Trying like the devil to get back to a normal writing schedule after attending the Wine Bloggers’ Conference but the rude real world keep making demands on my time. I must express deep gratitude to the many sponsors of the event and particularly those who sponsored the scholarships that were given, as I was fortunate enough to be one of the recipients. I can hardly express what a wonderful opportunity it was for me and how much it exceeded any expectations I may have had. I was concerned about sharing a room with a
stranger but now I am certain we will remain the best of friends – shout out to my girl Chandra of Mo Wine!
I met a group of people and made connections and felt taken in by a community, and found myself a home. I was inspired by the keynote speakers. Eric Asimov affirmed for me that bloggers ARE writers. He spoke about our separate and collaborative abilities to be influencers. He told us to be authentic. He told us how he began writing beer reviews while still in high school. Jancis Robinson, a person I have often referred to as one of the “acknowledged experts”, and author of many books published through traditional print channels spoke encouragingly about the future of self-publishing. She admitted to her own addiction to Twitter and feels torn away from working on her website while needing to make a deadline for her next book. I was impressed that she stayed for the entire conference and didn’t wilt (too much) in the heat at Monticello.
We endured three days of record temperatures and no one lost it, or was ornery, or rude. There were no big egos. We were all playing in the same ballpark. I experienced the madness and frenzy that is Live Blogging (picture speed dating with winemakers). I can’t say that the tasting or the blogging was top notch but it was good fun. There was so much to learn during the breakout sessions and the agenda was so tightly packed that you had to skip something if you wanted to freshen up between day and evening events. The camaraderie of the attendees and the quality of the bloggers’ content is astounding. I never once felt like a newbie, fish out of water, or the last kid picked to play dodge ball. I felt like I belonged. The hospitality of Virginians, everywhere we went, was so warm and genuine.
These folks were so proud and pleased for us to see what they have to offer. Visiting the vineyards (yeah bus 4!! – we went to Pippin Hill Farm and Veritas) was a special treat. Thank you to Dean and Lynn Andrew of Pippin Hill for being so warm and gracious, and Chef Amalia Scatena for her delightful pairings. And many thanks to Andrew Hodson and his daughter Emily of Veritas for the special tasting of Reserve 2002 Petit Verdot alongside a barrel tasting of their 2010.
Do the French have any idea how great the Viognier and Cabernet Franc are in Virginia? Perhaps they should pay attention. The Petit Verdot is a delight. While the Norton was tasted, I was surprised no one mentioned The Wild Vine by Todd Kliman. Now I’m curious what they think of it.
Virginia has figured out how to make all of the elements work together – the government supports the wine producers’ efforts – the tourism folks have embraced it and are willing to help promote it – the restaurants and wine shops sell the local product, and their own bloggers shout it from the rooftops (uh…laptops). The bloggers I met from my own region (New England) seemed to all feel like me, that we can do something to make a difference back home. We have some very good wines and a growing industry trying to figure out their niche, their signature wine, their organization. Bloggers can have an effect, and help move things along. We have already started to communicate and discuss organizing ourselves. Collaboration is a beautiful thing. There is no competition for subscribers or followers amongst us because we all have a unique perspective. We all bring something to the table. I will be adding my new friends to my blogroll so please check them out. You will learn so much, as I continue to do, every day, from them. I will continue to discover my true voice here and humbly pass along the bits and pieces I can glean from others. In just a few days’ time I have travelled many miles down the road of my wine journey. Many more posts to follow and people to thank to adequately cover just some of what I learned at the North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference.