Archive for the ‘Wine Bloggers Conference’ Category

Water water everywhere, and lots to drink!

July 20, 2010

It’s day 2 of the Wine Bloggers Conference, and we’re off on the little yellow school buses to explore some of the Walla Walla terroir.  Fortunately for us Bay Area folks,who aren’t used to the heat, it was a warm but pleasant day for walking around the vineyards and our bus was off and ready to go.  Armed with my trusty compatriots Lynnette, Ryan and Ward, we were joined by some new friends and headed off to taste some of Walla Walla’s wines.

Our bus was hosted by Walla Walla’s mayor, and we were off to Watermill Winery’s vineyards in Milton-Freewater.  Juts over the Oregon border, this area was first settled with orchards and vegetable farms.  Now, we were examining the hard packed cobblestone soil, which is the remnant of the alluvial fan.  With 200 feet of packed cobblestone, the soil is well drained suited perfectly for the big reds that we were tasting.  Saviah Cellars was founded in 2000, and Watermill first planted grapes in 2002.  This is a Certified LIVE vineyard, which in Oregon is Low Input Viticulture and Enology – very similar to a sustainable certified vineyard here.  They are only allowed one herbicidal spray a year, and believe that microbiological health of the soil and vineyard is paramount.

The 2007 Watermill Malbec tasted of blueberries and black berries with chewy plums and huckleberries.  There was a hint of smoke and white pepper, and we were told that growing Malbec on the rocky soil was unusual.  The result is a dense intense wine that I really enjoyed.  next we tasted the 2007 Watermill Cab Franc.  Being a girl who loves cab franc, I was a bit skeptical, but this was a lovely plummy red fruit example with spicy smoke.  the rich & smooth wine was a Tansy treat.  we also tasted the 2008 Saviah Cellears Malbec, which was a great companion to the Watermill verison.  This wine comes from the same vineyard, but showed more earth, leather and tobacco, followed by cigar box.

From Watermill, we headed over to Waters for lunch.  More on that in my next post!

I'm gone! To Ore-gon…

July 8, 2010

Being a California girl, while I have spent some time diving up the coast and meandering through Ashland, I have not spent a lot of time in Oregon.  I have spent even less time examining the finer points of Oregon wines, specifically Oregon Pinot.  Those of you who have known my taste buds know that I am a pinotphile and I usually reach for a pinot before any other red wine these days.  As a local to the Northern California, I have access to some amazing wines.  Recently, however, I have had the opportunity to do some in depth exploration of Oregon wines and have fallen in love.  Again.

It all started with a little blogger conference in Walla Walla.  Having the choice to fly in to Seattle or Portland, I chose Portland since I had several friends in the area, and I was dying to meander through Oregon wine country.  Enter my friends at Solena Estate, and a mini WBC blogger tour of Willamette Valley was born. My Oregon wine friends put together a blogger tour of the area that would seek to educate, palate tease,

and giggle our way through the area.

First, let’s just kick off the day by saying that our transportation was not your typical wine country bus.  I knew something was up when Lynnette said “you’ll know your vehicle when you see it”.  Enter Double Decker PDX, a new tour company that (poor chaps) agreed to take thier maiden voyage with us to wine country. Sitting on top of the old London Transport double decker bus, fully outfitted in leather seats, a wine cooler, and Froot Loop Donuts from VooDoo Donuts, we were off to visit the wine country in blogger style.

Our first stop was the new Grand Cru property of Solena Estate Winery.  This property is where the winery was founded, and as we took a tour around, we were treated to a bit of history from Laurent & Danielle Montalieu, the owners of this beautiful property.  Solena was founded in 2000 when Laurent & Danielle purchases the “Wedding Vineyard”, 80 acres of rolling hillside vineyards.  Instead of a gift registry, the couple asked people to buy them pinot noir vines – a novel gift idea, and one I might steal if I ever get married with 80 acres of land on my hands.  The result was 80 pinot noir vines with 6 different clones, and the Estate Vineyard was born.

Down in the barrel room, Laurent had a surprise for us in 6 barrel samples of the 2009 Pinot Noirs, from various vineyards.  Handing each of us our own personal thief (a dangerous proposition if I’ve ever seen one), we were allowed to wander free sampling six wines, with several of them having wood variations.  The barrel tasting experiences isn’t new to most bloggers, however, the ability to taste all six pinot noirs side by side, with a few extra tastings of wood variations, really gave us food for thought and interesting conversation topics.  My personal favorites were the Guadalupe and Hyland Vineyards, but we also tasted the Thistle, Kaltia, and Monks Gate Vineyards.  In the end, I performed some blending experiments and came up with some truely unique and Oregonian examples of Pinot Noir that I would be proud to bottle myself.

Once we had sufficiently mastered the art of using a wine thief, something I personally needed no education in, we went upstairs to the beautiful event space for lunch.  Here, we were treated to four courses, each paired with a Solena wine, with an extra pinot thrown in for good measure.  Yes, I was lucky – I sat across from Danielle, and once the girls get talking…well you know . Wine flows and all that.

First:  Early Summer Corn Soup / 2008 ElvenGalde Chard

The sweet creaminess of the corn and the salty smoke of the pancetta paired beautifully with the crisp minerality of this chard.  For this non chard drinker, I really loved this wine, with tons of citrus and spice.

Second:  Plank-Roasted Wild Salmon / 2007 Domaine Danielle Laurent Pinot Noir (Wedding Vineyard)

This wine shows it’s true colors of cedar, earth, and mushrooms with a backbone of bright red fruit.  No fruit bomb, it’s chewy spice and cloves really went well with the fennel in the salmon.

Third:  Grilled Cascade Flat Iron Steak (or Lentil Loaf, which I’m sorry to say was the wrong choice) / 2008 Hyland Pinot Noir

Has all of the Burgundian charachter that I expect in an Oregon pinot noir.  Perfumed and delicate, it stood up to the meat (that I stole off of Melanie’s plate)

Fourth  Rosemary & Fleur de Sel Shortbread, Oregon Berries, Bellweather Farms Carmony / 2008 Late Harvest Riesling

Dessert!  Need I say more?

The pairings were simply masterful and many of us savoured each pariing wine.  Fortunately, Danielle made sure we were well stocked and that our glasses were never empty, so we were able to top off any wines that were low.  Err, well, at one point that was all of them.  My favorite pairing was the Salmon, which was simply divine, both with the Chard and the Pinot.  Kudos to Chef Matt Howard for really showing us what all the options for Pinot Noir can be – it’s not just for pork and fish!

What I learned was, the Pinot Noirs of the Willamette are varied and nuanced, and when you have a warm year, they closely resemble those wines from the Russian River and Santa Lucia Highlands.  There is more in the Willamette than Pinot NOir, and there are many sub appellations that are very unique within the larger AVA.  Please go givist Oregon and discover for yourself!  Solena welcomed us with a red carpet expereince, and loved that we were all so excited to be there.  While I have tasted some of the wines before, the unique opportunity to taste so many different pinot noirs in one place really inspires me.  Solena has two tasting rooms:  One in the tiny town of Carlton, in the Yamhill-Carlton district, and the new Grand Cru property.  Please make sure you take the time to stop by if you are in the Willamette!

Stay tuned for Bloggerpalooza Part 2:  Soter Winery

Bling for Bloggers!

May 15, 2009

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much recently, something I hope to remedy.  Partially, this is due to be sick, partially because my computer at home broke, and partially because I have been involved in another project.

As I hope you will have heard by now, The Wine Bloggers Conference has been scheduled for July 24-26 in Santa Rosa.  Judging by last years attendance, I expect this to be another blow out year.

That said, the economy BLOWS right now.  People are losing their jobs.  Bloggers aren’t paid (for the most part), so if you’re an unemployed blogger, attending this years conference may be a struggle for you.  This is why a group of bloggers and other Wine 2.0 aficionados came together and started the Wine BloggersConference Scholarship Fund .

The fund is something near and dear to me, and as a committee member, I am shouting about it from the tops of rooftops.  To help us make our goal, I have come up with some Blogger Bling, to help you enhance your WBC name badges.  You are registered right?  Yeah I thought so.  So here’s the deal:

ID Ribbons are for sale for $2 each. After I recoup the costs, the profits go to the WBC Scholarship Fund.  If you’re interested, Tweet me, Email me, send me a smoke signal, but get these while the getting is good!


Trouble Maker Wine Bloggerwine blogger First Time Attendee
Screw it!  More wine!

– A Luscious Lushes Original

Naughty Wine Minx

-By Lisa Adams Walter and The BrixChicks!

minx

**SPECIAL BULLITAN** WBC has been announced!

January 23, 2009

We interrupt the blog to announce that the 2nd Annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Sonoma and Napa, July 24th – July 26th.  I don’t envy the event planners because I know they made every effort not to conflict with other events.  I will miss some of my friends, but hopefully we can find that sweet spot where everyone can come!

This year, we are back at The Flamingo in Santa Rosa, which is a Grande Dame out of the Rat Pack Days.  Yes, while the outside seems a bit, well, WORN, the rooms are newly done and it’s got good space and a great pool.

Don’t forget to register early, as there are only 250 slots left!

Details can be found HERE

Agenda details:

Friday, July 24
12:00 noon Registration and Sponsor Lunch
2:00 PM Welcome and Conference Overview
2:30 PM Live Wine Blogging
4:00 PM Breakout Sessions
5:00 PM Breakout Sessions
6:30 PM Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines
8:00 PM Pool Party Barbecue

Saturday, July 25
7:00 AM Breakfast on your own
9:00 AM Depart for Napa Valley
10:00 AM Breakout Sessions
11:00 AM Breakout Sessions
12:00 noon Depart for Napa Rocks at participating wineries
7:00 PM Dinner in the Vineyards at participating Napa wineries
8:45 PM Buses return to the Flamingo
9:45 PM Informal tasting of participants’ wines

Sunday, July 26
7:00 AM Breakfast on your own
9:30 AM Breakout Sessions and Industry Discussions
11:30 AM Luxe Sonoma Tasting
12:30 PM Casual lunch
1:00 PM Conference Ends

1:oopm on – if you are still around, I’m sure there will be blogger tasting, parties, and other fun stuff!

If you want to see what I thought of last year, check out these posts:

Wine Bloggers Conference Day 3 1/2 Recap!

November 6, 2008

Wine Bloggers ConferenceOn the last day of the Wine Bloggers Conference, several bloggers were invited to a private party hosted by The Wine Spies and Cruvee in honor of Levendi Winery.

While there, we tasted some lovely wines, all of which were offered in a half bottle format. This is a great way to pour wine, as it allows Levendi to open fresh bottles every day, with minimal waste. It is also a great way to buy wines for people who may not be able to consume an entire bottle in one night, or are single (umm me!) and don’t want to use one of the alternative closure options available to recork their wines.

levendi1

The Cruvee Crew

The Cruvee Crew

I really enjoyed the 2006 Red Hen Chardonnay, which while being a rich Napa Valley Chardonnay was not overpoweringly buttery and creamy – something I dislike. It had distinct notes of tropical fruit, and was very refreshing on a warm afternoon by the pool.cruvee1

Alas, by this point my brain was a bit fuzzy after 3 days of WBC, and so my notetaking ends here.

Unfortunately, that precludes me from participating in The Wine Spies’ contest to review this wine, but c’est la vie! That said, I had a wonderful afternoon with my fellow wine bloggers!

Megan the Wannabe Wino, me, and Randy Hall of Wine Biz Radio!

Megan the Wannabe Wino, me, and Randy Hall of Wine Biz Radio!

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Wine Bloggers Conferenece Day 3 Recap!

October 27, 2008

What happened? Where did it all go? Damn that flew by. Day 3, the final day of the Wine Bloggers Conference. Am I awake? Well…sort of.

I enjoyed a nicely greasy IHOP breakfast with the man himself, Joel Vincent, Megan Wannabe Wino, Dirty South Wine and Doug from Able Grape. Nothing like carbs and sugar to cure a hangover! Err I mean an energy slump.

Back at the Flamingo, as tempting as it was to veg by the pool again, I ducked in to the Unconference just in time. The few stragglers that made it to the morning session really deserve extra credit, since it was the end of a pretty intense weekend. Michelle Lentz, my new BFF, led round tables of the hot discussion topics from the WBC. there were mini sessions recapping the breakouts from Saturday, and there were also new topics, such as Twitter / Social Media, Organic Wines, and Most Surprising Thing.

I spent a few minutes at the Should Bloggers Post Negative Reviews sessions and heard some interesting feedback in both directions. Personally, I don’t have the time to post about every negative wine that I taste. That said, I will absolutely post something negative if it was really terrible or really surprising, but I do try to have a balanced approach to my blog. However, my blog is about really terrific wines. I don’t write about mediocre wines, or the mass produced wine I had at a friends party. What do you do? Do you post all reviews? Do you post only good reviews? Do you post negative reviews? Vinquiring minds want to know.

