Chateau Ste Michelle 2008 Chardonnay & Roast Chicken–Yum!

So far so good in the Washington wine department: I’ve been able to find a number of wines at my local grocery store for around $10 on sale that I can enjoy on a weeknight with dinner, I’m well on my way to Washington itself because I won a Wine Bloggers Scholarship, and here’s another post to hopefuly earn me a spot on the WBC-or-Bust bus! Continue reading

Pop the cork! I won a Wine Blogger’s Scholarship to Washington State!

Over the weekend, I heard good news and bad: the bad news was that I was on the waiting list for a scholarship to this year’s Wine Blogging Conference in Walla Walla Washington.

The good news was that I was on the waiting list for the Wine Blogger’s Conference Scholarship–and if enough money came into the Scholarship Fund, I’d be on my way to Washington in mid-June!!

You can imagine I was already on pins and needles waiting this past week to find out if I’d won a scholarship, and now, I’d have to wait longer! My mind raced, wondering ho I could help drum up more cash for the conference–and how far down I was on the waiting list.

I am sure you can also imagine my relief and my excitement when I checked my email during a break in my  Monday night Women’s Economic Ventures class to discover I’d won!! As soon as I got home, I told my spouse and we popped the cork on the bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Sparkling wine I had waiting for this moment! Continue reading

Why The Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Committee Should Select Me

The. video above gives you a taste of what a Wine Bloggers Conference is like and why I am applying for a scholarship to attend this year’s conference in Walla Walla, Washington where the emphasis on tasting, tours, and education will be on Washington wines. As a Californian who lives near the Santa Barbara wine region, I have access to tasting and purchasing an abundance of excellent California wines. Being near LA, I am also invited to industry events and wine tastings and can learn about wines from other regions.
But there is nothing like a Wine Bloggers Conference to really get to know the wines of the region that is being showcased. In recent weeks, in order to learn more about Washington wines and to write about them in the hopes of winning a ride on the WBC-Or-Bust bus (see the badge on the side bar?), I’ve been trying to find and taste Washington wines and have come up woefully and surprisingly short. Trader Joe’s and Vons offer little in the way of Washington wines (they offer mostly the same ones!), and my favorite wine store, the Ventura Wine Company, carries mostly California wines with only a smattering of wines from other places, and very few from Washington. And I’m not one of those wine bloggers being bombarded with wine samples either!
Even a trip on my own to Washington wouldn’t provide me with anything close to what the Wine Bloggers Conference can do when it comes to tasting a large variety of Washington wines, getting to know the different regions and what they have to offer, meeting the wine makers, and touring the facilities.
So it’s no surprise that the Wine Bloggers Conference sold out on Thursday way before the conference begins in mid-June 2010, and so the scholarship deadline has been moved up too. Learn more about the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship here and how you can help send a wine blogger to Washington! More funds are still desperately needed to meet the goal of sending 10 wine bloggers to Walla Walla. Learn more about the Wine Bloggers conference itself here.
Here’s my application about why I want to go and why the committee should select me:
  1. Full Name:
    Gwendolyn Alley
  2. Contact information:
    gwendolynalley AT yahoo DOT com
  3. Blog addresses and what you’re all about:

    Art Predator
    http://artpredator.wordpress.com is my main blog Continue reading

2010 Wine Bloggers Conference Sells Out! So Join the Wait List Now!

No, I don’t mean the Wine Bloggers Conference has sold out ethically–it’s sold out sold out! That means maybe if you’re lucky, and you join the waiting list TODAY, you’ll get a spot.

Why would you want to go? As someone who has attended the past two years in Santa Rosa as well as the European Wine Bloggers conference in Lisbon, I can tell you attending is an amazing experience. You can read about my experiences via the many posts I put up each year on the pages above.

The first year the conference focused on Sonoma country wines and those from New Zealand. In 2009, we traveled all over Napa to taste that region’s wines and there was a tasting of wines from Portugal also. The Portugal conference highlighted Portuguese wines in a way impossible without traveling all over Portugal. 2010′s conference will emphasize the wines of the host state, Washington with tours and tastings and talks.

These conferences bring to the wine blogger an astounding array of incredible wines. Often the winemaker is in attendance to share more about what makes his or her wines special. If you’re one of the 1,000 wine bloggers out there, you’d have the opportunity to up your game by tasting 100s of wines in the company of wine bloggers and wine professionals.

The conferences are a great value as well. The meals are absolutely fabulous and match marvelously with the wines! So what else could you ask for? Wine, food, friends, plus guest speakers and sessions designed to improve your knowledge of wine and wine blogging. Learn more at the Wine Bloggers Conference website.

If this sounds too good to be true, it almost is. Here are a few more details form the website about who should attend and how much it costs.

Who Should Attend

  • Citizen Bloggers who write about wine or the wine industry on their own. In 2010, we are also focusing on wine & food pairing and so invite all food bloggers as well!
  • Winery Bloggers who have a winery-related blog. We will have special content tailored to winery bloggers.
  • New Media Innovators who work in the world of blogging and social media.
  • Wine Industry members who would like to learn about new media or interact with bloggers.

Cost, Payment, Cancellation, and What is Included

The cost of the conference is $95 for citizen wine bloggers (those unaffiliated with a business or organization), $195 for industry wine bloggers (those whose blog is affiliated with a winery, retail store, or other business or organization), and $295 for non-blogger participants (industry, media relations professionals, friends and family, etc). We are able to offer a lower price to citizen bloggers and wine-industry bloggers because it is for these folks our sponsors underwrite the conference. If you are a member of OpenWine Consortium, you will receive a discount of $10 (just indicate your membership on the registration along with your member name and we’ll discount it automatically). Payment is required in advance by credit card.

Such a deal! There’s even a scholarship to help needy wine bloggers attend! If you can, please support this worthy cause with a small or large donation!

Chateau Ste Michelle 2005 Columbia Valley Merlot takes the prize

I bet you’re dying to know what I drank the other night with my New York Strip steak–which wine took the prize so to speak. Let me give you a hint:

Day 2 Itinerary: Food & Wine Pairing at Ste. Michelle–The first stop of the day will take place at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s original Chateau and founding winery. Following a guided tour, our guest bloggers will enjoy an informative food and wine pairing experience.

Yes, you guessed it, I went with the wine selection from Washington State to add to my collection of posts about Washington State wines to compete in the WBC-or-Bust contest. And like I said in the previous post, it’s the one Washington State merlot the grocery store had–a 2005 Chateau St. Michelle. Makes sense for my first WA wine to write about it the first stop on the bus, yes? Maybe this will be a trend–or a direction on where to go with this series of posts!

The 2005 Chateau St. Michelle merlot is soft, supple, smooth and easy to drink; in fact I drank most of the bottle last night save one large glass to enjoy today as I write this post! The alcohol is a reasonable 13.5 so it didn’t knock off my socks (or any other clothing items!)

The color of the merlot is a deep concentrated plummy red while the nose is cherry and cola with some berry, plum, and licorice: typical, not surprising. It’s got lots of nice friendly fruit flavor, mostly cherry and other dark fruits; again, to be expected. At first I thought it too flabby, lacking structure, but the wine grew on me and it nicely complemented my steak with stilton crumbled on top. It did NOT go with the leftover potatoes from Wednesdays corned beef (ohh, but with the black and tan I enjoyed on Wednesday they were scrumptiously delectably matched!)

According to the Chateau St. Michelle website, food styles that match well with Merlot include

Mild to Intensely Flavored: Grilled salmon, roasted lamb, wild game, and balsamic or tomato-based sauces work well with the jammy flavors of Merlot.

Chinese: Merlot has a softer taste that lends itself to the flavors of Chinese food. Peking duck, mu shu pork, braised soy pork.

I can totally see this pairing nicely with the plum sauce and flavors in mu shu whether it be chicken, pork, duck, tofu or beef! They of course suggest one of their cabs to go with the steak!

The following day I had it with some crackers and cheeses included aged gouda and an aged goat cheese gouda. The merlot paired well with both and was a terrific way to celebrate what my grandma Gwenn called “Wine-Thirty.”

Overall, while merlot isn’t my favorite varietal, I’m not one to turn up my nose just because it’s merlot; I’m willing to give it a go and I’ve had some good ones. This 2005 Chateau St. Michelle is a great value on sale at $10. Bring it to a party and everyone will enjoy it. It’s a terrific, mild, juicy red wine for the white wine drinker.

Now to find another Washington Merlot to taste by Thursday! And guess what we’ll be having for dinner? That’s right–I’m going for Chinese take-out of Mu shu pork!

(This post clocks in at over 550 words–nearly 4 posts for the price of wine! Ummn, one! I’m thinking instead of number of posts, the contest should go with number of words!)

Twitter Tasting Event Picks Washington Merlot Thursday March 25

Thursday, March 25,  I will join in on the third Twitter Tasting event: Washington Merlot. The first one focused on California Cabernets and I tweeted enthusiastically about Old Creek Ranch’s Napa Valley Cabernet. For number two, my friend Tim Cabrera and I went to Summerland Winery where we tasted and he bought a bottle of their sauvignon blanc which is one of his favorite summertime wines (and I could sure see why!)

And since I am going on a Washington Wine tasting and blogging binge in order to compete in the WBC-or-Bust contest, it’s a no brainer that I will be participating in Thursday’s live Twitter Tasting for Washington Merlot.

Trouble is, I live in California, in a town some of us call “Ventucky.” It doesn’t boast much in the way of wine stores–although some people here do boast about our wine BARS. Granted, Nick’s Cave and the Ventura Wine Store is a wonderful place; however, he specializes in California wines, particularly local ones, and especially those that the distributor will give him marked down lower than some wineries are comfortable going.

So I went to Vons. We have five Vons in our small town, and fortunately for me, two of them have a decent wine selection. One of them, on Seaward by the beach, sells the most wine out of all the stores in California I’ve been told and makes the most money per square foot out of the whole chain. Probably because they carry and sell a LOT of pricey wine. CALIFORNIA wine.

I went to the Vons on Borchard. On their clearance shelf I got lucky and found one of my favorite inexpensive pinot noirs, Wild Rock, for 50% so I picked up two bottles for the price of one ($15)  plus a 2006 Babich unoaked chard for $5 and a Napa Valley White Oak Syrah for $13.

Unfortunately I could only find one Washington merlot, a 2005 by Chateau Ste. Michelle on sale for $10.

Since I bought six bottles, they took another 10% off. In addition, the other day I picked up two bottles of Ravenswood 2007 Vintners Blend at 50% off (two at $12), and I walked out of Vons with a 2008 St. Francis Chardonnay for $9!

This state of affairs is going to make it very very difficult for me to write much about Washington wines in the next month in order to be competitive in the WBC-or-Bust contest. I just bought nine bottles of wine and even at discounted prices, I spent some money, and I only ended up with one from Washington! And my Twisted Few wine club shipment just came in to my cellar up at my mom’s house!

If I get desperate enough, and move quickly enough, possible I could order wine for the event here: http://wine-beer-washington.com/announcements/washington-merlot-deals-discounts-and-doings/

One last dilemna: what to drink with the beautiful New York steak I bought for tonight? Do I drink the Chateau St. Michelle Washington merlot and get started on my challenge and prep my tastebuds for Thursday? Or do I drink one of these other fabulous wines I bought in the past 72 hours? I hope the suspense doesn’t get to you!

