North American Wine Bloggers Conference

Proud to be a Virginia Wine Lover: 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference Highlights

Last weekend I was extremely proud to see my home state of Virginia roll out the red carpet as host of the fourth annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia (also home of my alma mater University of Virginia). The three-day event brought together wine bloggers and wine industry leaders giving them the opportunity to see there’s lots of wine to love in Virginia, the fifth largest wine producing state in the U.S. with over 193 wineries.

This was my first year attending the conference and I had some great experiences. My highlights from the 2011 Conference…

* The Wine

As you can imagine the wine was plentiful! Over the three days, I sampled 126 wines, at least that’s how many I captured in my notes.

My favorite wineries continued to be my favorite…Blenheim Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, Virginia Wineworks and King Family Vineyards in Virginia and King Estate Winery in Oregon. It was great to see others enjoying them as well!

I also discovered some new favorite wines…

* The People

Mixing and mingling, networking… there was plenty of it from morning until late into the night! It was very cool to hear from and meet wine speakers/authors I regularly read like Jancis Robinson (even got her to sign my World Atlas of Wine), Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Dave McIntyre of The Washington Post. They shared insights and tips for those of us in the wine writing/blogging world.

It was also cool to meet and/or reconnect with people that work with or make some of my favorite wines…

  • Kirsty Harmon, the super cool, knowledgable Winemaker and General Manager of Blenheim Vineyards,
  • Luca Paschina, the famous Italian Winemaker from Barboursville Vineyards,
  • @Kobrand_Wine, @aburich, @fermented, @RachelTaylor Chi, @NewHorizonWines, @gwendolwine, @camilaxavier, @TheGoodWineGuru, @epicureanways, @ReverseWineSnob, @1WineDude, @DrinkWhatULike, @WCWineGuy, @winecompass, @OddBacchus, @suburbanwino, @vitisdivine, @GregoryDalPiaz, @Diane_Letulle, @Tabarrini, @WinebowWine, @WineHarlots, @VaWineInMyPkt, @Stevenraye, @mariepayton, @SwirlGirls, @palatepress, @WinesofCroatia, @melanie0, @krischislett (used their twitter handle so you can check them out),
  • and I was THRILLED to meet Gabriele Rausse, Father of Modern Virginia, and drink his wine with him!

* Into Wine Country

Charlottesville is the center of the Monticello Wine Trail, one of 22 in the state, and the Monticello appellation. It is here that it all started for Virginia wine with Thomas Jefferson planting his first grapes in 1807 at Monticello. So it was only appropriate that Friday evening’s Virginia Wine Reception was held at Monticello. We sampled wine from 32 Virginia wineries on Jefferson’s lawn (he even made an appearance 😉 ) and checked out his newly reconstructed wine cellar. (We also did a lot of sweating in the 100+ degree heat.)

On Saturday morning, attendees boarded numbered buses not knowing their destinations to visit one to three wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. I got on Bus 3 … the BEST…with a great group of people AND the chance to visit two of my favorite wineries, Virginia Wineworks/ Michale Shaps and Bleinheim Vineyards, who gave us the royal treatment, and a new discovery in First Colony Vineyards.

* Aromas of Wine

In this interactive session we learned ways to sniff out the differences in wines from different regions through a blind tasting of Winebow Wines. Sheri Sauter Morano MW talked to us about how our sense of smell is much more acute than our sense of taste and in wine there are thousands of scents to uncover. I’ll write a full post on this cool session.

* Live Wine Blogging

This was a first for me. It’s like speed dating…you stay at one table for one hour and 12 wineries come by your table for five minutes each to tell you about their wine. It was a lot of fun. Check out my posts on the two sessions… Live Wine Blogging on Reds…it’s like speed dating! and Live Wine Blogging on Whites & Rosés…ready, set, go!

A BIG thank you to organizer Zephyr Adventures and premier sponsors Virginia Wine Marketing Office, Virginia Tourism Corporation and Charlottesville/Albemarle County Convention & Visitors Bureau. And thank you to my sponsor Snooth, a revolutionary web-based social wine shopping experience, who held a Wine Itinerary Writing Contest for conference attendees that I won!

In upcoming posts I’ll share more on my favorite wines, wineries, our wine country tour and the Aromas of Wine seminar.

Cheers to Virginia!

Live Wine Blogging on Reds…it’s like speed dating!

Saturday I participated in my second hour of ‘live wine blogging’ as part of the fourth annual North America Wine Bloggers Conference. After Friday’s round one on whites/rosés, my first ever live blogging, I was ready for round two!