After that, I found myself being drafted in to the Twitter table. Apparently, I have been nominated Twitter Queen of the WBC. Do I get a crown? Please? I have found Twitter and other social media tools to be very valuable in terms of networking and getting to know more wine bloggers. As both a wine blogger and an employee of a wine related business, it is critical that we find new ways to market and get the word out. Some key points of the Twitter discussion were Twitter social etiquette, introducing new members, getting started, and how to separate your business from your personal Twitter life. One of the most important lessons for Twitterers to understand is that it is a tool. I fyou abuse it, you will be unfollowed. If you are not giving as much as you are getting, then you are not going to be a member of the club for very long.

Moral of this speech? Make sure if you meet new wine bloggers, and they are on Twitter already or they are going to get on Tiwtter that you do them the courtesy of announcing them to your followers. This allows them to gain a small following to start with, and they can earn additional followers based on the content they are tweeting.

After the Unconference, it was time for the final tasting and lunch. The final tasting was a Luxe Tasting, where 6 Sonoma vintners of ultra premium wines poured their wares on the hungover leftovers of the WBC. I tasted:

After the final lunch, the conference concluded. What a great weekend! I was so happy to meet so many people that I only knew from the Twitterverse. I would like to personally thank everyone involved in making this such a memorable first Wine Bloggers Conference!

Pictures and thoughts on the rest of my Sunday wine excursion, after the WBC, will be up next!

Wine Bloggers Conferenece Day 2 Recap!

October 27, 2008

After spending the morning resting, eating and blogging, I was finally ready to get back in to the WBC action.

Or so I thought.

After perusing the options of breakout sessions, like Beyond Blogging, Increasing Visitors, and the dreaded Wine Blogger Credibility issue, I decided that I would rather be a fly on the wall and headed to the pool to hang with El Jefe and Sonadora instead. Corey from Inertia Beverage Group came by too!

We managed to create a pretty hoppin’ Anti-Conference, where several of us were enjoying the Twitter conversation regarding the breakouts from afar while enjoying some wine in the gorgeous weather.

By 5, the party was in full swing as the entire conference joined our BYOBG (bring your own bottle and glass) party poolside. After our soiree, we headed in to the Grand Sonoma tasting where many of my favorite wineries were pouring, including Willowbrook and Inman Family, two pinot producers that have stolen my heart. And taste buds. And wallet.

Finally, we got on the bus for dinner at Sebastiani. That’s right, we were on the cool bus, aka bus #2, with our brave driver Gina. Gina successfully guided the rowdy bunch to Sebastiani in Sonoma, where we had dinner and the keynote by Alice Feiring.

After dinner, the Brave, The Proud, The Truely Twisted were invited to an after party in the Oak Room, where Doug Cook from Able Grape let loose with a plethora of amazing and aged Italian wines from his personal collection. Lenn Thompson also brought out the rest of the Long Island and Finger Lakes wine from the previous nights after party, to be enjoyed by any one who could still keep their eyes open.

Unfortuntely, I only lasted through the first 5 bottles of wine before I had enough and passed out in my room. It was only midnight. Eeeesh.

The next day, up WAY WAY WAY too early for my taste, is another story! More to come of course, as the Wine Bloggers Conference has been a great success and great fun for all.

There will be more pictures rest assured, although I have been told I am not allowed to publish some of them 😉

Lest I forget…

October 25, 2008

After being shushed more than once, I have to give a shout out to Table 11 at dinner because we were:

  • The Loudest
  • The Goofiest
  • The Twitterist
  • The Funnest
  • And BESTEST

table at dinner!

Love to El Jefe of Twisted Oak Wines, Sonadora aka Wannabe Wino, Russ The Winehiker, Josh the Pinotblogger, and the new friends made at dinner!

Incidentally, Josh and Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours deserve a massive thank you for a great tasting of Long Island and Oregon wines last night. Palates smashed, I still found some Long Island and Oregon wines to love. Too bad I didn’t push Randy in the pool thought 😉

How much fun did we have? We’ll let’s just say that I was laughing so hard I forgot to take notes and there was nearly a wine spit up accident every 5 minutes.

Now that I am relatively well rested and full of a Bacon Omlette from Hank’s Creekside Cafe,

BRING IT ON!

Wine Bloggers Conferenece Day 1 Recap!

October 25, 2008

Yesterday was the first day of the first ever American Wine Blogger’s Conference, held in Santa Rosa at the historic Flamingo Hotel. You can catch up on the action by using Twitter Search and the hashtag #wbc.

It started out so well, with a welcome lunch at Kick Ranch, a lovely piece of property just east of Santa Rosa, overlooking the valley.
While there, we were given the opportunity to taste several wines grown on the property. Yummy!

