and hopefully filling the void in my life of having not yet toured West Coast wine regions before/after the conference). As a “great American hero” once said, “knowing is half the battle;” being that WBC12 will be my second conference, I will 1) Arrive knowing it will be a reunion, of sorts; and as importantly, 2) Be more prepared before I board the plane for the Left Coast. See you in Portland!


  3. Tom
    July 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Hi Stub, it was great to meet you at WBC. I agree with your point that we could all have done a little more homework before the conference. But it could have been made easier. I have suggested to Zephyr that next year the registration include a list of questions to help categorize each blog, then we’d be able to search the registrants for blog by content and get to read a few more of them than we would by skimming a list of 300+.

    I agree that the winery tours were the best way to meet people, since we spent 6 hours together. I really enjoyed them.

    • Stub
      July 27, 2011 at 11:24 am


      It was great to meet you, too. I’m glad we got to spend a little time chatting about wine and getting to know each other a bit. I agree that some level of “categorization” of blogs on the list of attendees would be very helpful—for veterans and first-timers alike. The tours were great, even for a “local” like me; I had tasted wines from two of the three wineries that poured for us, but had never visited. Also, thanks again for pouring a few of your wines for us! Look forward to meeting up soon!


  4. July 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I could have talked to more people too, but I feel like I did what I could. I accomplished my mission of checking out a new place and meeting new people.


    • Stub
      July 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm


      Thanks for the comment. I’m with you- I accomplished my mission, too. While my few frustrations were/are legitimate, they didn’t even come close to outweighing the positives. I’m more than glad I attended and am already looking forward to heading out west for next year’s conference.


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