It’s like speed dating…you stay at one table and 12 wineries come by your table for five minutes each to tell you about their wine. This time I was ready with my laptop so I was able to tweet about all the wines (vs. my first day where I was doing it from my iPhone). Here’s what I tweeted…

  • @keswickvineyard fabulous #vawine ’07 Cabernet Sauvignon great fruit nose and taste, developing great! ’09 Gov Cup Winner. Thx Stephen!
  • @lovingstonwine ’06 Pinotage south african grape growing in VA yum! #wbc11
  • #wbc11 2004 Montefalco Sagrantino fr Umbria … LOVE Giampaulo’s wine @TABARRINI
  • @Williamsburgwin elegant Cab Franc ‘elegant balanced stunning long legs robust perfume’ as described by Matthew the winemaker #wbc11
  • @KingEstate YAY my fav OR winery is back at my table w/ their ‘light clean style’ 2008 Domaine Pinot Noir #WBC11
  • @CornerstoneNapa 2007 Cab Sauvignon from Howell Mtn nice smokey sweet wine grown in volcanic ash #wbc11
  • @calnaturale cab sauv, tetrapak 1/3 more wine vs bottle & half carbon foot print, $12.99, perfect on the go, also in chard #wbc11
  • another on the go wine…makers of Clif bars now have Clif Family Winery, The Climber…CA Cab Sauvignon #wbc11 @clifwine
  • Banfi Centine 2008 Toscana @CastelloBanfi great red Italian, perfect pairing for your Italian dinner at great price pt $12 #WBC11
  • @MfVvinotweets Mountfair is all about red wines…does quarterly release of a blend…2009 Engagement Monticello Red Wine #wbc11

My favorites of the session? Virginia’s Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon; Umbria, Italy’s Tabarrini Montefalco Sagrantino; Oregon’s King Estate 2008 Domaine Pinot Noir; and Montalcino, Italy’s Banfi Centine 2008 Toscana.

Survived two fun sessions of live wine blogging. 😉

Live Wine Blogging on Whites & Rosés…ready, set, go!

Friday I participated in my first live wine blogging as part of the Wine Bloggers Conference. One BUSY hour at a table where 12 wineries come one by one for five minutes each to introduce you to one of their wines while you tweet/blog…like speed dating.

Here were my tweets with highlights of the session…

  • #wbc11 first up @cornerstonenapa rosé @CraigCamp beautiful pink forms fr just 2 hrs w/ crust, yummy like my fav Puglian that inspired it!
  • #WBC11 CA Edna Pearl Chardonnay…pretty wine in a pretty bottle!
  • #wbc11 cool on the go packaging fr CalNaturale & Cliff’s The Climber. Good carbon foot print too!
  • One of my fav wineries @KingEstate tasting their Domaine Pinot Gris made fr vineyard’s top grapes #wbc11
  • Lovely @BarrenRidge 2010 Vidal Blanc fr French winemaker Pauline Dubier #wbc11 #vawine
  • @veritaswinery Thank you Emily for an amazing #vawine in your 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve #WBC11

Saturday another speed round focused on Reds.

Cheers! 🙂

Headed to Charlottesville for Wine Bloggers Conference 2011

…and lots of Virginia wine!

Looking forward to meeting 300+ wine bloggers, wineries and industry people! Stay tuned for lots of updates over the next few days!

Special thanks to all of our sponsors and Snooth for being my sponsor!!

Wine Bloggers Unite in Virginia

This time next week I’ll join 300+ wine lovers for the fourth annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia. This three-day event will gather wine bloggers and wine industry leaders to learn and discuss wine in the new media world. There’s a keynote speech from Jancis Robinson (co-author of of one of my favorite wine resources, The World Atlas of Wine), virginia wine reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, tour of local vineyards and live blogging on reds, whites and rosés.

To celebrate and get everyone in the Virginia wine mood, yesterday the Virginia Wine Board hosted the first ever Virginia Viognier Virtual Tasting on Twitter and Facebook showcasing Viriginia’s official grape, Viognier. The tasting included Horton Vineyards NV Sparkling Viognier (comes from the oldest Viognier vines on the East Coast), Blenheim Vineyards 2010 Viognier, King Family Vineyards 2010 Viognier, Barboursville Vineyards & Winery 2009 Viognier Reserve, Cooper Vineyards 2010 Viognier and Delaplane Cellars 2010 Maggie’s Vineyard Viognier.

The Virtual Tasting was just the beginning of what promises to be a fun and educational three days next week in Charlottesville! Very proud of my home state and all the great wine progress being made.

Join me next weekend on my blog and twitter (@GrapeOccasions) as I share tastings and experiences from Charlottesville.

Cheers to Virginia Wine!