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for the Live Blogging Session. Let me just say, madness ensued! One we got past the technical glitches, 14 wineries played round robin running from table to table. They had 5 minutes to talk, and we had a minute or so to respond via Twitter, our Blogs or some other method. Here is my rundown of the tasting:

  1. Bonterra Organic The McNab Menocino blend 60% Merlot, 26% cab, 14% petite. Dark fruit. Loganberry with chocolate on top! Dusy spice easy drinking.
  2. 2007 Lionheart Roussanne has a very carmellly characteristic. Creamy custard, lemon, tropical fruit…guava and peach
  3. Yellow + Blue = Green Malbec in a Tetrapak 1 liter container. Thin but a lot of spice. Leather dark blue frut.
  4. 2007 James David Dry Muscat honey floral melon with tangerine quite refreshing actually
  5. 2005 Clos LaChance Estate Cab quite a sweet note to the Clos La Chance Cab. This wine could use decanting. Cassis and spice. Only 1200 cases made! Classic cab. Rich velvety. A little dry, needs some time chocolate, coffee
  6. Four Bears Cabernet smoke, tobacco, earth. A little merlot and Petite Verdot blended in. It has a lot of cedar, and menthol to it. but the price point is RIDICULOUS as in CHEAP for this level of quality.
  7. Small Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is concentrated deliciousness. Very rich biodynamically farmed, with very limited production. It is concentrated smoky earth, with a healthy Dr. Pepper zing followed by pomegranate…leather…baking spices. Stands on it’s own. Lingering finish that i adore. So named Small Vines because most vineyards are planted 1000 vines per acre but Small Vines only has 250 vines per acre.
  8. Kanzler Estate Pinot Noir as the classic richness of RRV pure cherry cola – fizzes like a wild cherry pepsi! Kanzler Estate Pinot rich style, Russian River / Sebastapol Hills micro AVA.
  9. Cupcake Central Coast Chardonnay is so nice and not overly oaked. 50% new american oak gives it such a light crispness and well balanced acidity on the finish, very French in style.
  10. Dark Horse Zinfandel treborce Vineyard spicy rich raisens
  11. 2006 Twisted Oak The Spainard Smokey deliciousness! I cannot say enough great things about Twisted Oak. Not only am I twisted by nature, I am now addicted. Egads!
  12. Boho Central Coast Chardonnay Bag in Box funk on the nose creamy lemon not very oaky. LEMON.
  13. Bink Pinot Noir Weir Vineyard is not a shy wine. This is a BOLD wine not for the faint hearted. Spicy cinnamon, candied apple, strawberry. Yorkville highlands rich cheery and red fruit.

After the marathon live tasting, some of us went to the New Zealand tasting (not me) and some of us went ot a Dry Creek Zin tasting (me!). While I pretty much knew all of the zins being poured, it is always fun to get ot know the people of Dry Creek.

After the tasting sessions, dinner finally arrived. The Winegrowers of Dry Creek generously provided the wine being poured, and we slurped our way through a very nice Dry Creek Vineyards Sav Fume blanc, Quivera Grenance (mmmmmm), Truett-Hurst Red Rooster Zinfandel, and Michel-Schlumberger Cabernet. There was also a Pedroncelli port. Yowzer!

My only complaint of the entire day was that dinner was…less than satisfying. Dear Flamingo folks, when someone asks for a V-e-g-i-t-a-r-i-a-n option, that odes NOT mean bring them dry overcooked fish swimming in cream sauce! Grumble.

Special thanks to Gary Vay-ner-chuck for taking time out of his crazy schedule for coming to talk to us, FOR FREE. More to come from Day 2 ahead!

After such a full day, I neglected to get up in time for the Vineyard Walks so i am drinking gallons of coffee in preparation for this afternoons lively discussions and tonights tastings.

Cheers!

Live Tasting Session from the WBC!

October 22, 2008

Upon the advice (Ok, not advice, just post) of fellow wine blogger Joe of 1WineDude fame, I am going to give this crazy piece of thechnology a whirl.

Dunno if it will work, but stay tuned for the WBC to find out!

Holy Blogger Failure Batman! What I was trying to say before I was so rudely interrupted was

On Friday October 24th at 3:30pm PT, the attendees of the WBC will be participting in a whacky tasting event where 14 winereis will pour in a round robin tasting.

Bloggers will have 1 minute to respond LIVE to the wines, and then interact with the vintners. Should be fun!

If I can get this toy to work, tune in for live updates!