Want to join in the fun? Register for the Washington Merlot Twitter Tasting here; it’s free and you don’t even have to register to participate. Just get on twitter and let the tweets flow with the Washington merlot!

Word count: this one clocks in at nearly 600 words! I definitely should have turned this one into three posts!

WBC-or-Bust: Wine Predator Throws Hat Into Ring for Trip to WA Wine Country!

I’m signed up.

Signed up to what?

Compete in the WBC-or-BUST contest.

The what?

The WBC-or-Bust Contest!

Yeah, right!

No –Write! Write about Washington wines! Live it up! Be driven around to various top-notch wineries from Seattle to Walla Walla! Be wined AND dined! Stay in a way cool B&B along the way!

See the badge there on the sidebar? That means I’m official!

Well, can I go?

Only if you sign up and follow these “Rules & Guidelines”!

TO ENTER If you don’t already have one, create a free WineCHATr.com blogger account. Choose a “WBC-or-BUST” badge/banner from your WineCHATr.com account manager. Add the badge source code to your blog website, so that it is visible from any page.

Warning: This is a pain in the neck. But if I can do it, you can do it. They have a few badges to choose from. I like this one the best.

TO QUALIFY Once the WBC-or-BUST badge has been properly added to your blog website, simply blog about Washington wine throughout the span of the contest. No less than one Washington wine post must be published to remain eligible.

I don’t think this one will count, do you?

TO WIN 12 winning bloggers will be named at the conclusion of the campaign. Four (4) winners will be selected at random out of all qualifying participants. Two (2) winners will be chosen for posting the most Washington wine related blog entries (minimum of 150 words required for each post). Six (6) additional winners will be chosen for the best category based posting:

  • Top 2 Best Washington winery posts
  • Top 2 Best Washington wine or tasting note posts
  • Best Washington growing region post
  • Best Washington vineyard post

The huh? The final four winners will be selected at random out of all qualifying participants? Random? Can you see me scratching my head? Maybe 2 random and 2 because the writing overall was good or the person showed lots of potential or had proven her worth by blogging like a mad dog at other conferences?

Oh and FYI This post has 700 words if we count the title, well over the required number of 150 words per post. Since I tend to write posts of 750-1000 words, do you think I should break them into parts in order to be more competitive? Or add lots of extra words to my sentences?

A few more words in the fine print:

* Your blog has to have been started before the end of October 2009 (no problem there–I started this blog August 2008 and started psoting regularly October 2008; my main blog, Art Predator, I started November 2007).
* Washington bloggers/residents can’t compete (I’m definitely a Californian!)
* You have to have a ticket to WBC 10 (and those are selling out fast! I’m applying for a scholarship, but if that doesn’t come through, Reno is saving me a spot.)
* You have to make a 1 minute video and post it to you-tube and leave a link in your blog Just kidding! But here’s mine anyway! Just insert Washington Wine whenever I say M-G. I’m an equal opportunity blogger (within reason!)

Below are more details about this amazing opportunity. Check it out and you’ll see why I want to be on that bus or bust!

ROAD TO WALLA WALLA: June 23rd – 25th

DAY 1: Seattle & Woodinville Wine Country
WBC-or-BUST Preview - Day 1 Experience some of the best Washington has to offer from one of the premier food & wine destinations in the Northwest. {view itinerary}

DAY 2: Yakima Valley & Walla Walla
WBC-or-BUST Preview - Day 1 Travel across the Cascade Mountain Range to visit Washington’s premier growing regions and taste through a selection of premium wines. {view itinerary}

DAY 3: Start of the Wine Bloggers Conference
Arrive to Walla Walla in style just in time for the WBC with a deeper understanding of Washington and its thriving wine industry.

So here goes! Until this contest ends at the end of April, there will definitely be a Washington Wine slant to this blog. It’s gonna be a blast! And maybe I’ll get to blast off in June to my next wine adventure–in Washington!

Now to find my notes from the WA wines I tasted at WBC…they’re here somewhere!