Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wine Blogger Conference : Here I Come!

A little over a year ago I decided to embark on the 2-year WSET Diploma journey. Classes started in July of 2015 and I have never turned back. I also made the bold decision to start a wine blog. Writing for the public takes some balls. What do you have to say? Can you make it interesting? Do other people give a shit?  If you can answer these questions affirmatively, then hey, write away.

Within one month I started the Diploma course, launched a blog, and attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Finger Lakes, NY.   I can wholeheartedly say that WBC15 was one of the most exhilarating and exciting experiences I've ever had. It was an incredibly packed schedule filled with panels, discussions, tastings, networking, etc. Sounds boring and uninspiring as hell, right? But this... THIS was an experience. Everyone was PASSIONATE about wine and about what they had to say about wine. I was brushing elbows with stay at home moms who started their blog for fun, professional bloggers who work in the wine industry, and Masters of Wine (MW).  I left the conference inspired and energetic.  It was there that I realized I had a voice and that I wanted to use it. My blog was (and still is) a work in progress. Sometimes I struggle with: what do I want to convey here? Who is my audience? Etc.

As we speak, I am driving up to Lodi for my second Wine Bloggers Conference and I couldn’t be more excited. It is going to be a whirlwind and a half! Fun things on the agenda include: a sunrise harvest(!), an interview of a fellow blogger (Amanda Barnes of Around the World in 80 Harvests), and an interview for a fellow blogger (Heather Lipp of 10K Bottles).  Movin’ on up!

Below is the full itinerary for the sessions I am attending. 

The SOMMspirations blog will be dark during WBC16 and another week or so after as I gather my thoughts, notes, sanity(!), etc.

The Wednesday and early Thoursday activities are part of a pre-excursion I signed up for.  The trip is in Lodi as well and the theme is: Experimental Wines & Old Vines.

Wednesday August 10

3:45pm Vineyard walk and tasting of Rhone white grape varieties and Rose with Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards proprietor/winemaker Susan Tipton

5pm Lizzy James Vineyard walk with Harney Lane Winery owner/winegrower Kyle Lerner and winemaker Chad Joseph

5:30pm Tasting of Harney Lane Winery wines followed by Lodi wine country dinner

Thursday August 11

6:15am Sunrise grape picking and field sorting (location TBD)

7:15am Farm laborers’ breakfast beneath the vines

8:30am Mokelumne Glen Vineyard walk and field tasting of German/Austrian varietals with the Koth family (owner/winegrowers) and Markus Niggli, winemaker, Markus Wine Co

10am Bokisch Ranches’ Las Cerezas Vineyard; Introduction to Spanish grape growing with Bokisch Ranches’ owner/winegrower Markus Bokisch

11am Terra Alta Vineyard walk and tasting of Bokisch Vineyards’ Spanish varietals with owner/winegrower Markus Bokisch and winemaker Elyse Perry

Noon Lunch under the giant oak in Terra Alta Vineyard

1:15pm Abba Vineyard walk and field tasting of Grenache/Syrah with owner/winegrower Phil Abba and winegrower/winemaker Michael McCay, McCay Cellars

2:15pm Rous Vineyard walk and shaded tasting of ancient vine Zinfandel with owner/winegrower Craig Rous and multi-winemaker/vineyard Zinfandel tasting with Ironstone Vineyards’ Steve Millier, Macchia Wines’ Tim Holdener, and Mike McCay of McCay Cellars

6pm Interview with Heather Lipp of the 10K Bottles blog

6pm-8:30pm Registration and Lodi Opening Reception at Mohr Fry Ranch featuring a casual walk-around tasting of a careful selection of Lodi’s premium vineyard-designate wines. Live music by Snap Jackson & The Knock on Wood Players and dinner from Paul’s Rustic Oven Pizza.

Friday August 12

9am Opening, Welcome, and Keynote Speaker, Andrea Robinson

9:55am History of Grape Growing and Wine Making in Lodi

11am The Truth About Viticulture. Learn from a panel of experts how every little detail is important to successful grape growing, from weather to planting the right grape variety to harvesting at the proper time

11:55am Lunch and Expo

1:45pm Wine Discovery Session: Zinfandel Blending Workshop (Mike Dashe of Dashe Cellars and Brendon Eliason of Periscope Cellars)

3pm Live Wine Blogging (White & Rose). This is the pre-eminent event at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Winemakers will each have five minutes to pour their wine, present their story, and answer questions from a table of bloggers.  Bloggers will analyze and describe their impressions live via social media or their blogs.

4pm-8:30pm Excursions into Lodi Wine Country. Each excursion will include winery and vineyard visits, tastings, and dinner.

Saturday August 13

9:15am Wine Samples. Learn from both wineries and bloggers the intricate (but sometimes clumsy) dance that involves wineries sending samples to wine bloggers.

10:30am Making Google Love Your Blog. What does Google need to find your blog in 2016?

1pm Wine Discovery Session: Au Natural Alsace (Organic and Biodynamic Wines presented by Wines of Alsace)

2:15pm Panel of Wine Blog Award Winners

3:15pm Live Wine Blogging: Red

4:30pm From Passion to Pro: Getting Paid to Write About Wine. Learn some tricks of the trade, ways to make the jump from personal blogging to paid writing, and stories of the trials and successes of being a wine journalist.

5:30pm Wines of the World. Featuring Wines of Alsace from France and wines from the Consorzio Italia diVini & Sapori from Italy.

7pm Dinner, hosted by Lodi Wine. Dinner by South, Sacramento’s hotspot for contemporary Southern cuisine. This year’s WBC Dinner With Lodi Wine will feature a diverse selection of premium wines from 16 of Lodi’s top winery brands. Winemakers and owners of each winery will play sommelier to two dinner tables each, sharing their wines, their story, and – without doubt – their passion for good times.

9pm Wine Blog Awards Presentation

9:30pm Announcement of 2017 Location and Date

Sunday August 14

9:30am Increase Your Audience and Engagement. From social media groups to television producers, freelancing to working with other media sites, find ways to promote your blog and increase your community engagement.

10:45am Blogger Reports. Hear five-minute reports from your fellow bloggers that describe what they are doing as bloggers in the wine world.

Readers, please let me know if there is anything specific you'd like me to report back about: a particular session, pictures from the excursions into wine country, etc.  Let me know in the comments below and I will do my best to share with you all!

Disclosure: In exchange for a reduced rate to the Wine Bloggers Conference, attendees are required to write at least three blog posts about the conference either before, during or after.

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